Kite HIll
photo courtesy of Kite Hill

Investments in the agri-food tech industry totaled almost $20 billion in 2019, according to AgFunder’s sixth annual Agri-FoodTech Investing Report. Alternative proteins, included in the report’s Innovative Food category, represent one of the areas of greatest investment, doubling the funding it received from a year earlier.

One reason for the considerable growth in alternative protein investment was certainly the IPO of Beyond Meat, which soon reached a valuation of more than $9 billion. Consumers have become more comfortable with plant-based alternatives to red meat: Just a few years ago, who would have thought you could order an Impossible Whopper at Burger King or a plant-based beef taco at Taco Bell?

But substitutes for red meat are not the only alternative proteins to watch. AgFunder reports that investors—and eventual customers—are paying attention to replacements for poultry, pork, seafood, and other proteins.

Leaders at S2G Ventures, a food and agriculture venture capital fund, report continued interest and innovation in proteins, according to Matthew Walker, managing director at S2G Ventures. “We believe a healthier food system is the under-recognized solution to critical global challenges like climate change, healthcare, and nutrition, so we’re closely tracking this space,” Walker says.

For example, Walker and his team are excited about many of the possibilities they’ve seen for alternative proteins beyond red meat replacements. He’s closely watching some companies that are developing plant-based cheeses, and he also expects to see companies continue to develop alternative seafoods that are plant-based, algae-based, and fungi-based. The S2G Ventures team has even seen a few alternative protein-based breast milk products under development.

“As companies producing plant-based meat and plant-based dairy progress toward scaled adoption, we may see different products gain the attention of the venture investor community,” Walker says. “The world is no longer afraid of alternatives, and we’re looking forward to working with entrepreneurs who are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in food.”

Ongoing developments in plant-based proteins are important for ending world hunger, many experts say. That’s because many livestock animals take more food from the global food supply than they provide: While it can take 25 pounds of grain to yield just one pound of ground beef, crops such as soy and lentils can produce as much or more protein than beef, according to A Well-Fed World, a food security and environmental advocacy organization advancing plant-based foods and farming. And growing crops to feed people directly is much more efficient than growing crops to feed animals and graze animals. One acre of land can yield 12–20 times more plant-based food than animal-based food.

More from IFTNEXT right arrow

Preparing corn for climate change

Scientists at the University of Illinois recently completed a study—published in Global Change Biology—on the effect ozone pollution has on corn.

Understanding how compounds in chili peppers fluctuate during ripening

New research into the accumulation of two important compounds in chili peppers may help plant breeders understand what contributes to the increasing and decreasing levels of these compounds as chili peppers develop and could also provide insights into the development of food ingredients.

Herbivorous fish may hold key to sustainable aquaculture

The discovery of an unusual fish that sustains itself by consuming a vegetarian diet of specialized algae holds promise as a more sustainable source of dietary protein for humans.

A new look at the almond tree genome

Scientists studying the genomes of an almond tree variety and the peach tree gained some important insights that may help improve the species, according to a study published in The Plant Journal.

More from IFT right arrow

How IoP Can Connect the Packaged Food Value Chain

The article describes Internet of Packaging and how technologies and systems within this area can facilitate new packaging mechanisms to improve branding, tracking, tracing, food safety, and sustainability.

Chef Viverito Makes Cell-Based Seafood Taste Good

Chef Gerard Viverito recently joined BlueNalu, a cellular aquaculture startup, where his passion for seafood sustainability and international culinary arts will help him show consumers that cell-based seafood can mimic regular seafood in taste and texture.

New Bioprocesses May Reduce Cost to Produce Low-Calorie Sweetener

Separate research from the University of Illinois and Tufts University have examined new bioprocesses for producing tagatose in a more cost-effective manner.

Weathering the Impact of Climate Change

Shifting environmental conditions are taking a toll on food production, but progressive farmers and food companies are fighting back—and making a difference.

Food Architecture: Building A Better Food Supply

Food scientists are using structural design principles to improve the healthiness, sustainability, and quality of the modern food system.

Latest News right arrow

Big data reveals impact of climate change on crop yields

A new Michigan State University (MSU) study published in Scientific Reports shines a light on how big data and digital technologies can help farmers better adapt to threats—both present and future—from a changing climate.

Researchers discover the genetic mechanism behind stem rust in wheat

A study published in Nature Communications sheds new light on the underlying genetic mechanism that causes suppression, potentially removing a barrier to developing crops with stronger immunity using modern genomic tools.

Global consumers and farmers share food system concerns

Corteva Agriscience, a seed and agricultural chemical company that was a unit of DowDuPont before being spun off as an independent public company, has announced the results of a global study of Gen Z/millennial farmers and consumers.

Gotham Greens opens greenhouse in Baltimore

Gotham Greens has opened its new 100,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse outside of Baltimore.

Mondelēz acquires in-store bakery; sets sustainability targets

Mondelēz International has announced an agreement to acquire a significant majority interest in Give & Go, a North American manufacturer of sweet baked goods.