FoodTech innovation is at an all-time high and as mainstream adoption continues, huge opportunities will open for startups and private markets. Read on to see what’s happening right now and what the future holds for this global shift.
Since its debut in 1995, the Tofurky Roast has been served on the Thanksgiving table in millions of households.
What started as a meatless way to celebrate the holidays has turned into an ever-expanding line of plant-based products including deli slices, burgers, sausages, grounds, and more.
Just this year, they saw their biggest uptick with a 22% surge in orders ahead of Thanksgiving and an unprecedented demand.
But they’re not alone anymore.
Meatless powerhouses like Beyond Meat (BYND) and Impossible Foods have helped make meat alternatives acceptable and mainstream.
Heck, Beyond Meat went public at $25/share in May of 2019 and is now trading at well over $125/share.
This year’s mid-March lockdown-induced meat shortages pushed the sales of plant-based foods up by 90%.
I believe it’s the adoption of meatless food options by national food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King and grocers that will continue to grow and expand this sector.
I discuss that in detail and share yet another FoodTech trend to keep an eye on, in today’s Angel Insights edition.
A Meatless Revolution
We’ve all heard of gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, and the numerous tags that consumers go crazy for.
But do you know about the biggest new food trend?
This is a trend that has already found its way onto the menus of McDonald’s and Burger King and yet still lives in the “health food” aisle of your supermarket…
You already know what it is, I’m talking about plant-based meat.
This food tech product has been around for decades but just now has lost its negative connotations and broken into the mainstream.
And, an even more groundbreaking product, lab-grown or cultured meat, is creeping up fast.
With huge, industry-shaking stories breaking over the past few months, I thought it was time to put you guys onto this niche that is set to disrupt the $1 trillion U.S. meat industry.
Plant-Based Vs. Lab-Grown Meats
Plant-based meats are made from non-animal sources like soy, grains, algae, lentils, and mushrooms. These foods are cooked and processed to emulate the look, feel, taste, and smell of regular meat.
We aren’t talking about tofu here, these are specialty products that aren’t just high-protein substitutes for vegetarians and vegans. These give the full meat experience and are for anyone concerned about animal welfare, the environment, or their health.
On the other side of the room, we have lab-grown meats.
These products are made of actual animal cells. Muscle cells are collected and grown in a controlled environment. The result is authentic meat from an animal source with all the flavor and texture you’d expect, but without harming any animals.
While the lab-grown meat industry has grown significantly and many investors have taken an interest, the current issue is the price.
To make a single lab-grown burger today costs thousands and thousands of dollars.
While the technology isn’t yet as viable as cheap and easy plant-based meats, in the future the technology will catch up. Lab-grown meat has the potential to fundamentally change the food system.
Driving Factors in the Alternative Protein Space
Interest in alternative meats is mainly fueled by environmental concerns.
Livestock animals used for meat production are very resource-heavy, especially when it comes to freshwater.
UCLA studied meat production and found that raising a single pound of beef requires anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 gallons of water. This mostly comes from irrigating the cows’ foods which are grasses and grains.
Compare this to tofu: a pound takes around 302 gallons of water to produce.
Many are also concerned with the greenhouse gas impact of livestock animals. The EPA found that livestock animals produce about 4% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
Beyond the environmental issues, many people just want to cut back or cut out their meat consumption for health reasons.
The market for vegetarians and vegans who need tasty protein sources has been around for a long time, but now we are seeing the growth of a new market—one where regular eaters want to reduce their meat intake without sacrificing their meaty indulgences.
Beyond Meat’s Mysterious Deal with McDonald’s
Beyond Meat is an LA-based food tech company that makes non-GMO plant-based meat products.
These products offer greater or equal protein levels than their animal counterparts, have no cholesterol, less saturated fat, and are made without the use of antibiotics or hormones.
Kleiner Perkins, Tyson Foods, General Mills, and Bill Gates have all invested in Beyond Meat.
The startup has raised a total of $122 million of capital so far and has already gone public. The IPO was huge and much-anticipated, selling at $25 per share and raising $241 million at a valuation of around $1.5 billion.
That’s just the intro, now here’s the real news…
Beyond Meat has been working with McDonald’s in secret for some time now. After much speculation, it’s now clear that Beyond Meat was involved in the creation of the new meatless burger the McPlant.
In what capacity they are working together is still unclear, but If the two meat specialists made a full-on partnership it could mean huge revenue growth for Beyond Meat.
The implications of this deal created a huge buzz within the industry. Ever since the first whispers emerged, the company’s stock price has been bouncing around like a ping pong ball.
It’s also possible that they are simply offering consultation on the meatless patty or working with McDonald’s in a less hands-on capacity.
Whatever the case, what’s clear is that McDonald’s is developing its meatless line and taking it globally. Beyond Meat is working with McDonald’s on that project, and this has created a huge morale boost for investors and entrepreneurs across the plant-based meat industry.
The World’s First Cultured Meat Acquisition
In big lab-grown meat news, the Israeli startup Meat Tech 3D is acquiring the cultured fat producer Peace of Meat.
Meat Tech uses 3D printing technology to print cultured meat. It also focuses on research and development within the food tech space and leases tech to major food producers globally.
Peace of Meat has developed a stem-cell-based method for creating animal fats from cattle, chickens, and geese without harming the animals. It was just founded in 2019 and in a very short time earned a $1.33 million government subsidy and $1 million in private investments before finally hitching up with Meat Tech 3D.
This deal marks the very first M&A in cultured meat in history, a huge statement for the industry.
Plant-Based Meat Unicorn Continues Burger King Deal
Impossible Foods is another plant-based meat company. It takes seeds, greens, and grains and processes them into meat, dairy, and fish products.
This is the biggest name in alternative proteins right now. Impossible has gotten huge investments, exposure, and celebrity endorsements over the past few years.
So far it has raised $1.4 billion in funding from investors like Microsoft, Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, GV, as well as investments from celebs like Katy Perry, Jay-Z, and Serena Williams.
Impossible Foods took a huge step recently by partnering with Burger King. Together, they produced the Impossible Whopper, a plant-based version of the famous sandwich.
Now, the duo has announced a breakfast addition in the form of the new Impossible Croissan’wich with the startup’s own sausage alternative.
This along with McDonald’s and Beyond Meat’s dealings shows a huge potential for alternative protein startups to break into the mainstream.
The technology is ready and consumers are ready. We are bound to hear more big news out of this industry as it expands into and disrupts the meat industry.
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