New research finds that 40% of ‘leading’ food firms including Nestlé and Unilever now have dedicated teams for the development of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.

The data comes from the new online Sustainable Proteins Hub for investors, and ‘Appetite for Disruption: A Second Serving’ report, launched by the FAIRR Investor Network.

The report highlights new research that shows over $1.1 billion of venture investment has flowed into alternative proteins in the first half of 2020, more than double last year’s total investment ($534 million). The alternative protein market is expected to grow to $17.9 billion by 2025. Amidst public concern over the link between meat production and the ongoing COVID-19 and African Swine Fever crises, retailers and manufacturers are facing a surge in demand for plant-based products.

This has been felt most acutely in China where pork consumption is estimated to drop by 35% this year, while plant-based pork brand OmniFoods saw record growth across China and other Asian markets. Brands like Impossible Foodsand Oatly have set their sights on the region and Nestle is to build a $100m plant-based centre in China.

Jeremy Coller, founder of FAIRR and chief investment Officer at Coller Capital said: “The company data published today is hard evidence that big food brands are vying for their slice of the plant-based pie. They are drastically scaling-up and skilling-up their capacity to research and develop plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy. Tangible goals for a protein transition are being put in place.

“The post-COVID landscape has made 2020 a watershed year for the sustainable protein market: the sector has attracted double the investment of last year in just six months. This engagement shows which food companies are putting in place the infrastructure and innovation to benefit from this seismic shift in the ways we shop and eat; and those that will lose out. Investors are watching closely.”

(+)