2021 Record Year For Alt Protein Investment, With APAC Showing Significant Funding Growth

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Non-profit think tank the Good Food Institute (GFI) APAC has released a report documenting the alt-protein sector’s growth within the APAC region and globally over the past year. Highlights include a 60 percent increase in funding into the sector on a global level, with fermentation and cultivated projects claiming more funding than ever before. Overall, alt protein companies raised $5 billion worldwide, with $312 million invested in APAC.

New data highlights APAC as a key region in the growing alternative protein industry, taking a 6 percent share of all investments made. This is, in part, thanks to significant funding rounds from Singapore’s Next Gen Foods and Australia’s v2food. Together, they account for $140 million of 2021’s sector investments.

Breakdown of 2021 alt protein funding.

Incredible growth all around

2020’s report shone a light on APAC as the fastest-growing alt-protein region in the world. GFI focuses on PitchBook for accurate data and cited a record $3.1 billion as invested globally, with $206 million attributed to APAC alone. However, 2020’s figures have been amended by GFI to account for companies who changed protein focus, and to work with PitchBook’s own subsequent data revisions. According to the latest report, 2020 brought it $162 million in APAC investments, which would indicate a YoY growth of 92%.

APAC funding breakdown by protein type.

Breakdown by protein type

Breaking down the $312 million, plant-based proteins are still the main investment driver, claiming $220 million, but fermentation and cultivated breakthroughs are on the up and up. The former sub-sector scooped $30 million, up from just $1 million in 2020. Australian companies were major drivers for fermentation investment with All G Foods raising $16 million in a seed funding round. Nourish Ingredients brought $11 to the pot in March last year and Eden Brew raised $3 million, accounting for the sub-sector total of $30 million. Cultivated meat startups drew $62 million, up from $44 million the year before.

Globally, North America’s market share has dropped to 67 percent.

North America’s share shrinks

Interestingly, North America’s share of global tickets has shrunk by a third as other regions develop homegrown alt protein markets including the Middle East (10%) and Latin America (6%), both of which more than doubled YoY. Europe accounted for 10% of total funding, down from 16% in 2020. North America still saw a 51 percent rate of year-on-year growth, however, claiming $3.1 billion of the global $5 billion raised and companies in the region accounted for 58 percent of plant-based operations and 51 percent of cultivated alternatives.

The path ahead

2022 has started with a bang for the The APAC region in terms of funding rounds. Next Gen Foods’ historic record breaking Series A raise, reported last month, and China’s Starfield Food Science & Technology’s $100 million in a Series B mean that next year’s report will surely be the region’s most investment-heavy year yet.

One area that is lagging is fermentation, and in their report GFI recommends that startups reconsider the potential of this technology. “Given that fermentation-enabled proteins have the potential to almost single-handedly resolve the global protein deficit, APAC startups, policymakers, and investors would be wise to view this rapidly expanding sector as an area for enormous regional growth,” the report reads.

Regardless of protein format, Singapore remains APAC’s shining star in terms of government support and regulatory environment, earning its place as a locus of alt protein activist on the global stage. However, South Australia just announced a massive AU$278 million project to transform the region into a plant-protein powerhouse. Three new production facilities will be built to support the endeavour, which will be supported by a predominantly domestic supply chain.


All graphs courtesy of GFI APAC. Lead photo by GOOD Meat/Eat Just.

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