Follow the💰Money: Investors are Flocking to New Plant-Based Trends

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It’s another nerdy Monday here at The Modern Health Nerd, my friends! In this week’s news roundup, investors are getting excited about plant-based 🌱 proteins and the new darling of the industry: fermentation. 🍄

Big Names Say, “Oh Hai, Alt Proteins!”

$1.5 billion is a lot of money — exactly what investors poured into alt protein companies from January to July 2020, in fact. The Good Food Institute has been keeping an eye on investment trends, and so far, all signs point to a bright 💡 future for startups focusing on plant-sourced alternative foods, fabrics and ingredients. 🍴👗🧪

It’s not just about the novelty. Companies receiving funding are also contributing to the development of more sustainable 🌎 solutions, a premise that’s becoming increasingly more attractive to conscientious consumers. The demand is enough to draw funding from big-name investors like Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Danone…and even Tyson Foods.

Fermentation is Heating Up, Too 🔥

In a classic demonstration of “everything old is new again,” fermentation is getting its moment in the spotlight. It’s a technique that’s been in use for thousands of years — one that continues to be loved by gut health enthusiasts the world over. Now, startups are harnessing the power of microbes 🦠 to produce novel protein products, and investors want a piece of the rapidly-growing pie. 🥧

Just how fast is it growing? The market has expanded 📈 from a single company to 44 focusing on fermented alt proteins. Nearly half of these appeared on the scene in the last 18 months or so, and investors have already dumped a whopping $435 million into their growth and development.

Image by delo from Pixabay

…And No Wonder, Since It’s the Next Big Alt Protein Thing

Part of the growing excitement no doubt has something to do with the Good Food Institute’s declaration of fermentation as the “third pillar” of alt protein. There’s been a lot of buzz around new developments in plant-based and cultured proteins, but tiny microbes are quickly muscling 💪🏻 their way (pun intended) into the meat 🥩 space.

Fungi, algae and other high-producing microorganisms are the superstars for companies capitalizing on this trend, largely because they can produce a whole lot of protein 🍄 in a short period of time. This gives fermentation startups room to scale and capture more of the market as consumers continue to experiment with plant-based 🌱 alternatives.

Meanwhile, AI is Unlocking Plants’ Superhero Sides

And then you have the consumers looking to up their games beyond replacing meat with novel proteins. That’s where Brightseed comes in. The company is using its AI-powered platform 💻 to mine the depths of possibility afforded by phytonutrients.

Known for their antioxidant properties and associated with a wide range of health benefits, 🏃🏻‍♀️🏋🏻 phytonutrients could be the next frontier in functional ingredients. Brightseed recently raised $27 million to continue lifting the veil of mystery surrounding these powerful plant components, all in response to consumer demand for healthier food products. 🥗

What’s the Impact of All This, Anyway?

Some people might ask: Why bother? Why are so many startups going to all the trouble of replacing animal proteins and ingredients across so many industries? A new impact report highlighting the “days of suffering“ associated with common animal products sheds some light on the matter.

It’s no secret that factory farming has massive negative repercussions for people, the environment and, most of all, the animals 🐷🐮🐔 living out their (very brief) lives in the system. Faunalytics has put together a series of infographics to help entrepreneurs seeking to reduce animal suffering and consumers interested in putting kinder, more sustainable alternatives on their plates.

As a big fan of fermentation, these headlines have me excited. 😄 Microbes and mushrooms are at the heart of so many amazing innovations. Keep your eye on the companies in that space, because it’s likely to explode 💥 in the near future!


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