Last week, the Swedish oat milk brand Oatly announced that it had raised $200 million from investors like Blackstone Group and Oprah Winfrey. The prior week, Perfect Day, a company that makes lab-grown ingredients for dairy-free products, including a very realistic version of ice cream, raised $160 million. Earlier in the year, Impossible Foods raised half a billion dollars. A long list of other companies have also raised money during the pandemic, from MycoTechnology, a company that uses a mushroom platform to ferment protein, to Blue Nalu, which is making seafood in bioreactors.
In the first half of the year, U.S. alternative meat, egg, and dairy companies raised 14% more—more than $850 million—than they had raised in the entirety of 2019, which was also a record-breaking year, according to the Good Food Institute, an organization that tracks the industry. “Cultivated” or “cell-based” meat companies, growing food from animal cells, raised 417% more than in all of 2019. In part, it’s a continuation of a long-term trend. “2019 really appeared to be the tipping point where plant-based meat shifted into the mainstream,” says Caroline Bushnell, associate director of corporate engagement at the Good Food Institute. “Not only did we see the major meat companies debut plant-based product lines—pretty much all of them, from Tyson, to Hormel, to Smithfield—but iconic American restaurant chains like Burger King and Dunkin Donuts added plant-based meats to their menus, and retail sales grew double digits. So the momentum coming into this moment was already really strong.”