New alternative protein fund raises $23 million in capital

2 Sep 2020

New alternative protein venture capital fund, Lever VC, announced that it has $23 million in commitments. The fund will focus on investing in early stage plant-based and cell-cultivated meat and dairy companies. The company said that it remains open to additional investors until it reaches its final close.

The fund was founded by veteran investors that have proved their mettle in the alt-protein investment world with $1.5 billion in early stage investments in some of today’s titans – Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats, Just, Aleph Farms and Kite Hill – as well as 40 other early stage alternative protein deals.

New alternative protein fund raises $23 million in capital

So far, the fund has invested $5 million into 10 companies, including Better Meat Co., Good Planet Foods, Mission Barns, The Good Spoon and TurtleTree Labs. Other investments are also on the horizon, The Spoon reported that the new fund already has its eye on up to 25 investments for dollar ranges of between $200,000 and $1 million. Nick Cooney a managing partner at the fund told Food Navigator that the firm is looking for startups that are innovating in categories that “are not yet saturated;” Lever VC maintains a database of 1,200 potential candidates from across the globe. Cooney explicitly excluded companies working on beef burgers or sausage from the company's realm of interest saying, “It’s hard to think of a company that could come along and produce a product better than where Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are right now.”

This fund is stepping onto the stage as interest in plant-based companies is reaching frothy new heights. Globally, investment in the industry has reached $1.1 billion in the first half of 2020, which is double that which was invested in 2019, according to a report published by FAIRR. The total valuation of the plant-based food market was tallied at $5 billion according to a pre-pandemic analysis from SPINS.

Cooney told Food Navigator that this growth is only just beginning and he expects plant-based meats to capture 10% of the protein market in the coming decade.

Part of the interest in this space is due to the pandemic pushing more consumers to sample protein that is not derived from animals. Products that are plant-based benefit from a health halo that many consumers said make them feel better, according to a DuPont Nutrition & Health study from 2018. Such an association has recently been elevated in consumer considerations as many look toward food as an opportunity to improve their overall health. At the same time, many consumers view plant-based products as a safe source of protein. In the U.S. dozens of meat processing plants shuttered as cases of Covid-19 spread through workers that were confined to close quarters.

Still, even when the pandemic crisis abates, plant-based food is likely to maintain its enormous popularity. With sales spiking in triple digits and up 29% over two years ago, investing in this category is undoubtedly going to be a good bet for Lever VC.

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