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Where the Plant-Based Industry Is Headed: A Gartner Cycle Analysis

The “boom and bust” of meat alternatives? Analyzing the industry against the Gartner Cycle may provide a more accurate image of how the market is performing and what the future is likely to bring.

In the simplest terms, the Gartner Cycle is a visual representation of the development of new technologies. Data is presented as a graph that documents stages in technology evolution, including adoption, maturity, and social application.

The commercial relevance of the model should not be underestimated. When understood and used appropriately, the Gartner Cycle can offer businesses–and entire sectors–valuable insight into emerging trends and technologies. This, in turn, allows decision-makers to choose where and to invest to maximize company profitability and longevity.

The Gartner Cycle’s five phases

Spanning five definitive moments during the development and acceptance of new technology, the Gartner Cycle can be applied to various sectors, including the plant-based industry. The Financial Times reported as such, back in January 2022, when it claimed that the cycle model could be useful for identifying if plant-based foods are simply a fad or indicative of lasting dietary shifts.

The five phases are:

Innovation Trigger

The first stage of the cycle applies to when a new technology is first introduced. This could generate interest via a ‘soft launch’ or teaser campaigns. Excitement and hype characterize this phase, as people begin to consider the potential of the technology, despite there frequently being little or no qualitative information available yet. Much of this cycle is predicated on potential adoptees of a new technology imagining what it could do for them, in an ideal world.

In a plant-based industry sense, this was observed in companies claiming to have made meat analogues indistinguishable from animal products. Consumer interest was piqued and buyers were keen to try said products.

Peak of Inflated Expectations

This is when the hype surrounding new technology reaches its peak. Optimistic predictions about the technology’s impact are often made, with mainstream media commonly cottoning on at this stage. Early adopters may start to emerge as well, despite the new technology not being ready for full deployment or still experiencing teething problems.

Trough of Disillusionment

Reality hits. This phase sees the initial hype cool and a more realistic assessment of the technology (and its limitations) kick in. For those that took a chance and invested early, disillusionment is a real risk as there is potential to discover that the technology is not as mature or applicable as they hoped.

Beyond Meat’s infamous 2022 stock crash, which came as a result of soaring production costs and legal battles,

Slope of Enlightenment

Here, technology begins to develop further, and its capabilities become more apparent. Companies that wait to adopt this phase have a more realistic overview of how the technology can benefit their organization.

Plateau of Productivity

This is the final phase of the Gartner Cycle when the technology has reached its full potential and has been adopted as a mainstream option. Solutions have been proven, and the results are quantifiable.

The Gartner Cycle is a useful tool for understanding the progress of emerging technologies, plant-based foods included. However, it has limitations of its own, chiefly that it is only a model and can fail to accurately consider factors such as the global economic market, politics, and unpredictable occurrences such as health pandemics, all of which significantly affect meat-free manufacturers.

Where is the Plant-Based Industry on the Gartner Cycle?

The plant-based industry is growing. In 2022, the global plant-based food market was valued at $39.8 billion and is projected to reach $126.9 billion by 2032. The upward trajectory of the sector is being driven by multiple factors, including increased consumer awareness of the environmental and health benefits of plant-based diets, animal welfare concerns, and the development of new plant-based products that mimic meat.

The plant-based industry is–arguably–still in the early stages of growth, but the recent downturn in fortunes for more than one major brand makes it hard to pinpoint exactly where on the Gartner Cycle the sector is as a whole.

It may be still in the Innovation Trigger or Peak of Inflated Expectations phases, as excitement remains high, especially for new products that have never before been perfected. Add in evolving but still young niches, such as precision fermentation for alternative dairy, and there is a case for the industry still being in the initial phases. However, the industry’s recent struggles could indicate that the Trough of Disillusionment has been reached.

Mainstream media has used the dramatic drop in Beyond Meat’s stock prices and Meatless Farm’s recent fall into administration and subsequent rescue by fellow plant-based brand VFC to paint a picture of a sector in trouble. Claiming that the bubble has burst for plant-based meat and alternative diets, many reports fail to consider the socioeconomic factors that have impacted consumer spending, not to mention a potential drop off in health concerns as the Covid-19 pandemic becomes a distant memory for many.

There is potential to dissect the plant-based industry into specific niches, allowing for more accurate cycle pinpointing. For example, mycelium protein development is at peak hype right now. With a handful of companies manufacturing meat alternatives made from mushroom root structures, the potential of the ‘clean’ ingredient is being widely promoted.

On the flip side, established plant-based products made with large amounts of coconut oil and sodium are seemingly losing mystique and may reach a plateau, as consumers search for healthier alternatives to traditional meat.

Comparison to other sectors

While the plant-based industry is growing at an impressive rate (reportedly up to 12.2% CAGR), it is still small compared to meat and dairy, both of which have reached the Plateau of Productivity and are established in the global food system as accepted norms. Though animal agriculture faces increasing consumer criticism and production costs, the meat and dairy sectors are still expected to grow until 2030 and beyond.

Conversely, the plant-based industry faces a number of challenges of its own, including reducing product costs, labeling legislation woes, and the need to improve product tastes and textures. However, the industry also benefits from a number of trends that maintain hype about new developments. These include increasing awareness of the benefits of plant-based eating, celebrities endorsing veganism, and global events such as Veganuary.

Where the Plant-Based Industry Is Headed

It is difficult to predict where the plant-based industry is headed accurately. However, based on the Gartner Cycle and the recognized factors driving the popularity of the sector, it seems reasonable to assume that further growth is on the cards.

The industry is likely to move into the Slope of Enlightenment or Plateau of Productivity phases in the next few years, as health-conscious and ethical consumers embrace plant-based and flexitarian diets. Moreover, as production methodologies for plant-based products continue to improve, hopefully driving down the end cost and improving mouthfeel and taste, formerly skeptical buyers might commit to regular purchases.

Brand Collaborations, Conferences, EU School Schemes, Funding and Expansions, and more

Welcome to our round-up of plant-based news. We have been keeping across what has been happening in the sector and scouring newspapers, magazines, and digital platforms to bring you the most interesting and important plant-based news. If you have news for us, why not get in touch? Please email us at [email protected] with your stories! 

New products


Launched in January, Australian alt-seafood brand is formally launching its product portfolio at Chicago’s National Restaurant Association Show (May 20-23). The brand, which claims its vegan seafood range is the largest of the kind on the market, makes vegan whitefish, salmon, tuna, crabsticks, calamari steaks and rings, jumbo prawns and shrimp bites from konjac and/or soy protein. These are designed for the US foodservice industry.

Cracked x This and Applewood

The UK vegan market has seen a significant brand collaboration. Plant-based egg brand Crackd has partnered with alt-meat startup This and cheese producer Applewood to offer plant-based quiches, which will launch exclusively at Tesco stores at the end of May.

The product range consists of Quiche Lorraine (which uses This Isn’t Bacon), Cheeze & Broccoli, and Caramelised Red Onion (all using Applewood’s smoky vegan cheese). This comes a month after the quiches won silver and bronze awards at the 2023 Farm and Deli Awards at the Food & Drink Expo. Crackd also won Product of the Year 2023 in January.

Funding and expansions

Prime Roots

US mushroom-based vegan deli meat manufacturer Prime Roots has raised $30 million in its latest financing package, taking its total funding to $50 million with a Series B round. The consortium of investors includes Quorn parent company Monde Nissin. Prime Roots makes charcuterie products like turkey, ham, salami, pepperoni, bacon, pâté and foie gras from mycelium.

The Vurger Co

UK vegan burger chain The Vurger Co has been acquired out of administration in a pre-pack sale by a new company formed by its founders alongside new and existing investors. The development will see the brand’s Canary Wharf location close, but it saves three sites in Shoreditch, Brighton and Manchester.

Founded in 2016, the company says it was heavily impacted by Covid-19, Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis. It had allegedly found a buyer at the end of last year, who pulled out at the last moment, but it has now raised the additional funds it needed to stay afloat.

Odd Burger

Canadian fast-food chain Odd Burger has announced its international expansion plans. It aims to open 150 locations in Asia – 145 in India and five in Singapore – and will open a flagship store in Mumbai by the end of the year. With 90 locations already in operation or under development in Canada, the brand also plans to expand into 25 US states and some countries in Europe.

ProVeg International

Global non-profit ProVeg International has opened its first office in Nigeria to promote the benefits of climate-friendly diets and plant-based food and help transform the food system of the world’s third fastest-growing population. The charity will serve vegan regional dishes in markets streets, schools and hospitals across the country. This follows the launch of its African accelerator programme in 2021.

Legislations and conferences

European Parliament

While the EU parliament has voted to adopt a report implementing a school scheme focusing on unprocessed, locally produced and organic food, it has rejected amendments calling for plant-based beverages to be included in the scheme. Member of European Parliament Carmen Avram (from Romania) created the report and called for a vote in favour of a motion to “end the exclusion of children with intolerances, allergies and food restrictions”, but this was rejected.

However, ProVeg International, which campaigned to include alt-milks in European schools, said the EU Commission is now working on a new proposal to make lawmakers reconsider.


Dutch event management company Bridge2Food is hosting the Plant-Based Foods & Proteins Summit Europe The Hague, Netherlands on June 7 and 8. The conference will feature over 75 speakers and panellists – including representatives from Nestlé, Unilever and Danone – as well as more than 40 exhibitors.

Selfish Cow

The summit will cover three main topics – Consumer & Industry Challenges, Delicious Foods, and Sustainable Processing Innovations – all keeping the UN’s sustainable development goals in mind.

Vegan Women Summit

The Vegan Women Summit 2023 ran from May 18-20 in New York City, featuring over 100 speakers and panellists. It was hosted by founder Jennifer Stojkovic and Miyoko’s Creamery founder Miyoko Schinner.

Topics of discussion included The State of Women in Business, Why Politics Belongs at the Dinner Table, Is the Media Fair to the Plant-Based Industry?, and How Science Will Make a More Compassionate Food System.

Discontinuations and bankruptcy


UK sausage maker is cutting down its vegan range due to a lack of consumer appetite. While it originally had 10 plant-based products in its portfolio, it is discontinuing all but two, with chipolatas and burgers being the only items it’ll keep making. This follows the withdrawal of several high-profile products in the British vegan market, including Oatly’s ice creams, Nestlé’s Garden Gourmet and Wunda lines, and Innocent’s dairy-free smoothies.

Raw Indulgence

Raw Indulgence, the US brand behind the Raw Rev protein bars, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York. The court filing states that the company has estimated assets between $500,000 and $1 million, and liabilities between $1 million and $10 million. It also cites that funds will be available to unsecured creditors.

Naturli US Launch, Nestle Ends Plant-Based Brands in The UK and Oxford City Council Goes Plant-Based  

Welcome to our fortnightly business round-up. We have scoured the newspapers, magazines, and digital platforms for the most important plant-based news stories. If you have news for us, why not get in touch? Email us at [email protected] with your stories!  

Selfish Cow

Company News  

Naturli Butter Launching in US 

Danish plant-based food firm Naturli is launching its plant-based butter in the US. Texas-based retailer H-E-B will start selling the spread in June. US distributor Kehe will also take on the product. Naturli is also in talks about expanding its ice cream sales in the UK via supermarkets.  

Very Good Company in Receivership  

Canadian meat and dairy alternative company The Very Good Food has gone into receivership after failing to secure new finance. The Vancouver-based business will continue to operate while a buyer is being sought.

Nestle Ends Plant-Based Brands in UK and Irish Retail  

Nestle is removing its vegan meat-free Garden Gourmet and alternative-dairy Wunda brands from retail in the UK and Ireland. Garden Gourmet products will still be available for foodservice in the UK and Ireland.  

Market Reports 

Innova’s Top Trends  

Despite inevitable roadblocks, the future for plant-based is rich with innovation and opportunities, according to a report from Innova Market Insights. They list plant-based as one of the top ten trends for 2023. Consumers told Innova that they are concerned about nutritional value, sustainability, global food production, and competitive pricing. 

Sports Nutrition  

The sports nutrition industry is experiencing a trend towards plant-based products in line with more people switching to plant-based eating. The Business Research Company’s Sports Nutrition Global Market Report 2023 notes that manufacturers are introducing plant-based versions of protein bars, powders and drinks. For example, US brand Osage has launched SolvPro, a new line of plant-based protein blends.   

New Foods 

Cultivated Chicken Cleared by FDA 

A second US cultivated meat company has got clearance from the US Food and Drink Administration (FDA). Good Meat, the cultivated meat division of Eat Just, received a “no questions” letter for its cultivated chicken. This follows a similar result for Upside Foods. Good Meat is now working with the US Department of Agriculture to get further approval to enable it to be sold. Good Meat has already launched cultivated chicken in Singapore. 

Demolish Launches Chicken Whole-Cuts 

Indian start-up Demolish Foods has launched plant-based whole-cut chicken breasts. The Bangalore-based alternative-protein company has created protein fibres that mimic the texture and nutritional content of meat. The company was a finalist in the XPRIZE Feed The Next billion competition, where teams compete to make meat alternatives. 

Formo Announces New PF Cream Cheese  

The German precision fermentation company Formo has created an animal-free cream cheese. Formo announced on LinkedIn that the cheese is made with microorganisms instead of milk from cows, “perfect for elevating your bagel, pasta or cheesecake”. 

Chickpea Cheese  

An Israeli company has developed a chickpea isolate that can be used to make plant-based cheese. Green Queen reports that ChickP Protein Ltd is making an isolate that is 90% protein and has a neutral flavour. This follows a prototype creamer ice cream that was released last year. ChickP is currently working on producing Emmental, parmesan and mozzarella. 


Norwich Endorses Plant-Based Treaty  

Norwich has become the third UK city to support the Plant Based Treaty. The local authority will offer plant-based food in council spaces, including markets, events, and leisure centres. So far, over 20 cities and towns worldwide have endorsed the treaty. 

Green Standard Schools Signs Pp  

The Plant Based Treaty has also been endorsed by Green Standards Schools, a global association of language schools committed to protecting the environment. 

Oxford City Council Goes Plant-Based  

Oxford City Council has voted to serve plant-based food at councillor events. Plant Based News reports that the councillors voted unanimously to ban meat at internal catered events. 

Retail and foodservice  

Meat-Free Month at Burger King in Copenhagen 

A branch of Burger King in Copenhagen has ditched meat for a month. Meat items were taken off the menu at the Radhuspladsen restaurant from March 15. Plant Based News reports that patties and fillets from the Vegetarian Butcher will replace the traditional fillings. 

Julienne Bruno in Ocado  

Artisanal vegan cheese brand Julienne Bruno has secured a listing with UK retailer Ocado. The range is made from organic soya and coconut oil using a unique fermenting process that took two years to perfect. 

Upcoming Webinar Featuring Experts From Deliveroo, Meatless Farm, Veg Capital, and More

Tuesday, February 7 at 9am EST (2pm GMT) will see new webinar series, Insider Talks launch live on Plant Based World Pulse. 

The monthly segment will feature key players in the industry as they engage in topical conversations hosted by Indy Kaur, Founder of Plant Futures and former Plant Based Strategy Lead at Tesco. 

The first topic: ‘Celebrating Plant-Based Successes and Planning for The Challenges Ahead’ features:

  • Morten Toft Bech – Founder, Meatless Farm 
  • ElenaDevis - Head of Vegan Category, Deliveroo 
  • RabinderHarrison - Commercial Director, Veg Capital 
  • MarisaHeath - CEO, Plant Based Food Alliance 
  • Simon Day – ex-Squeaky Bean and Investor 


  • How did Deliveroo lead the online delivery market to create a multi-million vegan category? 
  • How Meatless Farm became one of Europes fastest-growing plant-based brands available in over 20 countries, and what challenges lie ahead? 
  • How did Squeaky Bean go from £0 to £15m in under 3 years and what were some of the lessons, as well as the successes? 
  • Why plant-based has attracted so many investors, how they are fuelling change and why investment is becoming harder to find. 
  • Where did the early sales boom come from? And why this will be different going forwards? 
  • Is it only price that drives consumer perceptions of value? What role can taste, health or other benefits play?

The webinars will include behind-the scenes insights from major players in development, manufacturing, foodservice, retail, finance, and advocacy.  

The series aims to give those who work in the plant-based field a space for open and honest conversation about the most pressing topics, challenges and opportunities facing businesses. It is aimed at anyone working in the plant-based field or those who want to support and understand the issues driving success, the hurdles the businesses face and how others have overcome them.  

The series has been created by Plant Based Pulse World Product Manager Damoy Robertson and Indy Kaur, after they identified a need for timely debates about pressing issues.  

Insider Talks is free to attend. Register now to via the link below:

Insider Talks

Market Growth, Plant Based Treaty, Veganuary and More

We’ve trawled the news outlets and our inside sources for the most relevant and up to date plant-based business news. 

Alternative Protein 

The global alternative protein market is set to reach $73.9 billion by 2031, with an annual growth rate of 16.2%, according to a new report by Allied Market Research. The sector generated $16.6 billion in 2021. The report says Demand for plant-based protein is driven largely by a rise in health consciousness  

For those wanting to know more about this dynamic emerging sector and recent developments in the US the Good Food Institute is hosting a virtual seminar with cultivated meat industry experts on 31 Jan.  

Plant-Based Ham 

Plant-based ham is also soaring in popularity according to a report from The plant-based ham market is expected to grow from $494 million to $1000 million by 2028, with a growth rate of around 12.7%. Growth was particularly marked in the US and Europe, especially Germany.  

Fast Food  

The world of vegan fast food is also heading for dramatic growth according to Future Market Insights. VegNews reports that the global fast food market is expected to be worth nearly $28 billion and is expected to rise to $28 billion by 2033. The growth is likely due to changing attitudes towards health, animals, and the environment.  

Veganuary Effect  

The annual vegan challenge has record number of participants. With global figures not yet in, in the UK with one person has been signing up every 2.4 seconds. A YouGov poll found that 71% of British adults has herd of the pledge and more than 21% have taken past since the challenge began in 2014. As for plant-based businesses, there have been some significant new launches in the sector to coincide with the campaign. The Guardian reports that a combination of Veganuary and inflation has led to restaurants cutting down on meat offerings. Figures from Lumina Intelligence show that only 20% of restaurant dishes at restaurant chains last summer contained meat, a drop of four percentage points from last spring.   

Product News  

Cell-based meat Lab grown meat could be in American dinner plates “within months”. Leah Douglas at Reuters reports that in November 2022 the US Food and Drug Administration approved one cultivated meat product, a chicken breast grown by UPSIDE Foods, as safe for human consumption. Upside is now hoping to bring its products to restaurants in 2023 and to supermarkets in 2028.  

Alt-dairy A former space scientist who worked for SpaceX, GoogleX and Impossible Foods has founded a vegan cheese company. Dr Oliver Zahn has raised $27 million and used advanced tech to develop plant-based “moonshot cheeses” that match dairy on taste texture and price.  

Spanish start-up Väcka is making plant-based cheese with fermented melon seeds. Barcelona-based company uses liquid from upcycled seeds in place of almond milk in its Mözza and Chxdder varieties.  

Alt-seafood New Zealand/US firm NewFish will be working with Cawthorn Institute to create and commercialise a fish replacement made from microalgae. The partnership hopes develop a new source of protein to combat the issues of depleted fish stocks and plastic pollution.  

Plant Based Treaty 

Edinburgh is the first European capital city to sign up to the Plant Based Treaty, a grassroots initiative to combat the climate crisis. The treaty will transition schools and council meetings to plant-based food and introduce carbon labelling in restaurants. The Treaty has been endorsed by cities in India, the US, Turkey, and the UK, where the public can email their councillors and to endorse the treaty as an individual or business.  

Public Procurement 

Also in the UK a report from Systemiq and the University of Exeter calls on the government to introduce plant-based food into prisons, schools, hospitals and other state run institutions. They identified public procurement as a “super leverage point” for creating changes in the global food system. Plant Based Treaty are calling on the UK public to email their councillors and request that their city signs up and to endorse the treaty as an individual or business.  


Milltrust Ventures and Earth First Food Ventures are launching a new $300m Smart Protein Fund to support the development of alternative proteins, according to City AM. The new fund aims t enable the scaling up of alternative meat production to help the food industry meet net-zero goals.   

The Grocery Gazette reports that plant-based brands are surging ahead in food sector crowdfunding campaigns. The Seedrs annual report says there is a 24% rise in successful campaigns in the vegan category, with plant-based businesses raising £105.1m in total. 

The Pack, a UK vegan dog food start-up has raised $995,514 in seed-funding from Vevolution and private investors. Backers include Mars, Scelta Mycofriends, Veg Capital and Kale United plus some alternative protein angel investors.  


Plant-based brands are well known for having the most humorous ad campaigns. With new campaigns launched by Allplants, This and Eat Just, Vegconomist looked back at the most creative ads over the past 12 months 

Want to be included in our round up? Send your press releases and updates to [email protected] 

DAO Foods – Empowering Changemakers for 1.4 Billion Consumers

Plant Based World Pulse had the opportunity to sit down with Albert Tseng, co-founder of Dao Foods to discuss the massive opportunity that exists for plant-based foods in China.

A Billion Dollar Opportunity


Albert Tseng, co-founder of Dao Foods

“China represents a market of 1.4 billion consumers. The marketplace is currently akin to what you may have experienced in the United States about 7-8 years ago, with many products in a development phase and not too many of them yet being seen as permanent items on menus”, Tseng shares.

This perspective alone should perk up the ears of any investor in this space. If the trajectory of the Chinese marketplace follows anywhere near what we have seen in the United States, the next decade will be an exciting one for the evolution of food culture in China. Combine that with the immensity of  1.4 billion consumers with many challenges needing to be solved, and there is clearly some money to be made.

Key opportunities exist in both retail, where packaged plant-based products have not yet penetrated the shelves to their full potential and in foodservice, where highly advanced food delivery technology makes trying new things accessible for the many eaters in urban areas throughout China.

“For people living in cities in China”, Tseng shares, “it is not uncommon to be able to get food delivered to your door in under 20 minutes at no additional charge. Companies are constantly running promotions making it easy for customers to try something new once. The challenge, however, is getting those customers to repeat their purchases. There is a high volume of options to move on to something else if they have not been blown away by their first experience with a new item.”

Change is Necessary

Dao Foods mission is to support the entrepreneurs who are pushing forward to shift the food system in the face of the cultural challenges that the past few years have presented. While the global landscape has been difficult to work within, it has also made it clearer than ever that innovation is a necessary solution.  

Dao is currently invested in 16 Chinese companies committed to bringing about a healthier and more sustainable food system. These companies range from producers of meat and dairy alternatives to synthetic biology, mycelium fermentation and even cultured meat. Dao has taken a holistic approach to evolving the food system by seeking out seriously mission-driven entrepreneurs and enterprises that are tackling challenges from a wide variety of angles.

Collaboration in Foodservice

One of the stars of the portfolio is Starfield Food Science and Technology, a Shenzhen company focused on developing meat alternatives, prepared foods, snacks, and protein bars. Starfield recently closed a $100 million series B fundraising round, which can serve as a sign to anyone keen on investing in the Chinese market that there is some real activity and interest in bringing these products to market. Starfield is ahead of the curve, having already sold in over 37,000 locations and collaborating with recognizable names such as 7/11 and KFC. Starfield received a plethora of “New Product” awards in 2021 and will be a name to keep an eye on as the market continues to expand.

Communicating Health Benefits

Another company in the portfolio is called 70/30, based out of Shanghai. “70/30 takes a unique approach to communicating the benefits of their products. The 70 in the name represents 70% whole foods – meaning the healthy stuff that our bodies really want and need. The 30% represents fun and tasty, which is essential to get customers to try the products and come back for more. 70/30 is also unique in that their packaging leads with the functional benefits of the foods, rather than leading with the term ‘Plant-based’ or ‘vegan’”, shares Tseng.

The decision to lead with the functionality and nutrition information rather than the ‘plant-based’ labelling allows 70/30 to target customers who would not normally be looking for a plant-based option, but might just happen to try it because they are looking for those nutritional benefits. They believe in convenience as a key factor for Chinese eaters and have built a philosophy based on combining technology with ready meals to make their products as convenient and functional as possible.

The way 70/30 embodies this philosophy is fascinating. To discover the most functional white meat alternative they came across mycelium as the base ingredient. “Mushrooms have long been approved for human consumption in China due to their medicinal uses”, Tseng shares. “This made the process for 70/30 to use these ingredients easier, as they are already culturally accepted. The challenge then becomes how to use science appropriately to use that same base ingredient as a meat alternative”.  

70/30 is about to launch their ready meal products into market and represents a great example of how the plant-based industry is necessarily affected by each region’s unique culture and history. As human health continues to be a leading motivator for people to shift to plant-based foods, how interesting would it be for medicinal mushrooms, used for human health since ancient times, to play a major role in the manifestation of a healthier food system? 

Investing In Abundance with Big Idea Ventures

“That’s the goal, right? If we can create a range of products that satisfy everybody’s taste, then it’s not about abstinence – it’s about abundance.” -Andrew Ive, Managing General Partner, Big Idea Ventures

This message of abundance is the guiding philosophy of Andrew Ive and his team at Big Idea Ventures. This food-focused, forward-thinking firm has established itself as a unique resource for companies looking to grow within the alternative protein space.

Big Idea Venture’s mission is simple and impactful: solve the world’s biggest challenges by supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs. The proof is in the oat-milk pudding… two thirds of BIV’s first cohort of startups ended up receiving over $1 million in funding from outside investors after working with the firm. Alongside these seed funding initiatives, BIV reinvests 60% of its funds into its best companies, creating waves of impact at multiple levels.

Andrew’s work through Big Idea Venture’s is successful because it is aligned. His career started in the mainstream cosmetic retail world at Proctor and Gamble. Though, he found a deeper sense of purpose when he shifted to working in the food space.

He cites with passion, “food touches people, it touches families… and it has the power to solve many of the world’s problems related to climate, ethics and health”.

This is meaningful work, as anyone who is a part of the plant-based community can attest to. To go along with his sense of purpose, Andrew has become keenly aware of his skillset and the unique areas where he and his team are able to add value for clients.

“The things I am decent at are unpacking what’s making a company work and what’s making a company fail, and understanding the different pieces of that puzzle and how to rearrange them to help that company grow.”

Specialization at it’s finest! Andrew started out in retail, ventured into the broad world of food technology and then narrowed his focus down specifically to alternative proteins. This is the area where his energy could be used most efficiently. Three years later, Big Idea Ventures is using the resources and experience of the traditional CPG industry and applying it to a vision for a healthier world.


Barriers and Opportunities for Alternative Protein

Consumers know and like alternative proteins, but want improvements in taste, price, and nutritional content, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group and Blue Horizon Corporation.  The study found that the share of consumers eating only or mostly alternative proteins would double if certain barriers were overcome.  

The researchers asked 3700 people in seven countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia about alternative protein. They found that consumers are open to alternatives but want better tasting and healthier products. Consumers cited taste, nutritional value, and price as the attributes that they valued the most.  

“Peak Meat” 

The findings suggest that the developing world might reach “peak meat” over the next couple of decades, paving the way for a more resilient, sustainable, and stable food system. The transformation is supported by investment and technological innovation, but certain barriers must be overcome if alternative protein is to reach its potential.  

Anuj Maheshwari of Temesek Holdings, a contributor to the report says: “By 2035, if alternative proteins reach full parity in taste, texture, and price with conventional animal proteins, we anticipate that 11% of all the meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy eaten around the globe will be made from alternative proteins. With a push from regulators and step changes in technology, that number could reach 22%.”  

However, she warns that: “It is not a given that consumers will switch to alternative proteins for the sake of climate impact, unless expectations for taste, texture, cost, and nutritional value are met.”  

Global Demand 

Awareness of alternative proteins amongst consumers was around 70%, with around 60% having tried the food, with 35% identifying as frequent, near-exclusive or exclusive consumers. Consumers in the UAE are the most open to alternative proteins and French consumers the most hesitant.  

Chinese consumers reported high awareness and consumption. As contributor Albert Tseng of Dao Foods said: “We will not be able to prevent people in China or anywhere else from consuming more proteins. But you can convince consumers to buy the right ones. This is our task.”  

Contributors Eugène Klerk and Daniel Rupli of Credit Suisse put the challenge this way: “Inhibitors differ globally: In more developed countries we need to motivate consumers to switch from traditional proteins to alternative ones. In less developed countries, we need to avoid consumers adopting traditional proteins and directly move to alternative ones.”  

Healthier Choices 

Improvements in the in the health aspects of products are especially important. Three-quarters of the respondents cited health as the primary motivator, and it is the top driver in all markets other than France, where it is number two. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of alternative proteins for health reasons, especially in China.  

Health concerns and taste are the biggest barriers to consumption across all markets. Rahul Ray of Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods, adds, “Producers need to clean up the ingredient list. Otherwise, there is a risk that consumers will step away as the products look too processed.”  

 Taste and Cost 

When it comes purchasing decisions taste and price are key criteria. “Animal-based proteins are often understood as superior across multiple attributes,” says Lisa Sweet of the World Economic Forum. “So, in the next couple of years, if alternative proteins are able to achieve a lower price point, that could be a critical enabler to motivate consumers to switch.”  

The report found that investors understand the opportunities offered by alternative protein, and that capital investment has risen at an annual rate of 124% over a two-year period from $1 billion in 2019 to $5 million in 2021. Investment is increasingly global, with increased funding from the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region.  

Innovations in Manufacturing 

The report also looked at innovations in ingredients, processes, and software, that are making alternative protein more palatable and viable. Notable successes include Perfect Day, Better Dairy, Nobell Foods, Moolec Science, and Change Foods using plants, yeasts, and fungi in animal-free casein to replicate the melting and stretching characteristics of cheese. Nature’s Fynd has developed new textures for meat and dairy substitutes from filamentous fungi. Fiberstar and PeelPioneers are using orange peel to replace methyl cellulose. La Vie’s proprietary processing technology helped produce a solid “fat that sizzles” in its plant-based bacon.   

The report’s impact analysis shows that alternative protein is one of the best tools available to combat the climate crisis. But it concludes that if consumption of it is to grow consumer acceptance must improve. As Sir Charles Godfray of the University of Oxford puts it: “We need to keep one thing in mind: we do not eat proteins, we eat meals,”