The rise of plant-based products
The world is shaped by them. Some for good, some for not-so-good. Nevertheless, trends share a common denominator effect in our world—change.
Genius Juice is riding the coconut-based-everything trend to 2,800+ stores across the U.S.
Way back in the eighties, a doctor named T. Colin Campbell coined the term, “plant-based diet.” At this time, it was loosely defined—and often accompanied by—health-conscious descriptors such as “low fat,” “high fiber,” and “vegetable-based.”
Today, those descriptors have largely remained relevant, but have been overshadowed by more contemporary terms that reflect the latest advances in diet science. “Gluten-free,” “non-GMO,” “vegan,” and “soy-free” now rule the lexicon of the plant-based diet.
Not until recently has the plant-based craze really caught on—moving from fad to lifestyle. Who would've thought that “Big Fast Food” would one day offer meatless burgers? Why is this so? Why did it take so long? Did Dr. C. lack a powerful PR team to spread his valuable knowledge?
LUPii needs no PR—these-protein packed snacks are objectively delicious
Not so much. It was the food industry that was lacking, mainly in two key areas: convenience and products. Once healthy alternatives hit grocers’ shelves, people started to adopt a “greener lifestyle.” Some dipped a toe, while others dove head first—for a variety of reasons.
Factors that influence plant-based purchases
Protecting the earth, animals, workers, and one's health are the main drivers behind a consumer’s decision to buy a plant-based product.
According to research from UCLA Sustainability, if each and every person in the United States gave up meat and dairy products on one or more days of the week, we would save the environment from thousands of tons of carbon emissions.
Upright oatmilk is an excellent alternative to dairy, with all the same benefits and none of the shortcomings.
Humane Society International stresses the importance of reducing (or eliminating) the consumption of animal products to curb the amount of suffering that land animals face. The US is first in the meat-eater category, with each American consuming around 274 pounds of meat per year on average. That's over half a cow. We're not here to preach animal welfare ethics, but we know that most food animals don't lead the happiest lives.
Often, workers in the meat and dairy industries are not given fair wages, are subjected to unsafe work conditions on fast-moving refrigerated lines, and have to work long, backbreaking hours. The days of the unionized meatpacking plant are over. Plant-based producers offer an alternative.
The Cleveland Clinic has found that a plant-based diet can significantly lower the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and many other diseases.
The growing market for plant-based food
Currently, the plant-based protein market is worth an estimated $7B. During the Covid-19 shutdown, sales of plant-based foods grew almost twice as fast as the U.S. retail food market (15% growth), increasing by 27% in 2020.
The future looks positive for the industry, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.9% through 2027, when it is estimated to be valued at $74.2B.
New ingredients are popping up everywhere
Most of us are familiar with chickpeas, soy, and soy products like tofu, but there have been a myriad of new ingredients introduced into the recipes of plant-based foods lately.
Here are a few popular ones, along with their health benefits:
Lupini beans have 3x more protein than eggs, 3x more fiber than oats—at least twice as much as other legumes; cholesterol-lowering phytosterols; and all nine essential amino acids, which is a must for vegetarians.
Kelp. Yes, kelp, the seaweed that's basically sea trees. Courtney Boyd Meyers, CEO and CMO of kelp jerky and kelp-burger maker Akua, tells us that, “kelp is nutrient-rich, requires zero inputs to grow, and tastes delicious!” It's packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. According to published studies, kelp is correlated with improvements in thyroid conditions, diabetes, certain autoimmune diseases, and even some cancers
Mushrooms are a rich, low calorie source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They may also mitigate the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes
Capital is flowing into plant-based products
American plant-based meat, egg, and dairy substitute companies raised $2.7 billion in capital between 2010 and 2020. Surprisingly, $1.2 billion of this total was raised between 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, which speaks to the meteoric rise in popularity of the category.
Some firms are even developing dedicated funds for plant-based companies. Big Idea Ventures has created the New Protein Fund, which claims to be “the first and largest plant-based accelerator fund.” Its value is estimated at around $50 million.
On the heels of recent fundraising successes, more and more plant-based success stories are sprouting up. Recent notable IPOs and successful exits include some big names. Do note than none of these companies used Reg CF for funding pre-IPO or acquisition.
Beyond Meat went public on May 2, 2019. As of June 15, 2021, it's trading at well over its IPO price. Beyond Meat is the first publicly traded plant-based protein company and the first unicorn (valuation $1B+) in its industry.
Oatly - Went public on May 20, 2021. As of June 15, 2021, it's trading over its IPO price.
Gardein - Founded in 2003, acquired by Pinnacle Foods in 2014 for $154M.
Fully-funded plant-based deals on Republic
Republic has been a popular platform for plant-based product founders to raise critical early-stage funding from their faithful fans. Here are three recent success stories on our platform.
A meat-alt company making plant-based foods from regenerative aquaculture. What this means in practice is that AKUA produces protein from kelp, “zero-input food,” that requires no dry land or fresh water, no pesticides or fertilizer.
Looks like bacon, tastes like jerky, made from mushrooms. Compared to beef jerky, one bag of Moku saves 12 square feet of land, 107 gallons of water, and 11 pounds of methane.
Plant-based ice cream made from organic coconut cream. Delicious, vegan, and hypoallergenic.
Current plant-based offerings on Republic
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Investments into vegetarian food, alternative meat, plant-based protein