Plantcraft, a vegan deli-meat startup out of Hungary, launched its products in the US, while Alt Foods launched its millet-and-grain-based milk online in India. In Sweden, alt-seafood brand Hooked went for a trifecta in 2021 – they not only launched their product range but also raised a fresh €3.8 million in funding, and landed a spot on this list of Europe’s most-funded plant-based companies.
Top industry triumphs
We should say again that 2021 has been an amazing year for food tech! It would be impossible to list all of the industry successes here. Well actually, we could but nobody wants to read an encyclopaedic blog post. So we’ve picked out just a few of our favourites.
First up, an astounding number of new products and categories emerged this year. Singapore startup Shiok Meats developed the world’s first cultured crab, while Melibio started producing real honey using fermentation technology instead of bees. Cultured pet food made its global debut and a startup from India invented a plant-based milk alternative made from potatoes!
After rebranding as the EVERY Company, the startup formally known as Clara Foods unveiled the world’s first animal-free egg protein and went on to raise a cool $175 million to launch. Also in the US, the tuna alternative from Kuleana, founded by former ProVeg Incubator employee Jacek Prus, was named one of Time Magazine’s best inventions of 2021.
A year of record funding rounds
Let’s also dip a collective toe into the funding pool. Although the alt-seafood industry is still fairly embryonic, there’s no denying that there’s lucrative potential. This is capturing the attention of investors around the world. In the first half of 2021, the alternative seafood sector raised a record $116 million. For a bit of perspective – that’s more than was raised in the whole of 2020.
On the startup front, Melt & Marble landed a sizeable €750,000 to make fermented animal fats without the use of animals, while London-based startup THIS secured the largest ever funding round (£11 million) for a UK-based alt-meat company. On the other side of the pond, Chilean food-tech company NotCo raised a staggering $235 million to expand its AI-designed plant-based dairy business.
Finally, this roundup would not be complete without mentioning the EU rejecting plans for unprecedented restrictions on the packaging, naming, and promotion of plant-based dairy. This is an issue that our colleagues at ProVeg campaigned strongly against and we can confidently say that the win really does benefit the entire alt-protein industry.
Milestones from the ProVeg Incubator
In 2021, we worked with 17 food-tech startups from 13 different countries. As well as adding new countries to our global portfolio – including Japan, Bulgaria, Mexico, and Estonia – we also ventured into new product categories. UK-based brand Omni – our first pet-food startup – develops plant-based, nutritionally complete, vet-backed food for dogs. Eggfield, meanwhile, was our first startup to work on plant-based egg alternatives.