The alternative protein space is rapidly expanding at a global level. Consumers and companies are seeking solutions to decrease factory farming in an effort to promote animal welfare and climate health. Juliana Green, Senior Associate at Unovis Asset Management provided the companies’ outlook on the performance trends of the US and global alternative protein landscape, during her presentation at both the Exhibition and Summit Plant-Based Foods & Proteins Europe 2021 in June. We took the opportunity to ask Juliana a few more questions, about collaboration opportunities & challenges, and how Unovis can contribute.
What was the key/take-home message of your presentation?
Our intent was to offer our perspective on the rapid growth of the alternative protein market. The Good Food Institute has done an incredible job educating the public on the impact and growth of the plant-based sector from both the US and a global perspective. As mentioned in the presentation, the US plant-based category has grown by over 40% in the past two years and has received over $2 Billion in funding, a >200% increase from 2019… And this is just the start!
Where is the white space for collaboration in your view?
There are several untapped opportunities within the three sub-sectors (i.e. plant-based, cell-based, fermented) of the alternative protein market, especially opportunities at the category level. The next phase of development for many companies will be offering animal alternatives currently missing in the market today. For example, there are very few lamb, boar, or deli meat offerings. Wicked Foods, lead by Pete Speranza, has built a strong brand presence in the UK, offering a variety of gourmet quality deli meats. They are planning to launch in the US this month. Black Sheep lead by Sunny Kumar, is one of the only companies preparing to launch a high-quality lamb burger, which will be available in certain premium restaurants. Abbot’s Butcher, lead by Kerry Song, has created the next generation of premium, “clean label” plant-based meats, including Chorizo. In the seafood category, there are very few fish options available in the market today. Good Catch, lead by Christine Mei, originally launched with tuna, however, they are rapidly innovating to expand the frozen seafood offerings available in grocery stores. Finally, the dairy category is relatively mature as it pertains to the milk category, however, there is still room in the market for other types of cheeses, such as hard, block cheeses with a rind. Vegan cheese companies are also looking to improve the melt, stretch and shred qualities of certain cheeses. NUMU Vegan has optimized the melt and texture qualities of mozzarella, which has gained the attention of gourmet pizzerias in the New York region.
What are the collaboration opportunities & challenges?
As with any industry, there are significant challenges the alternative protein sector will need to overcome to continue the momentum. The most important challenge: Creating the ideal consumer experience. Optimizing taste, texture, price, and convenience are critical steps in achieving customer acceptance. Although many companies have dramatically improved at the product level, there are still significant opportunities to improve the affordability and accessibility of plant-based, cell-based, and fermented alternatives. The second critical challenge: infrastructure required to scale. To successfully manufacture any alternative protein products at scale, sufficient access to facilities, equipment and key experts in manufacturing technology will be necessary to meet customer demand. Finally, there are opportunities to optimize the nutritional content of certain plant-based products. Some companies are focused on offering products that are considered to be nutritionally superior to animal alternatives. However, other companies are focused on creating plant-based products that mirror the nutritional profile of the animal alternative by optimizing the ratios of certain ingredients.
How can your organization contribute and in what kind of role?
As one of the leading VCs in the alternative protein industry, Unovis offers guidance to fuel the growth and development of emerging companies. By funding new and existing technologies, we strive to strategically and financially support the innovation, development, and success of plant-based and cell-based alternatives. We play an active role in our companies with the intent of making our founders’ dreams a reality. Our mission and vision is to decrease factory farming and improve our climate by investing in founders who share our vision.
About Unovis Asset Management
Unovis Asset Management is a global leader in the alternative protein sector. Unovis’ investment firm partners with entrepreneurs developing innovative plant-based and cultivated replacements to animal products, including meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs. Their goal is to transform the global food system by investing in solutions that facilitate sustained behavioural change and eliminate the consumption of animal protein products. To learn more about Unovis Asset Management, please visit their website.
About Juliana Green
Juliana graduated from the University of California, Berkeley where she explored the fundamentals of health and food. Prior to joining Unovis, Juliana worked in mergers and acquisitions, supporting diligence, strategy, and integration activities in corporate development for a life sciences firm. She also gained experience working for PwC’s capital markets and accounting advisory group while completing her CPA. Juliana earned her Master’s in Accounting from UVA and has assisted in startups focused on dietary compliance to improve cardiovascular health. You can follow her here on LinkedIn.
Meet Juliana and Unnovis Asset Management team at the upcoming Summit + Expo Plant-Based Foods & Proteins Americas 2021 (27-29 September)
Summit + Expo Plant-Based Foods & Proteins Americas 2021 (27-29 September, 09:00 am – 5:30 pm CST Chicago Time)
For Industry Insights, Networking & Business Development
Target audience: Retail, Food Service, Food Brands, Food Ingredients, Food Processing, Research Institutes, Universities, VC
>Thought Leading Speakers & Panels
>Networking Breaks with Business Meetings & Live
27 September – Day I – Plant-Based Foods Industry
28 September – Day II – New Formulations & Ingredients
29 September – Day III – Startup Acceleration