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Alternative Proteins Startups

Alternative protein is a broad category that includes everything from insect proteins to algae and other plants. The demand for alternative proteins is growing due to concerns about the sustainability of the current global food system, as well as consumers’ desire for more plant-based foods. Consequently, there are now a number of companies that have or are developing products in this segment.

What is the current state of the alternative protein market?

The global market for alternative proteins is expected to grow from $35 billion in 2019 to $96 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate of 12.2%. While plant-based proteins are the biggest sub-category, insect-based proteins are expected to grow the fastest.

The U.S. is the largest market for alternative proteins, both in terms of total volume and in terms of the percentage of protein that is alternative based. While most of the products in this segment have been aimed at the high-end, health-conscious market, there is a growing focus on appealing to a broader array of consumers, including those who are trying to reduce their meat consumption for environmental or health reasons. Major meat producers, like Tyson and Cargill, are also investing in this space, and will likely be releasing their own products in the coming years.

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What are the top alternative protein sources?

The top three sources of alternative protein are all legumes – soy, peas, and beans. Soy is one of the oldest and most commonly used alternative proteins.

It is extracted from the seeds of the soybean plant, and is often used as a replacement for dairy products as well as meat. The majority of U.S. soy production is used for feed for livestock.

Pea protein is extracted from yellow peas, and is mainly used as a vegan and vegetarian alternative to dairy products. It is also high in protein and amino acids, and is often used as a meat alternative in products. Bean protein is extracted from white navy beans, black beans, and fava beans. It is often used as an alternative to dairy products, as well as meat in vegetarian and vegan dishes. It is high in fiber and protein, making it a very nutritious addition to various foods.

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The amount of funds invested in the alternative protein space is expected to increase substantially in the coming years.

In 2019, $2.3 billion was invested in this space, a significant increase from $1.1 billion in 2017. The food and beverage sector as a whole attracted more than $80 billion in private equity investments in 2018, representing a 60% increase from 2017.

This increase largely stems from companies pursuing mergers and acquisitions (M&As) as a way to grow their businesses. In addition to the large amount of private equity flowing into this sector, there is also a significant amount of funding being raised by venture capital firms. In 2019, almost $700 million has been invested in startups in the alternative protein space, a dramatic increase from just $220 million in 2017.

Beyond Meat and Morning Star

Beyond Meat is the leading producer of plant protein.

The company was started in Southern California in 2009, after the founders watched a sustainability documentary and realized that most of the world’s agricultural systems will not be able to sustain the planet’s population growth. In 2015, Beyond Meat successfully created a meat alternative that tasted and felt like real meat. Since then, the company has expanded from 40 retailers to more than 10,000 retailers.

Beyond Meat has raised $229 million from investors including Tyson Foods, which owns 2.5% of the company as of March 2019. Morning Star produces vegetable proteins from legumes. The products are aimed at both vegans and vegetarians as well as people who want to reduce their intake of meat. The company has been around for 35 years and produces a variety of products including burgers, sausages, and nuggets.

Brands to watch: Halo Foods, Kite Hill, and Quorn.

Halo Foods is a leading brand in the plant-based protein market. The company makes a range of nut-based beverages and milks, including almond, cashew, and coconut. The company also produces hemp seeds, hemp hearts and hemp protein. This is the highest-protein plant protein. Halo products are available in over 10,000 retail outlets across the U.S.

The company was established in 2014 and has raised $52 millions from investors. Kite Hill, a company that is almond-based, produces cultured nuts milks and yogurts. Kite Hill's products are designed for the health-conscious consumer. They are non-GMO and dairy-free and can be made vegan. Parmalat, an Italian food company, purchased Kite Hill in 2018. It is expected that Kite Hill will continue to grow in the future.

Quorn produces meat substitutes from fungi. It is one the oldest companies in this space, and it is available in over 60 countries. It produces a range of meat-free and vegan products including sausages and burgers as well as meatballs.

Pros & Cons: Alternative Protein Industry


1. Increased protein intake: Alternative proteins can help people to increase their protein intake without having to eat as much meat.

2. Reduced environmental impact: The production of alternative proteins generally requires less land, water, and energy than the production of animal-based proteins.

3. Improved animal welfare: Most alternative proteins do not require the killing of animals, which improves animal welfare overall'


1. They’re Not as Good for the Environment as You Might Think: Some alternative protein sources, such as soybeans, require a lot of land and water to grow. And while they don’t produce the same greenhouse gases that animal agriculture does, they still have a large carbon footprint.

2. They May Not Be That Healthy After All: Many alternative proteins are highly processed and contain additives and preservatives. And while they may be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than animal-based proteins, they can be just as high in unhealthy fats like trans fats.

3. They Can Be Allergens: Some people are allergic to soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, or other common ingredients in alternative proteins. If you have an allergy or intolerance to any of these things, you should avoidAlternative Proteins entirely or at least know what you’re getting into before you try them..

4 May Cause Digestive Issues: Alternative Proteins can cause digestive issues like gas and bloating because our bodies aren’t used to digesting them properly