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Animal Welfare Series: plant-based meat

2019 has been an exciting year for what Bill Gates considers to be the future of food.

Two companies, in particular, stood out. The first, Impossible Foods, a California-based startup, announced partnerships to supply plant-based products to Burger King, Qdoba, and dozens of other restaurants and franchises. Moreover, Impossible Foods closed an additional $300 million in investor funding, which values the operation at $2bn.

The second, the Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat, started selling at restaurants including Del Taco, Subway, and most recently KFC. Beyond Meat was able to pile on market value in what has been called the year’s best first day for a U.S. initial public offering so far. Its stock surged to more than fivefold its IPO price in less than two months after it IP-Oed on the 3rd of May, and is currently valued in excess of $8bn.

New retail sales data suggests this is part of a larger trend. Data from SPINS, summarised by the Good Food Institute, shows that U.S. retail sales of plant-based alternative foods have grown 11 percent in the past year, and 31% over the past two years (Good Food Institute, 2019). By comparison, total U.S. retail food dollar sales grew just 2% over the past year and 4% over the past two years.

In light of recent innovations, some have even gone as far as to predict that, globally, plant-based meat consumption will constitute at least 10% of total meat consumption as soon as by 2025 (AT Kearny, 2019).

In this section of our Animal Welfare series, we ask how the market for plant-based meat in the U.S., China and Europe will scale, and when these markets will mature. We ask, in light of Beyond Meat's meteoric rise, how many companies can follow in its footsteps and achieve a $1bn valuation: