I’ve said it before… two big things need to change for us to have any hope of feeding our growing population for the next 30+ years. Firstly, consumers need to rethink their daily choices, and producers/businesses need to reimagine the food system. The great news is that this change is unfolding right before our eyes.
Consumers are shifting away from meat and dairy and embracing alternative proteins made from plants. On the other hand, a whole new conscious food economy is rising, consisting of companies that are working to disrupt our food system dominated by industrial animal agriculture by offering healthier, more sustainable foods.
This new plant-based food industry (currently valued at a $3.5 billion) just launched its own trade association, and even the meat industry is finally sitting up and taking notice of the rising trend of vegan food and protein alternatives and looking to enter the space.
If that wasn’t enough, the industry just received another powerful boost with the launch of a new non-profit organization called The Good Food Institute (GFI) and a new $25 million venture capital fund, New Crop Capital, that’s seeking to disrupt animal agriculture.
As Bruce Friedrich, Executive Director of GFI, explained in a press release “We are committed to driving the future of food. Consumers choose what to eat on the basis of taste, convenience, and price. That’s where The Good Food Institute and New Crop Capital come in. Both are laser-focused on creating clean plant and culture based alternatives to animal products that taste great, are available everywhere, and that are cost competitive with conventional animal products. Through market competition and food technology, we are speeding the global transition away from farming animals and toward much cleaner and better plant and culture-based meat, dairy, and eggs.”
I met with Bruce recently and we both shared a mutual enthusiasm for how things are shaping up in the food space. We’re undoubtedly at an exciting point in history where concrete steps are finally being taken to focus on solutions that have the power to shape the future of food. With Bruce at the helm of GFI, I have no doubt that he will use his extensive activism and policy background (Bruce previously worked at Farm Sanctuary and PETA), to help pave the way for a more sustainable, healthy, and humane food system.
Bruce is also the founding partner of New Crop Capital, which announced a slew of investments in vegan, plant-based and culture-based food companies like Memphis Meats, Lighter, The Purple Carrot, Lyrical Foods, Gelzen, Beyond Meat, Sunfed Foods, and Miyoko’s Kitchen. New Crop is in good company, because the opportunity evident in this emerging food space has also caught the attention of many of today’s most forward-thinking investors. Firms like Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates’ Gates Ventures, SOSventures, and Horizons Investors are investing millions in companies that are creating innovative products that make animal agriculture obsolete.
Consumer demand for alternative meat and dairy is on the rise with no signs of slowing down. Non-dairy milk sales are up 30 percent since 2011, representing a $2 billion category, and growth is expected to continue outpacing dairy milk sales at least through 2018. Additionally, the meat alternative market is projected to hit a $5.2 billion worth by 2020. There’s never been a better time to invest in this future.
The times they are indeed a-changin’! But change is never easy, especially when it comes to our food choices. It involves shedding old habits – ones that feel routine, predictable, and hence comfortable. But once change unfolds in a way that it is starting to in this space, it quickly transforms from a slow moving object to an unstoppable force. In this case, a force that can not only feed our population as it grows to nine billion by 2050, but also do it in a manner that uses less of our planet’s finite resources, drastically cuts down our carbon footprint and gives thousands of species a fighting chance for survival.
By supporting the rising conscious food economy we can help transform our food system from an inefficient, unjust, and unsustainable one into a catalyst for good. It’s the kind of change we should all embrace with open arms.
Lead image source: Tempeh Picatta