In 2021, food sales were booming and funding for private startups was freely flowing.
Fundraising records in food and beverage have been repeatedly shattered as the year has gone on. As of Dec. 23, there were 13 individual funding rounds in 2021 alone where a food company received $100 million or more.
Alternative protein and food tech companies garnered the biggest investment rounds. Impossible Foods led the pack with the biggest single round thus far, closing its second blockbuster $500 million funding round in two years. Eat Just saw two huge funding rounds — $200 million for the whole company in March and a total of $267 million for its cell-based Good Meat subsidiary announced in May and September.
Eat Just's $267 million held the record for the largest-ever single round for a company in the cultivated meat space until December, when Future Meat Technologies announced it had raised $347 million.
Johnny Ream, a partner at Stray Dog Capital, said on a panel at the Good Food Conference in September that there are many indicators driving the investments into alternative proteins. Steady growth in market share for plant-based meat products show investors that the appetite for the segment is growing. And as cell-based meat companies hit developmental milestones — building plants, reducing cost, growing larger pieces of meat — there's reason to show that more funds will be used to help them reach the goal of having products to sell.
But even though investments are growing in this sector, Ream said at the conference that the sector isn't getting the attention it needs when compared to other industries.
"Comparatively speaking, funding in alternative proteins is seeing less than 1% of the funding levels that are present in renewable energy and energy transition," Ream said. "And what this shows us is that despite the growth to date, we believe there is significantly more capacity for innovation in alternative proteins to accelerate development."
Alternative proteins aren't the only area seeing huge funding rounds, however. Bowery, a vertical farming company, had a $300 million investment round — the year's fifth biggest. Nick's, a Sweden-based company making better-for-you ice cream and snacks, closed a $100 million funding round in October.
As the year draws to a close, here are 10 of 2021's largest funding rounds in the food industry.