Nicole Junkermann on investing in the future of plant-based alternatives

Over the past decade, interest in and consumption of plant-based foods has boomed. We live in an increasingly sustainable and health conscious era, where consumers are rethinking what they buy, wear and eat, and where it comes from.

As a result, the plant-based substitute market has expanded dramatically. This trend has been somewhat accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the fact that the production of artificial meat is more automated, less labour dependent and, resultingly, less vulnerable to shortages in staff and price fluctuations.  The US alone saw a 200% increase in sales of plant-based meat substitutes in the week ending April 18, compared with a 30% increase over the same period for fresh meat, as reported by consumer data group Nielsen.

According to a study by Polaris Market Research, the global plant-based meat market size is expected to reach USD 35.4 billion by 2027. It is widely reported that the largest consumer trend leading to the explosion of this sector is changes to mainstream diets with more people becoming ‘flexitarian’, vegetarian and vegan.

There are a number of reasons why consumers are changing their diets. The first is animal welfare and ethical concerns associated with the meat and dairy industry. The second is environmental concerns. Governments and business leaders are slowly awakening to the climatic and environmental effects of the meat industry and pursuing policies to ameliorate its impact. The final reason is the health concerns associated with a meat heavy diet. Many plant-based alternatives have a high nutritional value and long-term epidemiologic studies have shown that replacing red meat with nuts, legumes and other plant-based protein foods is associated with lower risks of many chronic diseases and total mortality. In addition to this the pandemic has caused society to question the link between public health, meat consumption and the need for sustainable alternatives.

According to a Deloitte report on plant-based alternatives, “The UK is one of the markets leading the way in plant-based products. It is the largest market in Europe for consumption of plant-based alternatives, accounting for around 40 per cent of the European meat substitutes market”. In the US, the pandemic has caused some of the biggest meat producers to shut down their operations. New SPINS retail sales data released March 3, 2020, shows that “sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal products have grown 29% in the past two years to $5 billion”.

As an active investor, it’s important to spot trends early. The combination of a growth in consumers looking to eat plant-based foods and the rapid innovation of new products make this sector, in my view, a particularly attractive investment. This is one of the reasons I decided to invest in ALOHA, a company that offers plant-based protein products.

Introducing ALOHA

Founded in 2013 by three long-time Hawaii residents, ALOHA is an employee-owned and operated company committed to making the healthiest, best-tasting plant-based protein products on the planet. ALOHA’s product portfolio includes protein bars, drinks and powders that taste as good as they are for you, proving you don’t have to sacrifice taste for nutrition. All ALOHA products are sustainably sourced and thoughtfully packaged with deep respect for both people and the environment.

Brad Charron, ALOHA’s CEO said, “At ALOHA we believe you don’t have to sacrifice taste for nutrition and that healthy, great-tasting food should be widely accessible”.

It is clear that there is a growing investment in a meatless future. I am excited to see how this sector develops with so many innovative products yet to hit the market. There have been monumental changes in recent times to the dietary habits of millennials and Generation Z, and it is clear that this new plant-based boom is not a fad, but is likely to keep its newfound place in the mainstream.

Nicole Junkermann

Nicole Junkermann

Nicole Junkermann is an international entrepreneur and investor, and the founder of NJF Holdings, an international investment company with interests in venture capital, private equity, and real estate. Through NJF’s venture capital arm (NJF Capital), Nicole oversees a portfolio similar in size to a small venture fund across Europe and the US, including in healthcare, fintech, and deep tech.

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