Hong Kong-based Lever VC announces RMB 200M Alternative Protein Fund

Hong Kong-based Lever VC announces RMB 200M Alternative Protein Fund

The Lever China Alternative Protein Fund will also provide an accelerator program run by Brinc

Lever VC, a U.S. and Hong Kong-based alternative protein venture capital fund, has launched an RMB 200 million (approximately US$28 million) joint investment fund and accelerator, to fund Chinese plant-based and cell-cultivated meat and dairy companies, the firm announced in a statement today.

Supported by its Shanghai-based alternative protein consultancy counterpart Lever Foods, the Lever China Alternative Protein Fund will back entrepreneurs and early stage ventures in the space, the statement said.

It added that Chinese state-owned food company COFCO, Chinese dairy products company Yili, China Plant-Based Foods Alliance, will join as corporate partners.

Among others, Swiss flavors and fragrances manufacturer Givaudan, and German industrial food company Cremer, also partnered with the Fund.

The Fund will be investing RMB 40 million in alternative protein companies in Mainland China over the next four years, the statement said, along with a Guangzhou-based three-month rolling accelerator program run by Lever VC-backed venture capital firm and accelerator, Brinc.

Further, portfolio companies can receive follow-on investment from the Fund of up to RMB 160 million, with a total available investment pool of RMB 200 million.

Applications for the Fund as well as the accelerator program are open on a rolling basis.

“With the right backing and support, alternative meat startups can bring forth fundamental and lasting change to our global food system,” Brinc CEO Manav Gupta said in the statement.

He added that Brinc would be extending its 2019-launched meat alternatives foodtech accelerator to “domestic focused founders who will be able to make a difference with localized products in what is bound to be the world’s largest alternative meat market.”

Lever VC Managing Partner Nick Cooney and Partner Lawrence Chu have both been early investors in the alternative protein market, with companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats, and JUST featuring on their portfolios.

The alternative protein and plant-based foods industry is rising in popularity, following a string of wins for many companies in the sector starting with Beyond Meat.

The startup, which went public last year, had one of the best performing initial public offerings (IPO) for a U.S. company in two decades with stocks jumping 163% on listing.

Further, both Memphis Meats and Impossible Foods raised some of the biggest funding rounds in Q1 2020, at $161 million and $500 million respectively.

Moreover, plant-based dairy beverage company Califia Farms and edible food coating producer Apeel Sciences also raised hefty sums this year, with $225 million and $250 million of respective capital inflows.

Sales from the alternative meat market is expected grow 1000x, to touch $140 billion in 10 years. However, this is still just 10% of the US $1.4 trillion global meat industry.

Mock meats are also finding their way into the Southeast Asian markets through fast food chains such as Japan’s Mos Burger and Singapore’s Wolf Burgers.

The surge in veganism and responsible eating can be attributed to the environmental impact of the global meat market, coupled with routine reports of animal cruelty. These have raised major concerns about how food is produced and distributed.

This has led to a growing tide of conscious eaters calling for food production and consumption that is sustainable, responsible and ethical.

Header image by Morning Brew on Unsplash

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