Demand for alternative proteins is on the rise. In the plant-based space, the Good Food Institute (GFI) estimates that US consumers are spending 28% more on plant-based foods compared to 2017 figures.
Between 2017 and 2019, the plant-based cheese market grew by nearly 51%, and, according to a recent announcement by Big Idea Ventures (BIV), it is not just vegan players that see potential in the space.
Cheese maker Bel Group – which counts BabyBel, The Launching Cow, Boursin, and Kiri amongst its brands – is partnering with BIV to advance the development of alternative proteins via the latter’s New Protein Fund.
Backing seed and early stage start-ups
The New Protein Fund was set up to provide seed and early stage investments in plant-based and cell-based food, ingredient, and technology companies.
According to BIV, Bel Group’s support will help to strengthen the fund’s expertise and capacity for accelerating projects.
“This investment by Bel – based in Paris and a major global player in single serve healthy snacking – will provide the New Protein Fund with more than additional capital,” said Andrew Ive, founder and general managing partner of BIV.
“It is a strategic partnership to continue investment in and supporting of the world’s most promising entrepreneurs who are actively creating the future of alternative proteins in Europe and beyond.”
Bel Group joins Bühler, Tyson Ventures and Tamesek, among others, in funding up to a targeted 100 plant- and cell-based start-ups through the accelerator programmes.
With Bel on board, BIV eyes Paris accelerator programme
BIV currently runs four accelerator programmes per year in New York and Singapore. But with Bel on board, the US-based venture fund says it hopes to open an accelerator in Paris in 2021.
For Bel, backing the New Protein Fund aligns with its commitment to ‘enabling a better balance between plant and animal proteins in food’. The group has already announced plans to roll out plant-based products within the range of its main brands, as well as under a new international brand.
“By identifying and supporting as early as possible the start-ups and projects involved in inventing tomorrow’s food, Bel is demonstrating its desire to make these solutions a reality and make them accessible to all,” said Caroline Smith, general manager of Bel’s Plant-Based Acceleration unit.
“Plant-based products now complement our milk-based offer: consumers are more and more looking for a plant-based offer and we aim to provide them with a quality proposition.”