Multi-million-euro fund set to invest in companies with a lower carbon footprint and reduced greenhouse gas

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/PM Images
Image: Getty/PM Images

Related tags Investment alternative proteins

London-based Milltrust Ventures and Ireland’s Earth First Food Ventures have launched a new £242 (EUR270) million investment fund targeting sustainable alternatives to meat proteins.

The Smart Protein Fund will invest in alternative proteins, seeking to combine Milltrust’s experience in sustainability investment with EFFV’s knowledge of the alternative protein sector.

EFFV is a specialist food tech venture capital platform with a presence in Switzerland, US, India, Brazil, and Greece, focused on ESG/impact investing in food technologies, plant-based, fermentation and cultivated proteins.

The two companies said they will seek to disrupt the world's largest industry - food - by channelling climate capital towards scaling smart protein companies for ‘a cleaner, healthier end-product, produced locally for local consumption’.

According to Milltrust, an investment house with an Asian and European footprint which manages $500 million in emerging markets equities and about $100 million in venture -- agriculture and related sectors are holding a big promise.

Milltrust said it is seeking to address some of the greatest themes of our generation including the development of emerging economies, rising food demand, technological revolutions and climate change.

Milltrust said the fund aims to build on its first investment in alternative protein in 2016, when it provided seed capital and helped found Roslin Technologies, an Edinburgh-based food and ag tech company focused on disruptive biotechnologies with core capabilities in developing and commercialising research in the nascent global cultivated meat industry.

Milltrust’s most recent capital injection was into Green Bioactives which makes products derived from plant cell cultures - or bioactives – for food production.

The new portfolio’s companies will have a significantly lower carbon footprint and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, whilst at the same time providing attractive returns in a fast-growing industry driven by innovative technologies. The Smart Protein Fund will invest in the leading alternative protein companies of tomorrow focused on plant-based proteins, cultivated meat, and fermentation technologies, as well as the infrastructure that will help scale this growing industry.

Milltrust International Group CEO Simon Hopkins said: “Few sectors offer the growth opportunity of a total disruption of the human food chain, as we seek to address the rapidly growing demand for a protein based diet across the globe, coupled with the need to scale in a way that doesn’t deplete the Earth’s finite resources”.

“We are delighted to build on our successful investment in Roslin Technologies, which will set the course for the types of investments we have identified for our new Smart Protein Fund in partnership with Earth Food First Ventures. Timing is everything and investments in this growing industry are being repriced as commercial viability becomes a reality. Its continued acceleration, moving from R&D to growth at scale, will allow us to produce healthier, lower impact proteins in line with accelerating demand.”

There are many challenges in the plant-based proteins, cultivated meat, and fermentation technologies sectors. As well as scale, price and imperfection, plant-proteins are often accused of not being up to scratch in terms of taste and texture and are often associated with long ingredients lists and high levels of processing. Cultivated meat is not yet approved in Europe and we don’t know what consumers will make of it.

However, Brian Ruszczyk, CEO of Earth First Food Ventures, said, the ‘benefits of alternative proteins are clear’. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Milltrust International for the launch of the Smart Protein Fund, following the firm’s decade of investing in sustainability across their portfolios—healthier diets, lower carbon emissions, and fewer concerns about the ethics of intensive animal farming. By 2035, alternative proteins will very likely capture 11% of the global protein market through organic growth, as consumers, companies, and investors push the values of ESG and parity. And we predict the market for alternatives to meat, especially chicken and seafood, could increase significantly higher still, rising from 2% of total protein consumption in 2020 to more than 20% by 2035, with government support which we are beginning to see today."



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