“We are seeing some tremendous opportunities in wellness” across categories, starting first in cannabis and pharma, and now beginning in the food industry, Patrick Morris, CEO of Eat Global, told FoodNavigator-USA.
He explained that, until now, the food industry has been rife with “so many bad ingredients that have been fed to people in general that have caused widespread health issues.” But, he added, after reaching out to more than 100 companies offering plant-based alternatives to animal products, he sees significant potential in “new products and food alternatives that are coming out that are good for people.”
Early success of plant-based food brands show that their products are not just good for consumers, but they are also good for business -- leading investors with the fund to see significant opportunity in the space, he said.
For example, in the US, sales of plant-based CPG food designed to replace animal-based products have grown 17% in the past year to more than $3.7 billion – significantly outpacing overall US retail food sales, which grew only 2% in the same period. Similarly, the fund notes, by November 2018, plant-based protein shipments from distribution to food service operators increased by 20%.
This same trend is playing out in Canada, where the fund reports 43% of Canadians are actively incorporating plant-based foods in their diets, according to a 2017 Nielsen global survey. Likewise, in Brazil, the schools will serve only vegan meals starting in 2020, it notes.
To capitalize on this trend as well as propel it forward, Morris said the fund is raising $5 million to $7 million Canadian to invest in eight to 10 different opportunities initially.
“Once we get up and running, and the fund is getting more attention and some investments are doing well, we plan to raise another $10 million to $20 million in 2020 and expand outside of Canada into potentially the US exchange or in Europe in the London Stock Exchange,” he said.
Altogether, the Eat Beyond Global fund plans to invest in 10-20 key equity-linked plant-based investments ranging from $1 million to $10 million Canadian in the next four years with a minimum ownership goal of 5%, according to the fund’s investment deck
It will focus predominately on food tech, which will account for approximately 40% of the fund, and plant-based CPG products, which will make up 30% of the fund. Of the remaining, 15% will go to production, 10% to cellular agriculture and 5% to “exploration,” according to the fund.
So far, industry and investment experts with the fund have evaluated over 100 hundred companies and have been impressed by the diversity of products and technology available, Morris said. He added that while the fund has narrowed down the list, it is open to other potential investments before it makes its final decisions.
“At this point we have several that we are interested in … but we are absolutely open to talking to new companies and opportunities,” he said.
To evaluate potential investments, the fund will use an analytical framework, fittingly called PLATE, that stands for price, leadership, awareness, taste and ease.
As the fund continues to evaluate options, it also plans to appear on the Canadian Securities Exchange in the second quarter of 2020.