The emerging plant -based meat business is at risk of inflation

10,000 tons per year. This is the amount of plant-based meat that will appear at Happyvore’s new production plant from 2023. It will be the largest in France, according to this startup created almost three years ago (initially under the name The New Farmers ») of two Frenchmen, Guillaume Dubois and Cédric Meston. Located in Cevilly, in Le Loiret, on a 19,000 square meter wasteland agri-food site, it should allow the company increase its production capacity, further innovate and increase the distribution of its products in France “.

How Happyvore wants to be heavyweight with plant-based steaks and sausages

An announcement showing the boom in the market for imitation meat », not only in France but all over the world. In Paris, advertisements of many companies trying to force themselves on the French market flourished in the metro corridors. From Leclerc to Metro, through Carrefour and Casino, most of France’s major distributors have signed partnerships with producers of these plant-based substitutes, which are more similar to meat in taste and texture, to be able to offer on their shelves. Next is catering, with more and more chains showcasing “simulated meats » on their menus.

Investors are attracted by a buoyant market

This effervescence is fueled by more than attractive consumer prospects. In France, driven by consumer health and environmental concerns, the market for plant -based alternatives to animal products as a whole (including beverages, desserts and caterers) grew by 8.7% in supermarkets and supermarkets in 2020, which reached 356 million euros, calculate experts Xerfi Precepta, quoted by LSA. And thethe “simulated meat” market, which represents the largest category in the “catering” segment, recorded a 16% increase over the one -year period between November 2020 and November 2021, according to AFP. At the global level, theBarclays bank estimates that vegetable substitutes will represent 10% of the meat market by 2030, against 1% today, or 140 billion dollars.

These prospects are attracting investors, flocking to French and European startups. The latter competes with the leader in France, Herta, which holds 54% of the market vegetable waiter ». To finance its large factory, Happyvore raised just 35 million euros from the company Artal, advised by investment fund Invus, as well as from Bpifrance, the co-founder of Sushi Shop, Adrien de Schompré, and Philippe Canter. , the former director of Innocent France.

In April, French startup Umiami announced the closing of the € 26.6 million round, led by Astanor Ventures. In particular, it should allow the opening of a factory in France of 15,000 square meters before the end of 2023. In the same month, Barcelona -based Heura collected more than 4 million euros in 12 hours on the participatory platform Crowdcube , to build a new research and development laboratory. And in January, La Vie, another young French shoot, raised 25 million euros to expand marketing of its lardon and bacon vegetables. According to PitchBook, worldwide, $ 2.1 billion will be invested in plant-based meat by 2020.

The challenges of taste and price

For some time now, the multiplication of challenges has slightly blurred the visions, to the point that according to Xerfi Precepta, in France, the market, which is supposed to rise to 400 million euros by 2022, could drop to 394 million euros. 2025. The main challenge for these manufacturers, whose main competitor remains animal meat production, is taste, which still needs to be improved. The second is to achieve this goal while respecting the health and ecological promises of these products: therefore without adding too much sugar, salt, animal fats, GMOs, ultra-processed ingredients.

A report published in April by a panel of independent experts IPES-Food pointed out only the industrial and ultra-processed nature of imitation meat, in addition to underlining the risk that start-ups in the sector, which usually bought with meat. Giants – like Unilever, which owns The Vegetarian Butcher – are strengthening their dominance of food systems ». Not to mention the fierce opposition of animal meat producers, who are stepping up advertising and lobbying campaigns against vegetable meat »that the name they resisted and even tried to ban.

Added to this for a few months now is the challenge of inflation. Due to costs in raw materials and industrial processes, producers of vegetable substitutes are struggling to reduce their prices, which are higher than low- or mid-range meat. Especially since prices inevitably guide consumption more and more. It was also one of the difficulties pointed out by American company Beyond Meat, which, in early May, crashed on Wall Street below its IPO price three years before the publication of disappointing quarterly sales. . Like its competitor Impossible Foods, it had to lower some of its prices.

Commitments to nutrition and the environment

Startups present in the French market are therefore betting on volumes to lower their prices and, from nuggets to chipolatas through merguez sausages and meatballs, are thus constantly expanding their proposals to attract the refractory consumers. A research and development issue that each addresses in its own approach. If Happyvore wanted to achieve the development of alternative vegetables for every type of low-end or mid-range meat, La Vie chose to select new products to be made based on the search for taste excellence. And while Heura wants to make up to 10 new B2C products by 2022, Umiami only sells its vegetable poultry fillet and it only intends to expand its scope on behalf of specialized brands, distributor brands or catering players.

Simplification of ingredients and their local origin is also a major competition issue. All are multiplying promises on this subject. Happyvore, which says it already uses 40% of raw materials made in France, is collaborating with other plant protein players to develop French sectors. La Vie expects to take advantage of the highly processed and poorly rated character from a nutritional point of view of traditional charcuterie, which it proposes to replace. The Swiss startup Planted is committed to using only clean and natural ingredients without any additives in all its products », and Umiami is proud of less than 10 ingredients in its composition (compared to the average thirty in the vegetable meat market) “.