Israel Emerges as Global Foodtech Leader, Second Only to U.S.

Israeli startups in alternative protein have raised more money than similar firms in China, Singapore and France, but the success is currently limited to only a handful of companies

Corin Degani
Corin Degani
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Plant-based 3d-printed steak, by food tech startup Redefine Meat.
Plant-based 3d-printed steak, by food tech startup Redefine Meat.Credit: Amir Cohen / REUTERS
Corin Degani
Corin Degani

A new report on the alternative protein sector shows that Israeli food technology has strengthened significantly in the first half of 2022, with several of the companies on track to become global leaders in the field.

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According to the Good Food Institute's Israel report, Israeli startups raised just over 1 billion shekels ($320 million) during the first half of 2022 – a 160% increase from last year — second only to the United States in raising investments in the field.

While the report confirms that Israel maintains its status as a global leader in foodtech, it is worth noting that the large amount was raised mostly by a few especially sizeable companies.

Among the Israeli companies taking an increasingly central role in the global alternative protein industry is Remilk, which uses microbial fermentation to produce non-dairy milk proteins. The company raised $130 million so far and expects to begin building a factory in Denmark, which would be the largest of its kind in the world.

Non-dairy food product by Remilk.Credit: Remilk

The other big winner so far this year, Redefine Meat, had an even bigger round of $135 million, and plans to build a factory in The Netherlands. According to the report, other firms also announced that they have built or plan to build factories in the near future: Peace of Meat, which is set to build a pilot plant in Belgium, and Aleph Farms, which opened a 6,000 square-meter R&D and production facility in the city of Rehovot in central Israel.

U.S. companies, in comparison, raised $857 million during the first half of the year, while China ($120 million), Singapore ($104 million) and France ($96 million) all trailed Israel.

First in plant-based protein

In the plant-based protein field, Israeli firms lead the world in investments at $166 million. That figure represents 22 percent of all investments worldwide, with Redefine Meat accounting for the lion’s share of the investments. Israel is second among fermentation startups with $152 million.

Israeli alternative protein companies raised $623 million in 2021, according to GFI, a 450 percent surge over 2020’s figure of $114 million.

According to the latest report, 70 percent of the investments in alternative protein startups — $431 million — went to startups that are based on research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Hebrew University also leads in the number of startups that have emerged from its research, at eight, with no other academic institute producing more than two. The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is second with $121 million for its two startups, or about 20 percent of such investments.

“This is a young and fascinating industry that in addition to profits provides an opportunity to rectify the global food system, attracting scientists and entrepreneurs from various fields,” said Aviv Oren, director of business engagement and innovation for GFI Israel, in a press release. “Moreover, institutional and government investors are interested in increasing investments in the field. These conditions motivate venture capitalists to recruit funds that specialize in the field,” he added.

According to its website, the Good Food Institute is “an international, science-based non-profit organization, focused on building a sustainable, healthy, and just food system.” GFI Israel “partners with scientific institutions, governmental organizations, and businesses to promote groundbreaking alternative protein research and innovation,” its website states.

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