SINGAPORE (May 6): Andrew Ive, founder and managing partner of Big Idea Ventures, thinks alternative meat companies are no longer niche products, reserved for vegans and ethicists. In fact, he reckons these start-ups can be valued like any conventional food company.

“If you look at the minced meat market, these products are mostly unbranded and sold at low-price points,” says Ive, a long-time food investor. But Bill Gates’ Beyond Meat, the vegan start-up gunning for an IPO in the US, crafted a name for itself by selling plant-based ground beef and burger patties in supermarkets. “As a result, the company could sell at a premium in a category that traditionally has been very commoditised,” he says. Beyond Meat’s mince is sold at US$6.49 ($8.83) for 283g at Whole Foods, whereas ordinary ground beef is sold at an average of US$4 for 450g in the US.

Ive is also not surprised that Beyond Meat’s IPO would value the company at 15 times its revenue at around US$1.4 billion. The company is not profitable. “If this were a product only for vegans, that would be a crazy valuation. But I believe plant-based protein companies have crossed the boundaries from a [vegan] product into a normal food company,” he says. As such, he is set on capitalising on the growth of this market. 

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