CEFC invests A$5m in plant-based food start-up All G Foods

The Australian government’s clean energy investment agency has continued its push into agriculture, backing alternative proteins start-up All G Foods.

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation has made its latest agriculture investment, a A$5 million ($3.7 million; €3.1 million) commitment to a seed funding round for plant-based food company All G Foods.

All G Foods is based in Sydney and raised a total of A$16 million in the seed round, with other “prominent angel investors” backing the company, according to a statement.

The firm’s first product is 100 percent plant-based burgers from its Love BUDS Meat range and are set to hit supermarket shelves in Australia later in 2021.

All G Foods intends to expand its product range by developing dairy proteins that can be included in milk and other “cow-free” dairy products, as well as plant-based mince, sausages, chicken and bacon alternatives.

The CEFC’s commitment came from its A$200 million Clean Energy Innovation Fund, a vehicle created to invest in early-stage clean technology companies across a range of sectors including food and agriculture.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said in a statement: “Alternative proteins are an important way to reduce food-related emissions because they have a relatively small carbon footprint. With plant-based proteins and proteins from technology like precision fermentation, we can help feed a growing local and global population while putting less pressure on our environment.

“All G Foods is an exciting example of the new and innovative opportunities that will develop as our economy transitions to lower emissions. It’s great to see this Australian company at the forefront of the growing sustainable food production solutions of the future.”

The firm’s other investments in food and agriculture include an A$8 million commitment to Tenacious Venturesinaugural agtech-focused venture capital fund in 2019. This was followed in 2020 by a A$1.7 million investment in the Soil Carbon Company, a start-up that is developing a microbial treatment for seeds with the potential to increase the level of organic carbon in the soil in which they are planted.

It also pledged A$100 million to an agricultural platform managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets in 2018, with a goal of improving on-farm energy efficiency and lowering carbon emissions.

CEFC director Rory Lonergan told Agri Investor in 2020 that the government agency had not set a limit on how much it could invest in agriculture.

“It’s opportunity-driven and we assess [investments] on a case-by-case basis, largely driven by the impact we feel they can have across the sector,” he said.

Lonergan added then that it was in discussions with fund managers about fund commitments and was open to further equity investments in the sector, as has been borne out by its activity since.

“One of the challenges in the sector is that there’s a high degree of fragmentation with lots of farms, in many cases that are maybe sub-scale,” he said. “We’ve focused on trying to play at the more institutional end, because we think if we can get some of the large players to be at the leading edge, it can have a trickle-down effect, or demonstration benefits, to other players.

“We continue to be open to investments in the space that drive real change through the sector. We’re looking for opportunities to drive uptake of technology or farming practices that reduce the emissions intensity per unit of output.”