Celebrities are investing in the Plant-Based and Sustainability Space

Kory

It’s not just seasoned investors that realize the growth potential of the plant-based and sustainability space—more celebrities are getting in on the action as well.

The question is, why? 

The average consumer’s decision-making process today is much more nuanced compared to a decade or even five years ago. They’re not just looking at quality and price anymore, but also the company and its values.

Consumers are paying attention to:

  • Sustainability: Is your company working towards any sustainability goals? Are you looking to reduce waste output during manufacturing? Is sustainability a core part of a company’s messaging? Has a product been “greenwashed” or do you back up your claims of being sustainable?
  • Social causes: More customers want to support companies that align with their own values. It’s not just about being environmentally friendly, but supporting other social causes as well, like gender and racial equality.

When I read about investments, one of the common themes I see is the unique story behind a brand. In most cases, startups have been able to align their values and mission with their products.

Here’s a quick recap of some investments and product launches that caught my attention over the past few months.

Vegan hair care that is also sustainable

Vegan food and beverages take up a large portion of the spotlight, but let’s not forget that there are vegan alternatives in other industries as well. The personal care industry covers a wide range of segments from make-up and skincare to hygiene products like hair care and grooming.

If you’re a fan of the reality TV show Queer Eye, you probably heard that one of the stylists, Jonathan Van Ness, is launching his own line of vegan hair care products. It’s called JVN Hair, and it is a sustainable product that is an inclusive option for all hair types.

A lot of hair products contain silicone and squalene—ingredients that help make your hair soft and shiny. What not many people know is that these ingredients are commonly derived from animal sources, such as shark liver. Partnering with biotech company Amyris, JVN Hair products use hemisqualane instead, which is a vegan alternative.

Investing in plant-based companies

While other segments of the plant-based and sustainability space are quickly growing, food and beverages are still one of the dominant players in the larger plant-based industry.

Another project that caught my eye was rapper Jay-Z and NBA player Chris Paul’s investments in Misha’s Kind Foods, an LA company producing dairy-free cheese. Understanding that everyone has different dietary needs, one of their core values is to reflect this diversity in their products. It’s not just folks who are vegan that buy vegan food—it’s also flexitarians who want to cut back on consuming animal products, those who are lactose intolerant, and people who are following certain diets, like paleo.

Speaking about the company’s mission, co-founder and CEO Aaron Bullock said, “Everything we make is kind to your body, kind to the planet, and kind to your wallet.” This is the type of messaging and mission that more customers are gravitating towards.

One interesting thing to note is that this wasn’t Jay-Z’s first investment in the plant-based space. His venture capital fund also invested in Impossible FoodsPartake Foods, and SIMULATE.

Jayz

Building a more sustainable food system

Have you heard of the Plant Based Treaty?

It’s an organization that’s fighting to make food systems more environmentally friendly. Plant Based Treaty emphasizes how the traditional practices of animal agriculture have been devastating to the environment, and wants to promote a shift towards more sustainable practices and diets. Recently, U.S. musician Moby expressed his support for the initiative, drawing links between climate change and meat and dairy production.

Increased knowledge about carbon emissions from animal agriculture has become one of the main reasons why more people are switching to plant-based products. Speaking with both investors and plant-based company owners, and analyzing statistics from our own shopvejii.com site, we’re seeing a shift in our audiences from primarily vegan consumers years ago to a more diverse consumer base today.

Given that plant-based products are much more accessible than they have ever been, more people are trying products like plant-based sports nutrition or plant-based vitamins and supplements.

Growth in the plant-based industry isn’t slowing down anytime soon

For investors looking for entry points into the plant-based industry space, here are some pointers:

  • Think outside the box: New companies producing plant-based food will always be a major draw for investors, but consider other segments as well. I believe markets like skincare, accessories (using plant-based leather), and clothing may experience high growth over the next few years as consumer habits continue to shift and the science around creating sustainable ingredients and materials improves.
  • Think about platforms: Some investors may be pigeonholing themselves into investing only in certain types of companies, like food producers. This isn’t necessarily a drawback, but there are other players in the plant-based industry that operate on the logistical side: online marketplaces that connect plant-based products to consumers, B2B shipping companies built on providing sustainable deliveries, and so on.
  • Think about your connections: For investors new to the space, don’t be afraid to reach out and start a conversation, whether that’s with another investor in the space or even the CEO of a plant-based company. One thing I’ve learned about this community is that we’re a passionate group of people and are more than happy to talk about making plant-based living more accessible to everyone!
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