Jeff Bezos Is Investing $60M in Alternative Meat Research

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Jeff Bezos at the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Karwai Tang/WireImage

The Bezos Earth Fund, a philanthropic organization launched by billionaire Jeff Bezos in 2020, is ramping up its commitment to food system transformations with a $60 million investment in alternative protein.

The funds will establish the Bezos Centers for Sustainable Protein, a series of research centers focused on boosting the quality and nutritional benefits of sustainable protein products. The initiative also aims to enhance the flavor and texture of alternative meat, in addition to bringing down prices—two challenges alternative meat startups have had to overcome. “Their inventions will make plant-based lab-grown meats cheaper, healthier and tastier,” said Lauren Sánchez, Bezos’s fiancée and vice chair of the Bezos Earth Fund, while announcing the investment at the Aspen Ideas climate conference on March 12.

The investment is part of the organization’s $1 billion commitment to food transformation, which has previously seen grants given to projects related to methane emission reductions, the potential of seaweed farming and alternatives to crop-burning, among others. The Bezos Earth Fund additionally supports nature conservation, environmental justice and decarbonization efforts and reports having given a total of $2 billion through more than 230 grants since its founding in 2020. As announced by Bezos during its launch, the organization plans to give out $10 billion by 2030—which would make it the largest-ever philanthropic commitment to fight climate change.

What’s the environmental potential of alternative protein?

The rise of meatless products show promise in reducing the significant environmental impact of our current food systems. Animal agriculture accounts for a fifth of planet-warming emissions, according to the UN Environment Programme. Meat consumption is only expected to grow, with estimates suggesting it could increase by 50 percent in the next 25 years.

But the alternative meat industry has in recent years suffered from inflation and economic instability. In addition to faltering sales, companies have experienced a sharp drawback in investments and funding. High prices don’t help—alternative meat products can cost twice as much as traditional beef and four times as much as chicken. According to a study from the nonprofit Good Food Institute, consumers rank price, followed by taste, as the most important factor encouraging or discouraging the purchase of plant-based products.

This hasn’t deterred Bezos, the second wealthiest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $195.2 billion. The Amazon (AMZN) founder has invested in numerous alternative protein companies, including Nature’s Fynd and Motif, which both also received funding from fellow billionaire Bill Gates. And Bezos is a backer of NotCo, a Chilean plant-based food company that recently partnered up with meat producer Oscar Mayer to release products like NotHogDogs and NotSausages later this year.

The Bezos Centers for Sustainable Protein hope to break through barriers in alternative protein production through advancements in science and technology that will include cell biology and engineering innovations. “We need to feed 10 billion people with healthy, sustainable food throughout this century while protecting our planet,” said Sánchez. “We can do it, and it will require a ton of innovation.”

Jeff Bezos Is Investing $60M in Plant-Based Meat Research

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