Food Investing Outlook Panel
May 09. 2022
Foodtech is Moving at a Breakneck Pace
There has been a substantial shift in food consumption and eating behaviors, especially in light of recent concerns about sanitation and healthcare safety, influencing current and future food-tech businesses. Family offices are increasingly focusing on tech and digital solutions in their business domains following the pandemic, including biotech, healthtech, consumer tech, foodtech, and others.
The Future of FoodTech From the Perspective of Family Offices
Food technology is not a new concept, but it has gained popularity in recent years as more companies pop up worldwide. Food and agriculture make for around 10% of global GDP, according to the World Bank. Based on a forecasted global GDP of $88 trillion in 2019, food and agriculture would be worth around $8 trillion globally.
As a result, a mix of new and existing specialized FoodTech VCs, increased interest from traditional Ventures, early checks from Accelerator/VC hybrids, and new forms, including investment syndicates and rolling funds, propelled FoodTech-focused fundraising forward. As per PitchBook data, the global food-tech industry garnered $40 billion in venture financing across 1,358 deals in 2021, representing a substantial increase in deal value over the previous year. The report’s top businesses – online grocery shopping, robotics, and alternative proteins — are anticipated to develop even faster in 2022.
For this article, we obtained invaluable insights from Gil Horsky, Senior Director at SnackFutures, Mondelez International, Jennifer Cheng Lo, Co-Founder & Chair of her single Family Office NewChic Capital, who shared their thoughts during a MarketCurrents virtual event on the various aspects of The Foodtech Industry on April 21. At the event, Sasha Bernier of Cheltenham Investments Single Family Office in New York was the moderator.
Motivations and Expectations of Consumer
Over the last decade, there has been a transformation in consumer preferences for food, with more and more people choosing clear labeling, wholesomeness, functional, health-promoting ingredients, and planetary health for long-term sustainability. These are alternative protein sources, regional cuisines, nutraceuticals, and personalized nutrition. Due to environmental concerns, foodtech companies and brands are adopting waste reduction technologies and zero-waste procedures. These have been taken to new heights. In addition, the retail sector in the food- tech industry has fundamentally transformed, making it possible for many smaller entrepreneurial firms to find channels to expand their operations.
A question posed by Sasha Bernier: Is the Food-tech Industry Meeting Consumer Expectations? According to Gil Horsky, Senior Director at SnackFutures, Mondelez International the sector has only partially met customer expectations. The major food and consumer packaged goods industries are collaborating with municipalities to create a recycling infrastructure.
Health Concerns and Technological Aspects of Sugar and Alternative Meat Products
We’ve progressed from foodtech 1.0 to foodtech 2.0. The sustainable Food System of the future is regenerative, ethical, efficient, and engaging. However, the majority of food-tech advancements are relatively costly. Furthermore, the majority of protein supplements include a long list of constituents. These products need to be healthier now, with fewer and well-known components. This is a problem that food-tech 2.0 will have to tackle.
Bernier was curious about their opinions on sugar, salts, and alternative meats. Interestingly, Horsky stated that by eliminating animals from the food equation, we have stepped into 2.0 from an ethical standpoint. He also added, “Sugar is the devil that nobody has cracked 100%.” Sugar has a distinct flavor, and it isn’t easy to find a substitute that tastes as good. It is the cheapest filler available. He came to the conclusion that there is no other solution to the sugar issue.
Role of Technology in Global Food Security
The food business is extremely vulnerable, as Covid-19 proved. It drew attention to the issue of food security. Following that, the Ukraine War aggravated the issue. Technology has been crucial in supporting the food industry in adjusting to changing times and addressing the growing need for better, more sustainable food options. Another noteworthy topic raised by Bernier was, “What Role Does Technology Play in Global Food Security?”
Horsky, said effective harvest and post-harvest practices to reduce food loss; effective storage and conservation practises to increase the value of harvested products; identification of high value added products to increase economic gains for processors and ensure long shelf-life; and enhanced marketing of available foodstuffs at competitive prices, all based on effective government policies, are examples of how technology may help with economic development and social well-being.
Climate Change’s Impact On Food Innovation Technologies
The impact of climate change on agriculture, particularly in relation to food production, varies with respect to time and geography, with the majority of these effects being varied and notably unclear. Without a doubt, incorporating food innovation technology (FIT) into agricultural operations is a critical component of operational and objective climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Jennifer Cheng Lo expressed her anxiety, citing all of the global uncertainties, and advised farmers to grow more than required.Cheng- Lo added, “In Southeast Asia, the government is directly addressing farmers, avoiding intermediaries who take a large portion of the profit from the farmers’ goods.” She also mentioned Climate X, a company that delivers next-generation climate data and analytics. Climate X Spectra is the company’s latest innovation. The system can assess a location’s risk for decades into the future, allowing decision-makers to take the necessary precautions to preserve cities and people.
Factors Investors should Examine Before Making a Food-tech Investment?
The food sector is vast and attracts significant business people. Some subsectors are large, while others are difficult to start a new enterprise. The investor should be well-versed in the industry. Investors should also consider time and revenue, as certain innovations take years to develop.
Horsky stated that the food-tech industry is becoming saturated due to its popularity and that investors should seek other new sectors to invest in startups with less competition. He also added that investors should consider using technology to its core to boost efficiency and sustainability in all aspects. Foodtech companies may improve productivity and sustainability in food production, assembly, distribution, and consumption by using Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data .
Cheng Lo pointed out that everyone is focused on creating systems that work, sustainable packaging, and delicious and healthy food.
Food startups are flourishing in Asia and Israel
Israel is home to a rapidly expanding food technology echo-system. The food-tech scene in Israel is part of the country’s great start-up environment. Sustainable consumption, investment, and government-backed inventions are the primary drivers. Cell agriculture, which combines dairy and cultured meat components with animal and plant-based protein products and innovative plant-based protein production methods, such as innovative technology that mimics the texture and flavour of meat, are examples of the protein alternatives industry, in which Israel is a prominent leader. In addition, the regional experts have identified India, China, and the United Arab Emirates as hotspots for food-tech and ag-tech investment.
Sasha Bernier addressed the question as to what Israel is doing which the world can do? Horsky stated that Israel’s desert covers more than a third of the country and was established in 1948. The people began farming. As we all know, the best catalysts of invention are necessities and obstacles. People discovered drip irrigation as a solution for irrigation.
Implementing these technologies can place you in a strong position and provide you with a competitive advantage over your competitors. The days of businesses relying on outdated marketing and trade tactics are long gone. Almost every company nowadays uses cutting-edge technologies to carry out its marketing campaigns.