FoodTech can be defined as an industry where food and technology intersect to create new products, services, and business models. The world is facing many challenges. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2050, the global population will reach 9.8 billion with a 60% increase in food demand compared to today. Simultaneously, the availability of arable land will decrease due to various factors such as climate change or urbanization. Therefore, the threat of a global food and environmental crisis encourages industry players to grow more with less.

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In response to these multiples challenges, the food tech industry seems to bring an answer. According to DigitalFoodLab, Europe experiences a 20% yearly increase in the number of new food tech start-ups since 2014. As a result, there are now more than 1360 active food tech start-ups.

Thanks to powerful tech enablers, the Food Tech industry has an impact on the whole traditional food value chain, ranging from the farming stage to the industrial transformation of the raw material and the delivery of the final product, as shown in the previous table.

Farming Tech

Food tech companies intervene in the upstream supply chain: the farming stage. For instance, improvement of biochemicals through seeding and fertilizer technologies but also real-time monitoring of crops and implementation of innovative urban farming methods (see the picture) allow for increased efficiency and sustainability of crop harvesting.

More specifically, seed multiplication could enable developing countries to ensure food security. In Africa, such a solution could indeed overcome the challenges in terms of water and land resources, as explained by the African Plant Breeders Association.

Regarding the real-time crop monitoring, the Israeli-based start-up Skyx has specialized in agricultural drone technology that detects the presence of pests and automatically sprays pesticides on the farmland. Skyx uses historical data of the land, real-time data collection, and post-flight data analysis. Even though this technology does not seem very sustainable due to the use of pesticides, it allows a 70% reduction in pesticide use and a 50% decrease in operating costs nonetheless.

Industrial Tech

Other Food Tech start-ups also have an impact on the industrialization phase of the supply chain. Environment-friendly products and packaging (see the picture) methods are being developed in response to new ethical and environmental concerns. Indeed, according to Tastewise, an AI-powered platform that predicts food trends, since 2018, 23% more consumers are prioritizing sustainability in their diets in the United-States.
Additionally, new customer expectations in terms of product transparency are creating a new market demand for product quality tracking. This opens up new opportunities for tech companies to offer blockchain-based tools to traditional food industry players.

Created in 2016, Connecting Food is a start-up aiming at increasing the traceability of products in the food industry by using a blockchain technology. Connecting Food primarily works with producers, manufacturers, and retailers located in France and operates on the supply chain of animal-based products. By auditing in real-time every product at each step of the supply chain through data collection, Connecting Food establishes full transparency between the actors of the supply chain. Food audits are quite rare in the industry; however, they are crucial as they ensure that quality standards are met. For producers meeting those standards, an automatic financial reward system is set up with a smart contract stored through blockchain technology.

Consumer Tech

Finally, Food Tech companies have a direct impact at the consumer level. This last step of the supply chain usually gets the most media attention, and you probably know a lot of examples.
Customers now want to control their consumption, which they can do through consumer coaching. Thanks to Vitagene’s DNA-based solution, the consumer is, for instance, able to subscribe to a personalized supplement plan, get tailored food suggestions, and lifestyle recommendations.
Meal delivery is now the most important part of the food tech industry. Indeed, according to DigitalFoodLab, between 2014 and 2018, 60% of the venture capital investments in the European food tech were concentrated solely on the three leading start-ups in the meal delivery market, Deliveroo (UK) and Delivery Hero (Germany) and Hello Fresh (Germany).

If you want to have a look at the other companies I mentioned in the article, here are a few of them: