The Present and Future of Food Tech Investment Opportunities
There is no bigger industry on our planet than food and agriculture, with a consistent, loyal customer base of 7 billion. In fact, the World Bank estimates that food and agriculture comprise about 10% of the global GDP, meaning that, food and agriculture would be valued at about $8 trillion globally based on the projected global GDP of $88 trillion for 2019.
On the food front, a record $1.71 trillion was spent on food and beverages in 2018 at grocery stores and other retailers and away-from-home meals and snacks in the United States alone. During the same year, 9.7% of Americans’ disposable personal income was spent on food — 5% at home and 4.7% away from home — a percentage that has remained steady amidst economic changes over the past 20 years.
However, despite a stalwart customer base, the food industry is facing unprecedented challenges in production, demand and regulations stemming from consumer trends. Consumer demands and focus have changed in recent years. An increasing focus by consumers on sustainability, health and freshness has placed significant pressure on the food industry to innovate.
In recent years, agtech innovators have created exciting new ways to harness the power of technology to enhance the world’s food supply. Agtech innovations are protecting crops and maximizing outputs — enabling structural changes in the agriculture system that could achieve important sustainability goals of lowering greenhouse gasses, reducing water use, ending deforestation and potentially even sequestering carbon back into soil.
But this is just the beginning. As everyone needs to eat (multiple times a day!), there remains a huge opportunity for investments in innovative food and beverage technology, or food tech, that better the health of our food ecosystem through novel ingredients and improved diets via better food distribution, preservation and access.
The opportunity to use technology to improve food is massive and extends to improving food usage and decreasing waste — a key to minimizing the environmental impacts of a growing human population. Cognizant of this huge opportunity, venture capitalists are closely tracking this space. According to PitchBook, funding for food tech has skyrocketed from about $60 million in 2008 to more than $1 billion in 2015. And unique investments from VCs and private equity funds have doubled from 223 in 2015 to 459 in 2017, according to CB Insights. In examining total investments made, along with exit activity, food tech has now surpassed agtech on both fronts. This is still relatively small, given the food tech sector’s large potential customer base globally of more than 7 billion people (and growing).
Key drivers of food tech investments…Read more…