If the 2000s were the era of startups.com, then without a doubt we can say that the 2020s will be the era of Foodtech. The entrepreneurs of the 2000s thought about what would be the new online service to develop or the new app for the phones. They were young people armed with a laptop and programming skills. Now, the new "startupper" works in a lab and has a background in biotechnology and probably genetics.
We have almost digitized everything on our phones from social media networks to niche apps. This digitization is why big Venture Capital firms are turning their investment strategies toward food. But why food?
Food is one of the biggest businesses in the world, as we all consume it several times a day, but now it faces several challenges. The most relevant challenge is to feed the 9 billion people expected to be in the world by 2050. And within this challenge, the lack of protein will be one of the crucial areas of development. The second challenge is to reduce the impact of food production on the environment.
These challenges are the basis for the current development of alternative proteins, whether vegetable, fermentation, or cultured meat, and all areas related to these products. At the same time, startups that innovate in agriculture, called Agtech, are looking at how to create more and better raw materials to develop these new foods.
The challenge is difficult but very important for everyone. Therefore, investment has been shifting from startup to what is known as Foodtech or Agrifoodtech. In 2021, global investment in Foodtech startups was $51.7 billion, 86% more than 2020 and almost five times more than 2015. There is significant interest from large funds in this business area.
In Europe, there are currently more than 3,500 agri-food startups, as investment in them was €9.5 billion, three times more than €3.1 billion the previous year. In this case, a large part of this investment went to delivery companies, 67%, but overall there were more than 360 operations worth more than €1 million.
Another indicator of the relevance of food tech is the events and exhibitions held around the world on this topic. Almost all of them are in the United States and a few are in the United Kingdom. Luckily next May in the Iberian Peninsula is the return of the Food 4 Future World Foodtech Summit. A three-day event full of content and networking opportunities among the food ecosystem.
This new wave of business development is already a reality and will continue to grow significantly in the coming years. Currently, there are still opportunities for investment and development of new concepts and products. It is crucial not to miss this wave and to watch its evolution. The era of food technology has just begun.