The FoodTech industry is booming right now, and with new advances every year, we are excited to see what great ideas come to fruition. What is the reason behind this sudden surge in FoodTech companies, you may ask? The demand for sustainable food has risen along with the number of people on this Earth, this leading to the inevitable need for more food that doesn't cause a strain on the environment.
In 2019 the global FoodTech Market was worth USD 220.32 Billion and is projected to reach USD 342.52 Billion by 2027, a whopping 55.46% increase in just eight years! Keep reading for some aspects to consider, and read about two sub-sectors of the FoodTech industry that carry a lot of weight in terms of making the food industry more sustainable and decreasing emission.
Sustainable Food Replacements
There are a few small steps we as individuals can take to make the world a better place. Without a sustainable food source, the world is heading towards a beyond repair state. One option is reducing the intake of certain foods and being pickier about what we choose to buy. But there are also FoodTech startups making massive progress in making the situation more bearable.
There are numerous angles that these startups have been taking from creating plant-based meats a great example being The Mighty Kitchen which “Makes Chick*n Without The Bird". Also, Meatable is using proprietary stem cell technology to synthetically grow real meat. Why go through all this hassle to eat meat when you can purchase meat that's been grown naturally/organically for probably half the price? The truth is that production costs are drastically falling as we learn more about producing sustainable alternatives.
The question is, is it worth it? Do we need to deviate from our old ways for the world to be impacted in a positive way? Research has found that it takes 1,799 gallons of water to traditionally produce 1 pound of beef, which is a very large amount. But if we take into consideration that cattle get water from the grass they graze upon and that 94% of water allocated to beef production is natural rainwaste (source: Sacred Cow), is it as inconvenient as people make it seem?
There is no doubt that the significant advances made in FoodTech are steering the world onto a better path. But even if the technology is available, does it have any purpose if the price point for more sustainable products is higher than the average person can afford? Especially when meat replacements can be easily made at home using common household ingredients such as mushrooms and soy.
Over the past decade, there has been a steep rise in people consuming plant-based products with sales growing 27% in 2020 and 57% of all U.S. households buying plant-based foods! The need for products such as milk substitutes has also seen an increase, with major companies such as cafes providing plant-based options. According to Good Food Institute, plant-based milk now takes up 15% of all sales of retail milk.
The benefits are not only health-related. Plant-based alternatives also play a big part in helping the environment flourish and keep growing. If more people started eating these alternatives, the food industries would see a decline in their carbon footprint.
Food Waste, and why utilizing wasted food is great
We can all agree that there is an excess of food waste (approximately 1.4 Billion pounds of food every single year). Luckily FoodTech companies are doing everything to change that by repurposing the waste into a snack or even using bread scraps to make beer such as Zero Bullsh*t snacks and Toast Beer.
Not only can we create more food/drink from our food waste, but we can also create energy! Which would be a sustainable byproduct from the food we already consume, which is a win/win. A great example of this is a company called Bio-Bean that creates pellets from coffee grounds that can be used to heat houses. Apart from being more environmentally sustainable, this practice also helps large companies save money by selling "waste" that they would usually dump as it is not a key ingredient that they would use, as well as creating income for other businesses that are paid for the handling and disposing of it.
The importance of utilizing wasted food is great because according to Worldvision wasted food could feed up to 2 Billion people each and every year (bear in mind there are around 800 million people that are undernourished). This means there is more than enough to both use for nourishment and creating sustainable energy. If we consider all the energy that goes into producing, harvesting, packaging and delivering all of the food that becomes wasted we find out that we have generated over 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (in accordance to National Geographic) which is a little under half of what all the vehicles that use fossil fuels produce per year.
FoodTech Industry overall
Overall the industry itself has been doing well, with an increase in people investing in FoodTech companies that show potential. Numerous companies had successful funding rounds, such as the cellular meat company Future Meat Technologies which ended up raising 347 million USD in their Series B round, Infarm which raised 200 million USD in their Series D, and even Smallhold that raised 25 million USD in their Series A.
Although the FoodTech industry has had a lot of money invested in its sectors, according to AFN, exits have been quite scarce. But even though exits have been lagging behind there is still great room for growth with many evolving ideas.
All in all, growth seems imminent as technology advances and the future for FoodTech appears brighter than ever. However, there are still challenges to tackle, so the work will not be ending soon. But that's ok - that's how the world works and improves.