Looking Forward: The top 3 FoodTech Trends to Spot in 2020

Lesley Stonier
Dec 10, 2019 · 5 min read

Working in the FoodTech industry never gets old. It seems that with every minute that goes by, something new is brewing and innovations at the intersection of food, tech and sustainability are popping up everywhere like mushrooms. It’s hard to keep up, we know!

So, here’s our snapshot of the top 3 trends that we think you’ll be seeing a lot more of in 2020 from both FoodTech entrepreneurs and big food corporations alike:

1. Reinventing Protein: from plant-based to insect alternatives

A number of FoodTech startups have made it their mission to find new ways of sourcing protein. This is not surprising at a time where plant-based technologies are maturing and flexitarian diets are gaining popularity among consumers and major meat companies (e.g Tyson Foods, Smithfield, Perdue).

A big player in this field is Beyond Meat, who produces a number of meat alternatives made with 100% plant-based ingredients. They have just gone through the biggest IPO of 2019 and will only keep growing in the months to come (stock prices grew 645% at its session high). The meat mimicking industry is also aiming to achieve scalability and price parity as fast as possible through the emergence of B2B models. Some companies to keep an eye out for are Rebellyous Foods or Nova Meat.

Great things are also happening with insect-based proteins, particularly on the B2B side, where companies are collaborating to produce animal-feed and pet food. Take Ynsect, for example, which breeds, you guessed it, insects at a large scale and then turns them into high quality raw materials. Ynsect raised $125M (source: Foodtech Data Navigator) in their latest funding round at the beginning of the year. Or Entocycle, which so far has raised $2.4M (source: Crunchbase), uses black soldier flies to turn food waste into a natural and sustainable source of protein. In the US, the insect-based space is consolidating with brands like Exo been acquired by larger-scale producers like Aspire.

The consumer side of the industry is also getting some traction. Just this summer, an insect-based brand called Eat Grub struck at deal to hit the shelves of major food retailers like Lidl in Germany and Sainsbury’s in the UK, however most insect-based products are yet to be validated.

Forward Fooding insight: Alternative protein is here to stay. Watch out for even more ways to add alternative protein to your diet with new startups continuing to focus on this major FoodTech growth trend.

Companies in the alternative protein industry receive a 269% increase in funding between 2016 and 2018. This can be seen through a screenshot from our Food Data Navigator showing the evolution of raised capital by 238 companies. Total amount invested between 2009 and 2018 is estimated at €1.8B.

2. ‘Farming and Big Data’: Minimising risks and optimising crops

Farming and technology? That can’t be right. The emergence of FarmTech solutions (farmer-native) specifically designed to best perform on the fields, for example a crop hopper vs a flying drone, are not only a driving force in the industry but are also being very readily adopted by farmers.

More and more Agri-Tech companies are leveraging Farming as a Service (FAAS) models, meaning they are integrating automated machinery with prediction software. Smart Farming is moving from simply reacting and more towards anticipating, as data collected on the fields is becoming more specific, more precise, and able to predict trends, while being integrated with business processes and machinery for automation.

The industry shows great potential, with non-traditional entrants moving into the sector through partnerships and as potential acquirers. Many of these are technology giants targeting core competencies, such as Amazon’s investment in Plenty, a vertical farming company, and Google Ventures’ investment in the Farmers Business Network.

A screenshot from our Food Data Navigator showing the evolution of the capital raised by companies working with farming technologies. Data is shown in millions of euros.

Forward Fooding insight: AI is a big growth trend within AgriTech, as is the fast paced evolution and development of new FAAS models. We see big name corporates and tech businesses (like Google or Amazon) making their first forays into Agritech, so watch this space as we see big potential.

3. Waste Reduction: Upcycling food and waste management technology

More and more companies are making something out of nothing, in other words, using ‘food surplus’ and turning it into consumable products (eg. Toast, Snact, Rubies in the rubble).

These businesses are seeing huge successes with their upcycling models as the climate crisis helps them build a great brand narrative. So much so, that upcycled & rescued ingredients are even becoming trend-items as the food waste issue reaches the spotlight (eg. Regrained received investments from Barilla, ToastAle is expanding in the US.)

Packaging made of biodegradable materials is going ‘mainstream’, meaning that startups can now afford it (eg. Huug) while large manufacturers are also following suit and making the switch (eg. Nestle with Yes). Tech solutions, primarily those that leverage AI, are also doing their part in helping different players in the value chain, for example retailers, to better manage stock levels and thus cut down on their food waste.

Investment in waste-reduction technologies is on a steady rise. This screenshot from our Food Data Navigator shows the increase of raised capital by companies creating waste-solutions between 2012 and 2018.

A screenshot from our Food Data Navigator showing the evolution of the capital raised by companies working with food waste technology. Data is shown in millions of euros.

Forward Fooding insight: As startups and scale ups embrace Food Waste, we are yet to see moves from big corporates other than Nestle. We expect this to change over the course of 2020 as consumer demand for sustainable alternatives, and waste reducing solutions increases. Who will be the next big to turn waste into a way to add value to their business?

The FoodTech industry is in an aggressive growth phase and there are no signs of it slowing down. This gets us at Forward Fooding very excited for what’s to come, so roll on 2020. We are ready for you.

If you’re interested in discussing how FoodTech data and insights can transform your open innovation agenda, contact us at info@forwardfooding.com and take advantage of our 7-day free trial of the Foodtech Data Navigator.

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