The future of FoodTech is bright. Housing many of the most impactful careers in tech, the Food Technology market is backed to reach an estimated $360.19 billion by 2028, a 28% increase from 2022.
Despite the recent dip in VC funding, deal counts are poised to rise with each passing quarter (represented by a 13.1% increase in 2023’s first quarter alone). The FoodTech space is maturing, and so is the technological innovation required to power its progress.
A few particular areas look set to emerge from the slump at full speed, and they’ll find themselves facing a very different landscape.
Between the fallout from the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, supply chain disarray, inflation, and a perpetual skill gap, FoodTech pioneers have had a fair amount to contend with in recent years. That said, is the macroeconomic uncertainty driving appetite for FoodTech? Paradigm shifts in consumer attitudes, climate change, and a flourishing alternative proteins market could signify a new dawn.
Appetite for Alternative Proteins
Alternative proteins, commonly referred to as alt-proteins, faux meat or alt-meats, have come a long way from being ‘laughed out of town’ (as Samir Kaul, Impossible Food’s first investor puts it).
Alt-proteins are forecast to command a market value of $193.75 billion by 2028, driven largely by the growing demand for sustainable alternatives to livestock production.
And this is exactly what alt-proteins are – a generalised term for foods, drinks, or ingredients that stem from non-animal sources. They’ve been around for a while, but thanks to advancements in areas like robotics, computer vision, AI, automated manufacturing, and various forms of climate and agricultural tech, we can navigate many of the pitfalls that held the industry back to begin with.
AI-enabled precision fermentation is a prime example. A process that organisations such as Perfect Day and Clara Foods both utilise to produce a range of vegan-friendly products at scale with a reduced environmental impact.
According to The Good Institute, the global plant-based retail industry had generated $6.1 billion in sales by the end of 2022, spurred on by a growing population of consumers willing to try meat alternatives. The same study goes on to state that 6 in 10 U.S. households purchased plant-based products in 2022, and global sales of plant-based milk grew to $19.1 billion (up by 6% from 2021).
Increasing rates of consumer buy-in
AI-optimised supply chains
Industry visibility and consumer awareness/knowledge
The ethics of animal welfare
An Intricate Regulatory Landscape
As Net-Zero promises roll in (over 450 institutions have made them through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero in 2023 alone), is somewhat indicative of a changing regulatory landscape.
It’s an intricate landscape, but when the evolution of the tech in question is outpacing regulatory measures, this is somewhat expected. Whether that’s preparing cultivated meat for commercialisation (it’s on menus already) or the modernisation of consumption guidelines, there’s a lot to consider, and the regulations vary widely between regions.
Broadly speaking, government influence has catalysed the rate of FoodTech development in recent years. Concerns for worldwide food security, economic growth and sustainability are rising – currently, about one-third of all human-produced greenhouse gases come from the food industry. The race to avert climate disaster is inexorably linked to FoodTech, and in many cases, we’ve seen efforts made to drive progress at the state level, including:
The EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy – designed to speed up the transition to a greener future, the EU’s F2F strategy was launched under the European Green Deal in 2020. The strategy is a six-part plan to support its wider goal of becoming the first carbon-neutral region by 2050.
Singapore as a world leader in FoodTech Innovation – Singapore’s ‘Regulatory Sandbox’ was designed to enable FoodTech product testing without having to comply with standard regulations. A favourable, innovation-led startup landscape has led to some astonishing success stories, like that of Shiok Meats.
US Regulatory Clearance – The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) approved two companies to sell lab-grown chicken, a first for the nation (the US remains a global leader in FoodTech investment).
The Future of Work
FoodTech innovations rest at the intersection of innovation, protection, enablement, and technology, opportunity-rich areas for those seeking a head-start in their career.
Here at Trust in SODA, we’re equipped to connect job-seekers with inclusive, growth-enabled environments they can thrive in.
Want to talk about all things FoodTech? DM me: Jack Herbert.