This Thanksgiving, we at AgFunder are thankful for our portfolio companies.
Over the last year, we have invested in some transformational food tech startups, operating across the supply chain, from farm to fork.
What is Food Tech?
Food tech is the small but growing segment of the startup and venture capital universe that’s aiming to improve or disrupt the global food system.
Globally, food and agriculture is a $7.8 trillion industry, responsible for feeding the planet and employing well over 40% of the population. It also represents more than 15% of global GDP.
There is a range of demands being put on the world’s food industry today that food tech companies want to solve for, including the following:
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- Shifts in consumer preferences and demands with clear dichotomies evident across different parts of the world such as increasing demand for meat in developing nations whilst a drive to consume less meat exists in developed markets.
- There is a growing awareness of the impact of the food industry on the environment — agriculture, forestry and changes in land use contribute to around 20% of all carbon emissions, without counting the contribution of supply chain processes before it reaches the consumer, such as food processing, transportation, and retail.
- Roughly one-third of all food produced is wasted — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste— amounting to roughly $680 billion in developed countries and $310 billion in developing countries.
- Consumer health: One in 10 people are starving, yet obesity is on the rise with more than one-third of US adults obese and 17% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years, with similar statistics emerging across the developed world.
- A lack of digitization in the food industry compared to other industries was highlighted by McKinsey Global Institute’s Digitization Index.
We believe that the food system needs to be revolutionized throughout the supply chain and we are backing the food tech entrepreneurs with the technologies and expertise to affect that change.
We are very proud of our portfolio of food system disruptors and we want to make sure you know who they are!
So in alphabetic order, the 8 transformational food tech companies that we’ve invested in — that have announced — are:
Aerobotics – smart crop scouting – South Africa
Aerobotics is a South African agtech company with a smart scouting platform to identify pests and diseases in tree crops. The startup has developed a system that tracks every tree on the farm, detecting problems early, and guiding farmers to the location of the threat.
Aerobotics’ platform combines weekly satellite data, automated drone scouting, and infield scouting data and then uses machine learning to automatically detect pest and disease problems. It alerts the farmer to those locations to ground-truth the data and diagnose the specific problems. By bringing farmer validation into the loop, Aerobotics gets smarter all the time, which benefits all the growers on the platform.
Brightseed – USA
Brightseed discovers plant-based nutritional bioactives from commodity crops and incorporates these highly beneficial ingredients into everyday food products. By restoring nutrients that have been lost in our modern diet, Brightseed strengthens the body’s inherent ability to repair itself and maintain good health.
Chinova Bioworks – natural food preservative -Canada
Chinova Bioworks has developed a natural broad-spectrum preservative for food and beverages using chitosan from mushrooms. The product can also be customized to address particular pathogens that are specific to individual food and beverage companies.
Chitosan’s antimicrobial properties are well known, but their effectiveness as a natural preservative has been limited. Chinova has developed proprietary technology that produces Chitosan with the molecular characteristics to be at least as effective as traditional synthetic preservatives while maintaining its status as a completely natural product. It recently received the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a very extensive application.
Connecterra – AI for dairy cows – The Netherlands
Connecterra is an artificial intelligence-powered decision support software service for dairy farmers that can detect health issues such as mastitis or lameness at least 24 hours before they are critical.
Ida can also track changes on the farm and tell you what the impact of the change is on the behaviour of the animals through the sensors worn by the cows. Automated learning means that Ida’s algorithms are constantly improving the product for its customers.
ImpactVision – hyperspectral imagery for food freshness and quality – UK
ImpactVision applies machine learning to hyperspectral imagery in food processing and across the supply chain to measure freshness, quality, and for foreign object detection in a rapid and non-invasive way.
Solinftec – machine data for efficiency – Brazil
Solinftec is a Brazilian IoT-based farm management system helping clients to monitor the status of their machines in the field and their progress based on their positioning and what activity they’re undertaking. Using a suite of technologies including proprietary hardware, a telemetry communications network, and a software-as-a-service platform, Solinftec can also give clients a verifiable record of their harvest and traceability from the farm to the truck to mill, without any human input.
Maybe one of the biggest agtech companies that no one has ever heard of, Solinftec is currently running on over 12 million acres and monitoring 20,000 pieces of equipment with 75,000 active daily users and 50% of the Brazilian sugarcane market.
Trace Genomics – actionable microbial insights – USA
Trace Genomics has built the first scalable soil microbiome test to help farmers predict soil disease, soil health, and crop quality, using high-throughput DNA sequencing and machine learning.
With a growing, proprietary knowledge base, Trace Genomics can identify previously unknowable microbial species occurring in agricultural soils, and provide farmers with information about which microbes could be impacting production. Farmers can use this information to make decisions about which seeds to use, what rotations to deploy and which biological agents and other inputs to apply.
The Yield – micro-climate sensing & analytics – Australia
The Yield is an Australian AI-driven micro-climate sensing, analytics, and prescription platform for the aquaculture and horticulture industries. The blend of high quality, accurate and reliable sensing hardware with meaningful, useful analytics and prescriptions honed in harsh aquatic environments positions the Yield is the premier player in micro-climate sensing.
To find out more about how to co-invest with us in transformational food tech companies, and to join our latest fund as an investor before it closes at the end of this month, please click here.