Beware, food tech dilettantes: Do not go charging headlong into London’s Future Food-Tech event this October without a good game plan.
In past years, you might have gotten away with aimless roving; that was back when these events were all a lot smaller and cosier and more manageable.
Yet those days, in the words of Celine Dion, are gone. There has been a popularity boom that in some ways mirrors the food tech sector in general. And that leaves today’s FFT conferences morphed almost beyond recognition into something vast and thriving; they now take place three times a year — San Francisco, New York, London. Plus another in Singapore as part of the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Week. And these days, each swiftly turns into diverse and irrepressible stampedes of investors, tailed by zealous startuppers, wacky scientists, tireless restaurateurs, corporate bigwigs, and … yes, best of all, reporters. (Don’t be shy; do come and say “Hi” if you see me there!)
With all this food tech tumult, do not be ashamed of seeking help before you go. This reporter did, and was kindly sent this batch of 17 food tech startups to keep track of by the team at Rethink, the Brighton-based events company behind FFT.
Are these startups award winners? Not quite, Rethink’s global delegate manager Jet Luckhurst tells AFN. “It’s kind of like those albums or songs you might recommend to friends: As in, ‘You might not have heard of these ones, but we think they’re kind of cool.’”
What makes these sorts of lists worth a scan through is that similar featured lists in past years have not been the end of the story for the companies highlighted. Past events have seen mentions of startups that have gone onto bigger things, like Memphis Meats or Amai Proteins.
So without further ado, here’s a startup crib sheet to wise-up on ahead of FFT, courtesy of Luckhurst, which includes weird and wonderful solutions like cell-based dairy, jackfruit pepperoni, shelf-stable steak, insect-based snacks, digital representation of scents and tastes, and new low-calorie sources of sugar.
- Amazentis (Switzerland) is an innovative life science company that employs today’s leading research and clinical science to develop the next generation of products targeting mitochondrial health for advanced nutrition. The company’s proprietary technology, Urolithin A (UA), is safe, bioavailable and supports mitochondrial and cellular health in humans.\
- Aromyx (US) is a California based big data start-up revolutionising the agri-food tech industry. The company’s technology pioneered the creation of quantified, digital representations of scent and taste. It directly measures how odours and flavours are perceived by consumers and measures off-flavours or contaminants in raw materials to mitigate issues before they hit production lines.
- Connecting Food (France) uses blockchain technology to make food more transparent. It provides B2B clients with a real-time traceability solution that can follow a product in real time, and digitally audit each batch or production. This helps the client create value until the final consumers.
- Entis (Finland) is the leading insect food brand in the Nordics, with a focus on meat substitutes as well as the gym and fitness sector. Entis´ products are already sold by the biggest retailers in Finland and will soon be launched in four different European countries.
- Glucanova (Sweden) is a research-based company driven by innovation and curiosity. The company has a focus on IP protected fibre rich liquid oat ingredients and technologies. Its vision is to address global health and sustainability concerns with documented healthy liquid oat fibre products.
- GrainSense (Finland) has developed the world’s first hand-held device for grain quality measurement. For the first time, farmers, seed producers and plant breeders can instantly and rapidly measure the key parameters of their crops in the field and make decisions that can improve profitability. The hand-held device measures the protein, moisture, oil, and carbohydrate content of cereal grains and other crops. The service utilizes GPS positioning and offers cloud based big data services.
- iSense (Switzerland) is a sensory operation and B2B marketplace dedicated to flavours. It creates unique sensory profiles for flavours, making it easy for flavour houses and F&B makers to search, optimise, benchmark and promote extensive flavour collections. While iSense’s sensory data brings comparability and discrimination between flavours, its digital tools generate productivity, commercial reach and accelerate innovation.
- IXON Food Technology (Hong Kong) specialises in advanced sous-vide aseptic packaging, a patent-pending processing/packaging technology that allows foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits, to be sterilised at 60 to 80 °C. Through sterilisation at such low temperatures, food manufacturers can turn perishable foods, such as medium-rare steak and poached eggs, into shelf-stable products.
- Jack & Bry (UK) has introduced a jackfruit pepperoni. A revolutionary new ‘process-lite’ product, it’s free from soy, gluten and palm oil, but not free from taste. With the worldwide pizza market currently valued at $144.68 billion alone, Jack & Bry’s jackfruit pepperoni is a world first. No compromise on flavour, high in fibre and 70% less fat than real meat counterparts.
- Legendairy Foods (Germany) is a food biotech company on a mission to shape a more sustainable food system to feed the future of the planet. The company is Europe’s first cell-ag company developing clean dairy products. The integration of plant-based ingredients and real milk components produced through fermentation allows it to combine the best of two worlds and manufacture functional and nutritious dairy with no animals involved.
- Mimica (UK) makes accessible, affordable freshness indicators to cut food waste. The information provided by food expiry dates is inaccurate and over-cautious, leading to food being binned when it doesn’t need to be – in fact, 60% of food that is wasted in the UK is still perfectly edible. The company’s solution, Mimica Touch, shows food freshness and spoilage in real time, adjusting to real temperature conditions along the way to create the most accurate results.
- Multus Media (UK) has a vision to produce a low-cost, food-grade growth medium for use in the cellular agriculture industry. Its B2B model enables cellular agriculture companies to reach large-scale, economically viable production required to break into the global mass market. The final product will revolutionise the food industry by reducing peoples’ dependence on the livestock industry and greenhouse gas emissions while making more efficient use of freshwater, land and energy.
- Mushlabs (Germany) is a biotech startup using fermentation to develop sustainable foods from mycelium. It has developed a method to sustainably grow edible mushroom mycelium on upcycled waste streams to produce alternative proteins. The result is a raw material with a strong nutritional profile, taste and texture which make it ideal as a meat substitute.
- Producers Market (Panama) is pioneering the digitisation of agricultural value chains globally as a tool for farmer and consumer empowerment. The company has built a B2B marketplace application and an interconnected ecosystem of partnerships to facilitate a transformative model of digital marketing, smart contracts, distributed ledger transactions and blockchain based traceability.
- Stem (UK) – is a food-tech company that has developed a patent-pending method of biologically purifying natural, low calorie sugar ingredients from plants. It’s revolutionising unhealthy sugar-rich food categories and its product Stem Sugar allows food companies, for the first time, to economically create cookies, cakes and candies without the negative health effects of cane or beet sugar. (Disclaimer: This is an AgFunder portfolio company.)
- Triton Algae Innovations (US) produces a nutritious non-GM algae as a sustainable new food ingredient. Triton’s protein-rich algae has a complete amino acid profile, can be made in green, yellow and red formats, and produce heme proteins for use in plant-based meat products. It has FDA GRAS status for its use in foods.\
- Vital Vio (US) has patented a new class of ‘continuous disinfection’ using LED lighting to kill harmful bacteria, fungi, yeast and mould on surfaces. Unlike harmful ultraviolet (UV) light, which is dangerous to humans and degrades materials like plastics, this is safe for people, animals and plants, attacks the molecular structure that exists exclusively within microorganisms. Vital Vio has engineered this for both overhead lighting in food preparation areas and directly inside food processing lines.
What are you keeping an eye on at FFT? And who are the best speakers? Drop me a note at [email protected]