Data Snapshot is a regular AFN feature in which we analyze agrifoodtech market investment data provided by our parent company, AgFunder, a food and agriculture technology venture capital firm.
In-store retail and restaurant tech in the APAC region netted $1.1 billion dollars in 2021, a 45% jump from 2020 levels, according to AgFunder’s recent Asia-Pacific AgriFoodTech Investment Report. Broadly this category includes technologies such as shelf-stacking robots, point-of-sale systems, food waste monitoring solutions, 3D food printers, and reservation management software among others – some of which dominated the top deals in 2021, as seen below.
The Covid-19 pandemic had a clear impact on brick & mortar restaurants and retailers, forcing them to innovate to stay afloat, so while globally there was a dip in investment during 2020, it soon picked up in 2021 as these stores adjusted to a new normal that forced many of them to digitize. From needing an online presence to drive their marketing among a more cautious customer base, to needing to improve efficiencies in-house in the wake of a global labor shortage in food service, the category posted strong investment totals in 2021.
In-store retail and restaurant tech emerged APAC’s fourth largest investment category, after eGrocery, Midstream Technologies and Restaurant Marketplaces.
The large investment figure was also a result of a mega Series E deal for Singapore’s Trax, the store shelf image recognition tech that raised a $640m round. The deal was the largest in this category globally and contributed nearly half of APAC’s total in-store retail and restaurant tech investments.
Globally, a similar occurrence was that a small number of big rounds were responsible for the category’s 62% YOY growth in dollars invested in 2021, according to the 2022 AgFunder AgriFoodTech Investment Report.
2022 was a different story however with funding declining to around $700 million, a similar amount that was raised in the region during 2020, according to data from AgFunder’s upcoming global agrifoodtech investment report.
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Top countries in restaurant tech funding
Trax’s $640 million round bumped up Singapore’s overall venture capital flows, positioning the country at the top with $708.1 million. China, well known for its advanced restaurant tech industry came in second with $155.6 million while Australia followed with $112.4 million.
Even with the exclusion of Trax, Singapore’s in-store retail and restaurant tech category was still a strong contender in the APAC region as Singaporean startups closed the most deals in 2021, followed by India and Japan.