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FoodTech sector gets ready to boom

The world is reaching the point where conventional methods of feeding humanity aren’t enough. Across a wide and deep spectrum, Food Technology (FoodTech) is flexing its power, with new ideas tested and successes growing in number.

Thousands of companies operate in the FoodTech sector, in hundreds of different ways. With food so essential to our lives, and the sector so vibrant that mergers and acquisitions (M&A), too, are inevitable.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency examined the breadth of the technologies that will shape the UK food system, identifying six fields of technology with implications for the industry, consumers, food safety and regulation:

  • Food production and processing, including indoor farming, 3D food printing, food side and byproduct use, novel non-thermal processing, and novel pesticides

  • Novel sources of protein such as insects, for both human consumption and animal feedstock

  • Synthetic biology, including lab-grown meat and proteins

  • Genomics applications along the value chain for food safety applications, and personal nutrigenomics

  • Novel packaging such as active, smart, biodegradable, edible, and reusable solutions

  • Digital technologies in the food sector to support analysis, decision making and traceability

The report is a fascinating primer, but even just glancing at that list illustrates how broad and deep this sector already is – and it’s growing fast. According to Forward Fooding, an organisation dedicated to helping FoodTech entrepreneurs access funding, roughly £42billion was invested in the sector in 2021 – a 67% increase against 2020.

This year, DigitalFoodLab identified 55 FoodTech unicorns in Europe, including 23 new unicorns in 2021 alone including in the AgriTech, food science, robotics, packaging and supply chain sectors.

Prospects for the future growth of the industry are incredibly strong, because the demand for new systems and technology to manage food will only continue to grow.

It’s clear our need for better use of technology in food production, management, distribution – and the rest – is not going away. It’s also inevitable that FoodTech firms will be of different sizes – from small and hyperlocal to multinational – and finance will range between charity and social-based models right through to large corporate entities.


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