Foodtech is one of the main VC investment segments attracting nearly $30B of funding in 2022, and startups in the sector now have a combined value of $1.4T.
Foodtech startups raised $3.5B globally in Q2 2023, the lowest level in over five years.
Zooming out tough, foodtech VC investment increased by nearly 30x within the last decade.
The share of total VC funding going to foodtech has also grown from less than 3% in 2013 to over 4% in 2023. Footech accounted for 9% of VC funding at its peak in 2018, before decreasing steadily, especially in 2022-2023. The downfall of food delivery and other segments accounted for most of this change, while the climate tech part shows strong resilience, as we will see in the segment analysis.
Venture capital funding
Comparison with other industries
Foodtech was the 6th most funded industry in Q2 2023, with nearly $4B in VC funding. Foodtech has seen a stronger slowdown than most other sectors, with a 70% funding drop in respect to the last two years.
Foodtech investment by stage
Late-stage funding ($100M+) has seen the strongest reduction dropping from over $9B in some quarters of 2021 to $1B in Q2 2023.
Breakout stage funding ($15-100M) has also decreased strongly from nearly $5B at peak to $1.7B in Q2 2023.
Early-stage (<$25M) is showing a much stronger resilience with less than 50% drop from peak.
Foodtech VC Investment
Investment by geography
The US attracted by far the most funding for Foodtech startups, with over $12B in 2022, notably followed by India and China. The UK is the top European country by Foodtech funding.
China's funding for Foodtech has decreased strongly, while India, UK and France are showing strong growth in the last two years.
Top Global Hubs
Four of the top five hubs by Foodtech funding in 2022 are US based, with the Bay area taking the first spot.
Bengaluru, India, notably claims the second spot for VC funding in Foodtech in 2022. It is also the fastest-growing among top hubs. Paris is also showing strong momentum for Foodtech investment.
Top Global Hubs
Top global Foodtech investors
Top Global Investors
Top European Investors
Combined Enterprise Value
The combined value of Foodtech startups has grown over 40x in the last decade to $1.4T in 2023. Most of this value, $827B, is still in the private market.
Younger cohorts of startups have already created most of the value, showing that value creation is accelerating in foodtech (the 2015+ cohort already accounts for more combined value than any other cohort).
Unicorn creation has strongly dropped from a peak of 34 unicorns created in 2021 to just two so far in 2023.
Food and Climate
The global food system is estimated to contribute 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions, with over half of those a result of livestock agriculture. Most of the impact is in the upstream phase. Agricultural production accounts for most of these emissions (such as methane emissions from livestock and rice and emissions from agriculture operations), followed by land use change (deforestation for animal grazing and feed production).
Downstream accounts for ~30% and comprises of emissions along the value chain (food processing, transport, packaging and retail) and post-retail (household food waste and cooking).
For these reasons, food has been increasingly incorporated into climate discussions, both in public and private spaces. Climate FoodTech startups started gaining momentum also in the VC space.
Climate tech now accounts for approximately one-quarter of foodtech VC funding, up from just 11% in 2016.
Foodtech has though trailed behind other climate tech sectors attracting only 13% of climate tech VC funding in 2022 (and just 9% so far in 2023), compared to a peak of 23% in 2020.
Food waste accounts for approximately 6% of global GHG emissions (.3 Gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year). If food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd highest emitter after China and the US.
It is estimated that more than 1.3 billion tons of food (equal to approximately 13.8% of global food production) are wasted along the whole food supply chain. Almost two-thirds of this (15% of food emissions) comes from losses in the supply chain which result from poor storage and handling techniques, lack of refrigeration, and spoilage in transport and processing. The other 9% comes from food thrown away by retailers and consumers.
Three-quarters of food waste emissions come from meat and animal products, followed by nearly 29% for cereals and pulses.
According to Project Drawdown, food waste reduction is the #1 most effective solution under the scenario that limits end-of-century warming to 2°C.
Food waste VC funding peaked in 2021, attracting $1.6B. 2022-2023 funding is more or less back to 20220 levels at $500-700M in funding.
Food waste is a problem of one thousand cuts and needs a multitude of targeted solutions. Startups are tackling food waste from very different angles across the value chain and consumer stages. A few key segments include:
- reducing waste in the supply chain: software for growers, distributors and retailers to avoid fresh food waste (onethird), food delivery to reduce food waste (Imperfect foods)
- extend food shelf life: using coating/packaging technology (Apeel Sciences)
- reducing food waste at restaurants and food distributors: extend food shelf life using coating/packaging technology (Apeel Sciences, Mori), dynamic labels (mimica), reusable containers (Pyxo), enables sales of unsold food items (Too good to go)
- better waste management: once the food is thrown away, it is still a hugely valuable resource to be reused, uplifted or converted to energy. This depends on improving waste sorting, collection and management solutions. Examples include: waste management for businesses and municipalities (Recycle Track Systems), using organic waste as feed for insect farming (loopworm), transforming food waste into materials like bioplastics (UBQ Materials), waste-to-energy (Impact bioenergy).
According to a recent report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), plant-based alternative proteins are by far the best climate investment.
For each dollar, investment in improving and scaling up the production of meat and dairy alternatives resulted in three times more greenhouse gas reductions compared with investment in green cement technology, seven times more than green buildings and 11 times more than zero-emission cars.
Farming for feed occupies 83% of the world's cropland, when including also feed production, with a huge impact on deforestation, impact on biodiversity loss and carbon emissions from
Lastly, the overconsumption of meat and other animal products, such as cheese, has a strong negative effect on the health of people. A recent Nature Food study found out that a dietary shift away from animal-sourced foods could save $7.3 trillion worth of production-related health burdens and ecosystem degradation while curbing carbon emissions.
However, instead of decreasing, demand for meat is expected to double by 2050. There’s instead the need to reduce consumption by at least 20% by 2030 in the West, and some studies point to a 90% reduction needed by 2050.
Over $15B have been invested in alternative protein startups since 2016, with investments peaking at $5.1B in 2021. Nearly 50% of the funding has been directed to plant-based alternative proteins, followed by lab-grown (also called cultivated) proteins.
Lab-grown meat startups have raised nearly $2.5B since 2020, attracting nearly 20% of total funding in alternative proteins. The US is the leading country with over $1.3B in funding, followed by Israel and Europe. There are now over 70 VC-backed startups worldwide.
There’s strong momentum around lab-grown meat, with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approving in ay 2023 the sale of lab-grown meat in the US, in particular, chicken products from UPSIDE Foods and GOOD Meat by Eat Just, Inc.
This makes the US the second country in the world, after Singapore, to allow the sale of meat grown from animal cells.
Israel’s Aleph Farms has also applied for regulatory approval to the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) to sell lab-grown meat in Switzerland. This could make Switzerland the first European country to approve lab-grown meat.
Explore 90+ lab-grown alternative protein startups.
Target food replacement
The majority of alternative protein startups focus on meat substitutes (Impossible Foods, Upside Foods, Aleph Farms, Mosameat), but there are hundred of other startups offering alternatives to fish and seafood (Wildtype, BlueNalu, PrimeRoots); diary such as cheese and milk (PerfectDay, Oatly, TurtleTree, Vly) and even products like eggs (Just, Perfeggt, Onego Bio) or chocolate (Planet A foods, Nu company).
Discover 1600+ alternative protein startups in Dealroom and explore funding trends for alternative protein.
All the considerations made above for human alternative proteins hold true when talking about pet food too.
Many startups are now offering pet food with alternative protein, either plant-based (Wild earth) or insect-based (Tomojo), which offers superior nutritional properties and health outcomes for the pets, while also having reduced emissions & environmental impact.
Another growing segment is the fresh pet food market, particularly with increased dog ownership since the pandemic. Startups such as Butternut Box and Lyka pet food offer subscription plans for pet owners to receive healthy fresh-cooked dog food.
Discover 1150+ food x pet companies in Dealroom.
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