Explore foodtech and the food transition during a learning expedition

Due to the recent covid-19 pandemic, the food industry is knowing drastic changes worldwide. Countries have to adapt their food supply chains, especially by growing their own food locally, thus being less dependant on other countries for food importations. There is a pressing need for food innovation to make the food supply chain more resilient, transparent, connected and food safer, more organic and plant-based. There are tons of opportunities to reinvent the food industry, and that’s what innovators have started to do with urban farms, waste management solutions, food delivery services, traceability systems or cell-grown meat.

Foodtech has attracted mass investment in 2018 with a record fundraising of $16.9 billion according to AgFunder, nearly half of which in the United States. Startups are even reimagining meat itself to give more sustainable alternatives, like Impossible Foods which is valued at $2 billion (2019).

We organize learning expeditions to help food industry leaders travel to the future of food for a few days and meet the innovators who are shaping the way we will eat tomorrow.

You want to:

Get inspired by innovative and sustainable solutions to the main challenges faced by the food industry

Enrich your vision on the future of food and what’s next in terms of food production and customer experience

• Visit urban farms, kitchens, food manufacturers and food stores that integrate the latest technologies such as visual recognition and robotics

• Identify how to improve operational efficiency in the food sector, from marketing to delivery

Where to go to get a glimpse of the future of food?

Initiatives are burgeoning everywhere, but we recommend Shanghai, Singapore, Tel-Aviv (Israël) and Lagos (Nigeria) for a learning expedition in foodtech.

Shanghai

China has been a pioneer in O2O and has still a booming food delivery apps market. All the Millennials in China are now ordering food online, whether it’s prepared meals or groceries. The Chinese tech giant Alibaba has entered the sector with its own supermarket chain HEMA in 2016, which merges online and offline, and is supporting other food retailers such as Starbucks to better leverage on digital to improve the customer experience. Its competitor Tencent, the owner of WeChat, has also entered the space by offering digital solutions to other retailers such as Carrefour.

China is also a step ahead when it comes to food traceability. Due to many food scandals, consumers are very careful about where their food comes from. All fresh products sold in HEMA can be scanned with the HEMA app to track exactly where it comes from, how and when it has been transported, etc.
After a surge of demand for western style diets, including processed food imports and animal protein, the Chinese population has been recently shifting to healthier diets. Official nutritional advice from the government recommends eating less red meat, poultry and seafood. Organic food sales grew about 18-20% in 2017 in China, and Euromonitor recorded an increase of 4% of consumption in fruits and vegetables in 2016. Meituan Dianping, main food delivery player, said orders for salads increased 160% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018. Between 2015 and 2020, China is projected to be the fastest growing market for vegan products at a rate of 17.2%, according to South China Morning Post. The Chinese government has therefore signed a trade agreement with Israel worth $300 million to import lab-grown meat produced by 3 main startups in the field.

Shanghai is hosting China’s first food-centric accelerator, Bits&Bites, launched in 2016, which is also a venture capital fund that invests in startups tackling global food system challenges. Among the accelerated companies, one startup called Bugsolutely Bella Pupa, is producing pasta containing 20% cricket flour and mainly sold in Thailand, as well as a snack based on silkworm powder, sold in China. .

Urban farming is also starting to grow in Shanghai. Hydra Biotech started in 2016 by building containers with independant climate controlled modules that can be equipped with hydroponics and aquaponics towers. San Francisco-based startup Plenty, backed by Jeff Bezos and Softbank Vision Fund, is now planning to enter China and build at least 300 indoor farms.

Singapore

About 90% of Singapore’s food currently comes from overseas, most of it being imported from Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and South Africa. However, local food supply is increasing in the country, especially in urban areas as the Singapore Food Agency announced last year, plans to have 30% of the country’s food produced locally by 2030.

Urban farmings have seen their number increasing, and are coming up with new methods to grow food. From community gardens found in housing estates, to schools and even offices, urban-tech farms are also taking root in Singapore, mainly growing vegetables and fruits. Technologies such as the aquaponic system, which consists of a fish pond and a sloped planter bed (the system has water running through stainless steel water spouts). The fish waste provides organic fertilizer for the plants and the plants filter the water for the fish.

Besides, indoor farms use hydroponics to grow veggies using mineralized water and LED light instead of soil and sunlight, which allow them to use up to 90% less water than soil-based farms. For instance, Sustenir, is an agritech startup that produces foreign crops in lab-controlled vertical farms powered by artificial intelligence and LED lighting which helps photosynthesis in plants. By growing non-native crops in lab-controlled settings, the startup hopes to alleviate dependence on foreign food imports, which generates additional carbon emissions, and food waste in the transportation process.

From farm to table, some restaurants and hotels have already started to grow crops on their rooftops, using their own food waste such as crushed egg shells, used coffee grounds or spoilt uncooked vegetables, as compost. For example, 20% of the produce used by the One Farrer Hotel comes from its own farm.

During the covid-19 pandemic, hotels and restaurants’ farms cover a significant proportion of supply as their produces are now directly sold and delivered to consumers.

Israël

More than half of the land area in Israel is desert, and the climate and lack of water resources do not favor farming. Only 20% of the land area is naturally arable. Among other places, we’ve found Israël to be really ahead when it comes to agritech, urban farming and cell-grown meat.
Kibboutz, started in the early 90s, are the pioneers of the creation of the state of Israël. These rural villages used to work according to collectivism principles. They got away from their social roots, creating individual enterprises and introducing salaries. Today, the whole country invests a lot in the latest innovations in agriculture. The Israeli government opened a food technology incubator in which it plans to invest more than 28 billion US dollars over the next 8 years. This endeavor led to the creation of many agritech startups.

PlantArcBio works on the genes of plants to allow them to resist arid desert lands and hot weather. To do this, the company identified genes that are found in desert plants, selected them, and reinject them into plants that that could not grow in arid environments otherwise.

Three of the main startups working on cell-grown meat, also called “clean meat” are in Israël: Aleph Farms, Future Meat Technologies and SuperMeat. Another startup, Jet Eat claims to have duplicated the texture of meat using plant-based formulations and 3D printers.

In 2017, Hebrew University in Israel unveiled a concept for using a 3D printer to create, design and print a meal. The concept, though several years away from being implemented, already has a basic ingredient: nano-cellulose, a natural, edible fiber that could be altered to specific textures and bound to other substances like proteins, carbohydrates and fats to create real, fully cooked and quite delicious meals.

Israël is also at the cutting edge of AI-powered technologies. In the food retail sector, computer vision can help identify customers’ shopping items and create a seamless checkout process. That’s what the startup Trigo Vision is trying to do. The startup partnered with a local supermarket chain to begin installing its platform in over 272 cashier-less stores in November 2018. AI will also transform delivery, through autonomous vehicles and delivery drones. For example, Flytrex is an Israeli startup that raised 11 million dollars to deliver packages through the air.

Nigeria

As agriculture still counts for 20% of the GDP and more than 72 % of Nigeria’s smallholders live below the poverty line of USD 1.9 a day, many entrepreneurs are trying to help farm holders through technology, including helping them to get the capital investment (agro crowdfunding), improving their productivity, and connecting them to local markets.

In order to fight hunger and to reduce food waste, Nigeria is turning to technology.
Chowberry is an application that offers local groups the possibility to identify food that is close to its expiration date at nearby grocery stores. They can purchase this food for a reduced price which allows non-governmental organizations to distribute them to needy people.

Farmcrowdy is a Lagos-based digital agriculture platform focused on connecting farm sponsors with real farmers. The platform gives Nigerians the opportunity to participate in Agriculture by selecting the kind of farms they want to sponsor. They use the sponsor’s funds to secure the land, engage the farmer, plant the seeds, insure the farmers and farm produce, complete the full farming cycle, sell the harvest and then pay the farm sponsor a return on their sponsorship.

Similarly, Growsel, Nigeria’s leading agricultural technology start-up is helping smallholder farmers secure credit needed to increase production and boost productivity by acting as a link between the farmers and investors.

Hello Tractor is a company that enables farmers to request affordable tractor services, while providing enhanced security to tractor owners through remote asset tracking and virtual monitoring. The startup aims to increase farmers’ access to mechanisation services and youth employment opportunities.

LET'S DISCUSS YOUR OBJECTIVES TOGETHER!

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING OUR OPEN LEARNING EXPEDITION?

NETWORK OF EXPERTS IN ASIA

We connect you to inspiring innovators who matter for you and are ready to share their experience and best practices – from disruptive startups to innovative corporates, digital experts and vibrant communities.

STRATEGIC FACILITATION

We provide a complete experience with workshops and reflection sessions to share insights, foster new thinking and stimulate new ideas. The project team suggests and validates the facilitation preferences for each part of the tour, according to the learning objectives of the group. Our facilitators create a safe environment and organize sharing moments to build cohesion and alignment.

RESULTS ORIENTED

We create results-oriented, 100% tailored and out of the box learning formats – from Learning expeditions to transformation workshops, innovation events or advisory boards. We build the trip together. We advise you according to your budget and needs.

HOW DOES A LEARNING EXPEDITION WORK?

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EXPERIENTIAL VISITS & MEETINGS

We engage in open discussions with
innovators to get fresh ideas and learn from their experience, we test out the
latest prototypes

TAILORED PROGRAM

Our innovators are specially curated for you to glean rich insights for your learning objectives

PARTICIPANTS GUIDES & MEETINGS WRAP-UPS

We prepare all meetings with the speakers, provide you with well documented guides and send you a wrap-up of the tour once the learning expedition is over

FACILITATION

We organize workshops and reflection sessions to share insights from the visits, foster new thinking and stimulate new ideas