Food. It is one of the most basic human needs. Without food, we will perish. However, it seems that the habits that the human race has developed around the growing production and consumption of food have also put our species in danger. That’s the reason increasing emphasis is being put on leveraging technological innovation in order to solve some of the burning issues concerning food. It is no wonder, then, that the market is expected to reach $700 billion by 2030¹.
Since the earliest days of mankind, food has been a main driver of technology. From fashioning tools that helped us emerge from the hunter/gatherer age into the age of agriculture, to contemporary technologies of lab-grown meat, 3D-printed food and genetically edited crops using CRISPR. As much as our ability to sustain ourselves has served us for millennia, it has also created some of the worst problems mankind is facing today.
The Demographic Shift
Currently home to just under 8 billion people, the Earth is expected to reach a human population of more than 10 billion over the next 30 years, which in turn will lead to a 60% spike² in food demand.
Life in the world today is much more comfortable as compared to other periods in history, leading to over-indulgence and massive food waste. It is estimated that about one-third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted annually, while there are still more than 800 million people in the world suffering from starvation. FoodTech would most likely be a driver of both waste reduction and feeding those in need.
The Environmental Issue
Attempts to meet growing demand and the hyper-industrialisation of the food industry have led to the industry becoming virtually unsustainable from an ecological standpoint, accounting for some 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. Among the drivers of the FoodTech industry are agritech solutions being developed to create more sustainable ways of producing food, reducing pollution, engineering more durable crops and optimising water consumption.
Consumer Behaviour is Changing
In the western world, consumers are becoming more aware of the implications of consumerism and the importance of a sustainable diet. Seventy-five percent of millennials say they are willing to pay more for sustainable food, and recent developments in food consumption enable them to do just that.
As part of this shift, plant-based diets have grown more popular. In the UK alone, there has been a rise of 185% in vegan products offered between 2012 and 2016, and 1 in every 5 Brits under 35 has tried a vegan diet³. The popularity of meat alternatives was clearly demonstrated with the Beyond Meat IPO in May 2019, which saw the BYND stock value quadruple in less than 3 months.
In addition, the popularityof smartphones has made way for delivery apps such as UberEats, Deliveroo and Wolt, that enable users to order food from a much larger selection of restaurants. Restaurants can now also offer delivery without having to hire their own delivery workers. This subsector of the industry may gain even more traction in the coming years, as driverless cars start hitting the road and even more technology will be involved in the process.
Solving Real Problems
FoodTech is solving existing problems by utilising new technologies. For example, the recent popularity of blockchain technology has helped to create several applications for food supply chains based on the technology. Since its introduction, several major corporations have begun using it to track and monitor supply chains, helping consumers and producers optimise the process.
But it won’t end there. Numerous technologies that have emerged in recent years will be harnessed to the betterment of the food industry. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are already being utilised to optimise warehouse management by combining them with Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Advancements in sensors, 5G internet, robotics and many other fields of technology will be increasingly deployed to make operations more efficient.
Investing in FoodTech
With great need comes great financial possibilities. The FoodTech industry is already a major market, but it will grow even more in the coming years. To give its clients exposure to this tremendous opportunity, eToro has created the FoodTech Smart Portfolio: A fully allocated, managed portfolio offering a thematic investment in FoodTech. The Portfolio spans e various sectors and subsectors of the market, including Agritech, food innovation, supply chain management, food equipment, blockchain, personalised nutrition, gene editing, plant-based protein, 3D food printing, vertical farming, precision farming, lab-grown food, bioplastics, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT). To track the portfolio and the FoodTech industry in general, you can add the FoodTech Smart Portfolio to your watchlist.
Your capital is at risk. This material has been prepared without taking into account any particular recipient’s investment objectives or financial situation, and has not been prepared in accordance with the legal and regulatory requirements to promote independent research. Smart Portfolios is a portfolio management product. Smart Portfolios should not be considered as exchange-traded funds, nor as hedge funds.