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Major Events in the Agri-food Technology Industry in 2021

  In this year, the agricultural and food technology industry has not been sluggish, and continues to develop with the blowout in 2020, and has achieved good results in many sub-fields, including alternative protein, fresh food e-commerce, and third-party delivery. Services, agricultural biotechnology, etc. Especially in the upstream field of agricultural food, with the outbreak of the epidemic, the need for the iterative update of many upstream technologies has become prominent, and investors have entered the market one after another.

  However, although some areas have performed well in terms of financing, the overall number of financing transactions has remained flat or has fallen slightly, which seems to indicate that the follow-up momentum in this area needs to be strengthened, such as facility agriculture. If you fail to follow up our previous articles and reports in time, please don't miss the exclusive year-end inventory of "City Food and Agriculture", and still grasp the major events of this year's agri-food technology industry.

1. COP26 signs "Global Methane Commitment" and "Deforestation Reduction Agreement"

  One of the annual events in 2021 must be the "COP26 United Nations Climate Change Summit" held in Glasgow. This conference has attracted more attention than any previous climate conference. The "last, best chance" has attracted the attention of many stakeholders and the global public.

  Although from the perspective of agriculture and food, COP26 is generally unremarkable, and it can even be said to ignore the agri-food industry. For example, issues such as agricultural carbon credits have not been systematically discussed, even if there are many startups and organizations. And farmers are creating an agricultural carbon credit market.

  Of course, exciting news related to the industry came out at the summit. The United States and the European Union initiated the "Global Methane Commitment" signed by 105 countries, and the "Deforestation Reduction Agreement" reached by 137 countries and 10 commodity companies, all involving the agri-food industry, especially the global meat And dairy producers. However, according to FAIRR's analysis, they are not yet fully prepared for this.

  The agreement reached by COP26 has a long way to go and is of great significance. It is hoped that agri-food will occupy a more important position in future climate summits, and according to Climate Tech VC, in fact, in the past year, investors seeking to cope with the climate crisis are most interested in “food and drink” related start-ups. That is, "food and water", attracting the largest number of investors to date.

2. Bayer teamed up with Microsoft to develop new cloud digital tools and data science solutions

  Just two months ago, Bayer and Microsoft Azure reached a new cooperation agreement to support FieldView of Climate, a farm data platform owned by Bayer. This may have a broader impact on the agricultural technology industry and agricultural data.

  The two companies plan to build a new set of cloud-based digital tools and data science solutions for agriculture and related industries. Once completed, this ready-made data infrastructure can be licensed to start-up companies and large global enterprises for use in services including agricultural operations, sustainable procurement, manufacturing and supply chain improvement, as well as monitoring and measurement.

  Although analysts have different views on the two giants joining forces, it is undeniable that the cooperation between Bayer and Microsoft may change the rules of the game in the agricultural industry and establish a truly powerful agricultural digital tool.

  From another perspective, Bayer's Fieldview is the world's largest digital agriculture platform, occupies a large share in the agricultural field, and has a large amount of agricultural data. As we all know, the focus of "Agriculture 4.0" is data, so the cooperation between Bayer and Microsoft may become a prelude to dominate agricultural data in the future.

3. SPAC merger accelerates the tide of listing of agricultural and food technology companies

  At the beginning of this year, AppHarvest, a facility agricultural technology company merged by SPAC, was officially listed on Nasdaq. It became the first agri-food technology company to benefit from the SPAC boom, and started a series of SPAC listings of agri-food technology companies. These include Helbiz in the food distribution field, Local Bounti in the facility agriculture field, Greenlight Biosciences and Ginkgo Bioworks in agricultural biotechnology, and the breeding technology platform Benson Hill.

  SPAC provides an opportunity to invest in new, young and exciting technology companies, including agricultural and food technology companies. On the positive side, SPAC can make more early-stage start-ups no longer afraid to go public, and also help shorten the investment feedback loop of venture capital, and promote more capital to invest in early-stage companies before the IPO. This is especially important in the field of agricultural food technology, because agriculture and food technology often take longer to gain market popularity.

  In the end, SPAC is conducive to getting more investors' attention in the agri-food technology field, and it also allows more outstanding start-up companies to thrive. At present, there are still few exits from investment in agri-food technology, but with the convenience of SPAC, we will see more agri-food technology companies successfully go public, becoming a strategic tool for the exit of agri-food technology investors and promoting the development and iteration of the industry.

4. EU approves yellow mealworms for human consumption: a major opportunity for insect protein

  The European Food Safety Authority (European Food Safety Authority) announced at the beginning of this year that yellow mealworms are suitable for human consumption, opening the door to new markets for the growing insect protein industry and paving the way for the application of insect protein in the future.

  Although they have a history of eating insects in many countries, they have not been formally approved for food safety supervision. The EU Food Safety Agency’s decision does not make the EU a pioneer in eating yellow mealworms, but this decision makes it the world’s first insects that have received a positive safety assessment for human consumption.

  Insect proteins and insect oils have gained great traction and success in the fields of animal feed and pet food. Since insect breeding uses fewer resources and planting areas, and can produce protein more efficiently, these tiny organisms play a very important role in the world's future protein demand.

  In addition, in September this year, the European Union also formally approved insect protein to be used in pig and poultry feed products, which means that the two most important EU animal feed markets are open to insect protein. Prior to this, insect protein could only be used legally in the EU for aquaculture feed, as well as feed for pets and other non-edible animals.

  These two regulatory approvals on insects are an important step in the upgrade of the European insect industry, and will help the EU promote the region’s animal husbandry cycle, food localization and self-sufficiency, and achieve its farm-to-table flexibility and sustainability goals . For the global insect breeding and processing industry, it is the most powerful boost!

5. Hydroponic cultivation system can obtain organic certification

  Should hydroponics be included in the organic certification system or excluded? This is a chattering controversy, which has been a quarter of a century, and finally a new chapter has been opened this year.

  The U.S. District Court in San Francisco confirmed the legality of organic certification for hydroponic cultivation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the first time this year. The chief judge in charge of the case pointed out: “This case stems from a debate about whether hydroponics can be certified for organic agriculture. The US Department of Agriculture rejected the request for rule-making and reasonably concluded that the statutory scheme for certification of organic agriculture Hydroponics is not excluded."

  This means that agricultural products grown in hydroponic containers or other hydroponic systems are eligible for organic certification. Although this is the ruling of the US court, it can be called a victory for American hydroponic growers, but it also opened a wider market for many hydroponic farm operators in the world and added value to their products.

  As each country has different organic certification standards, it remains to be seen whether other countries will follow up and adjust their organic policies based on this judgment.

6. Facility agriculture fell to the peak of high expectations

  On October 15 this year, a humble news bulletin made the field of facility agriculture blow up: the vertical agricultural technology company AeroFarms' SPAC listing plan failed! In addition, after AppHarvest, the first stock of facility agriculture, went public this year, its poor performance caused its stock price to plummet continuously.

  Both have become landmark events of the "facility agriculture bubble burst", and in recent months, many people have expressed concerns about the development of facility agriculture, especially vertical agriculture.

  Although facility agriculture has received huge amounts of funds, after all, agriculture cannot use Silicon Valley’s “super-growth” model to measure its value. What it really needs is time and responsible, gradual, scaled expansion. Therefore, what follows will be a period of industry depression and correction.

  The disillusionment and the fading of the hype sound bad, but it is not a bad thing, and it may also mean an opportunity. The market tends to be more mature, with more honest valuations, healthier economic conditions, better facility planning and responsible growth plans. For investors, there will be a huge opportunity to enter those start-ups that are truly pursuing advancements in technology and efficiency.

7. The cost of cell culture meat has been drastically reduced, and no animal culture medium has become a reality

  This year may be a year of breakthroughs in cellular agriculture. The amount of public financing in the first quarter alone has exceeded the total of 2020, and the number of startups in this field has increased exponentially.

  It is worth mentioning that Future Meat Technologies, an Israeli cell culture meat startup, has now reduced the cost of its cell culture chicken breast products to US$7.70 per pound, while the cost price six months ago is still US$18 per pound. Although its products are mixed with plant protein ingredients, price parity is an important goal in the field of cell culture meat, so as to be accepted by more consumers.

  Future Meat Technologies announced this month that it has completed a new financing of US$347 million, led by agri-food giant ADM and Tyson Foods of the United States. This is the largest financing in the field of cell culture meat so far, and it is a powerful boost to the field.

  Another leader in cell culture meat, UPSIDE Foods, recently announced that it has developed a cell culture medium that is completely free of animal components and will use this medium to develop cell culture meat, which means that the cost of cell culture meat will be greatly reduced. Cost, and environmental footprint.

  At the same time, UPSIDE Foods' new production facility can produce 50,000 pounds of cell culture meat per year, and the capacity can be increased to 400,000 pounds over time. It can be said that the cell culture meat industry is waiting for countries to establish regulatory frameworks, and as costs decrease and production capacity increases, manufacturers including UPSIDE Foods, Future Meat Technologies, and GOOD Meat are ready to push their products to market.

8. "Plant meat" sales slowed down for the first time, investment hotspots to be evaluated

  By the end of this year, the sales of the entire plant meat market had fallen by 1.8% year-on-year; data around April showed that the drop in plant-based food categories had fallen by more than 15% year-on-year. It seems that product sales have declined in every channel, so that some industry leaders feel the pressure brought about by the decline in sales.

  The first to bear the brunt is the plant meat giant Beyond Meat, whose sales in the third quarter fell by 14% year-on-year and dragged down the stock price, while other plant meat producers said they would reassess this field. Many factors have contributed to the slowdown in sales of "plant meat" this year, including the disappearance of hype, insufficient consumer conversion, price and taste, and the improvement of the epidemic.

  The future plant meat market may be more turbulent, and the flow of risk funds into the plant meat market may slow down in the short term. However, Impossible Foods, another plant meat giant, has achieved record growth compared to a year ago. It is the fastest growing plant meat company in retail, surpassing the total of the other 9 plant meat companies in the top 10. A new round of financing of US$500 million was completed at the end of this year.

9. Downstream investment in agricultural and food science and technology is fierce, with 16 of the TOP20 largest financing

  Although in the investment data that has been disclosed this year, there have been significant breakthroughs in the upstream field of agri-food technology than in the past, the downstream investment in agri-food continues to be strong, occupying 16 seats in the TOP20 largest financing of the agri-food technology industry this year, mainly covering In the fields of fresh food e-commerce, food delivery services, shared kitchens and cold chain transportation.

  These companies include Furong Xingsheng (China, US$2 billion), Lineage Logistics (US, US$1.9 billion), Swiggy (India, US$1.25 billion), Gorillas (Germany, US$1 billion), Flink (Germany, US$750 million), Shihui Mission (China, US$750 million), Picnic (Netherlands, US$707 million), Dingdong Maicai (China, US$700 million), Trax (Singapore, US$640 million), Nuro (US, US$600 million), Getir (Turkey, 555 million U.S. dollars), Wolt (Finland, 530 million U.S. dollars), Glovo (Spain, 528 million U.S. dollars), Rappi (Colombia, 500 million U.S. dollars), Kitopi (United Arab Emirates, 415 million U.S. dollars), Dutchie (United States, 350 million U.S. dollars) Dollar).

  The global COVID-19 pandemic’s “persistence” has strengthened the industry’s investment in fresh food e-commerce, food delivery services, and cold chain transportation. At the same time, consumers’ behavior changes and their dependence on these services during the pandemic have led to The technology companies that belong to the downstream of agricultural food continue to be favored by investors.

10. Global consumers waste 931 million tons of food

  The Food Waste Index 2021 reveals the scale of global food waste through the latest comprehensive data, which is widespread across all continents, and regardless of the country's income level, household food waste is roughly similar.

  The new data broke our previous belief that consumer-level food waste mainly occurs in developed countries, while food loss and waste in developing countries occurs during food production and transportation. In fact, of the 931 million tons of food wasted at the consumer level in 2019, 61% came from households, 26% came from catering services, and 13% came from retail.

  The report shows that the severity of global food waste at the consumer level is more than double the previous estimate by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. However, so far, people have not fully understood the serious consequences of the food waste problem.

  This report not only simply highlights the shocking and frustrating data, but also supports the Sustainable Development Goals. Reducing food waste can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pollution, protect land and other resources, and make food more accessible around the world. At the same time, it means that the large market in the field of fighting food waste will require more innovative opportunities and technical solutions to support it.

  In the post-pandemic era, many industries and supply chains are deeply troubled by the new crown epidemic, and even collapsed, but the agricultural food technology industry has been able to buck the trend and maintain its upward momentum. This is inseparable from the rigid demand for agricultural food, and it is also regarded by professional investors as a dynamic and long-term growth investment field. According to public data estimates, the total investment in the field of agricultural food technology in 2021 may exceed 2020 and reach a record high.