“Greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, deforestation,” we all hear these words flooding our newspapers and television screens, we know the impact they are having on our ecosystem and our health, but do we know the true root of these environmental disasters?
Believe it or not, the way that we have been producing food since the industrial revolution is a major cause of our environmental deterioration. Agriculture is responsible for 75% of deforestation worldwide, and is the largest contributor of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. Our food production practices have caused substantial damage to our oceans, our land and our air. It has led to significant shifts in consumption and become a major contributor to obesity, heart disease and other food related diseases.
What’s more, is that with the expected population growth of 2.7 billion by 2020 and agricultural demands that will increase by 70%, our food production practices will continue to deplete and intoxicate our natural resources
In response to these alarming insights there has been a shift in consumer behavior and demand regarding food. Concerned consumers are demanding cleaner labels, a decrease in carbon footprint, and more alternative protein options.
To this end, companies such as Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek, are developing ways to produce viable meat replacements. Research in insect protein development are being spearheaded in Europe, with companies such as Protix are not only developing alternative insect proteins for animal feed and fertilizer, however they are working within organizations such as the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed to ensure that legislation is supporting safe and qualitative production of insects.
Innovations in agriculture are reducing the amount of resources we need to grow food, while consequently eliminating the need for the toxic chemicals we’ve poured into our soil. Leading technology in production is helping to ensure that our food is safer, while it keeps producers accountable.
Despite this crucial and necessary shift, investment is still lacking in the agrifood industry. According to Forbes, $12billion a year is invested in software technology, while $6.9billion is invested in agrifood. Which is a shame, considering that the return to shareholders of more than one hundred publicly traded Agri|Food companies increased by 17% from 2004 to 2013, compared to 10% for IT companies.
If we’re looking for proof that agrifood tech industry is only going to continue to grow and thrive, we simply need to look at the shift in CPG investment. Cargill recently invested in Memphis Meats, a company using stem cell technology to make tasty and affordable cultured meat and changed its entire meat department name to the “protein” department. Nestle acquired Sweet Earth Foods, a plant based meal and snack company. Tyson Foods bought a majority stake in Beyond Meat, another alternative protein producer. While Amazon, a company traditionally known for online commerce, acquired Whole Foods.
The number of funds are increasing as well to meet the pace at which technology is developing and to support these ventures. Chuck Templeton, the founder of Open Table recently started S2G ventures, providing $180 million to the fund to invest in food startups, New Crop Capital, Barilla started a food tech hub incubator by the name of Blu 1877, and new funds are developing each day. At Peak Bridge Ventures we plan to become one of the predominant agrifood investors in the world and in that quest we are seeking entrepreneurs, investors, and like minded people to help develop our vision to see a cleaner, more sustainable, and fortuitous future in food.