👨‍🌾 What’s next for agriculture?

Each year, we map the evolution of the different FoodTech trends shaping the future of food. We are starting to work on 2023’s edition. We will release the first snippets in newsletters over the coming months.

In our last public edition, we identified five megatrends covering all the innovations disrupting our food system from farm to fork. Now, we have added a sixth one to account for the growing interest in the digitization of the food supply chain and new innovations around packaging. But today, we’ll focus on the first megatrend in agriculture, which we have called “the resilient farm”.

It has always been DigitalFoodLab’s conviction that AgTech is a key component of the FoodTech ecosystem, not a separate one. While upstream and downstream players are still very separated and often work in silos, disruptive innovation creates a growing convergence and integration in the farm-to-fork value chain.

Multiple trends are driving us toward a more sustainable and resilient farm: the growing appetite for locally grown foods, fewer farmers and workers, energy costs, climate change concerns, notably regarding arable land, and the convergence of technology and farming.

This megatrend is going in two very different directions:

  • The first is augmenting and making the current farm smarter and more automated.
  • The second is the space comprising urban, indoor, and next-generation farms. Let’s say that after years of preference for the latter, the former is retaking the lead in terms of hype, investments and acquisitions.

We have identified on the hype curve above six food disruptors that threaten the status quo of the way farming is done today:

🌽  Future crops and bio inputs that we have added as new disruptors. Before, they were mainly addressed either by large corporations with incremental innovation or researchers with promising but not actionable results.
Both areas are now seeing multiple new ventures being created and being well-funded due to the rise of the global concern around climate change (both the impact of food and the effect that the already happening changes are having on agriculture). The current energy crisis and rising fertiliser costs are also boosting them.

🐜  Insects used for animal feed are still “super hype” and attracting attention and money. We see them moving slightly toward some disillusionment as it appears that building factories takes much more time than anticipated, costs are not really going down (again due to the energy crisis), and the promise of this ecosystem is maybe less compelling than what it was a year ago.

🚜 We are moving farm robotics out of the disillusionment stage. After a couple of complicated years, many new companies are in this category, and investments are rising. Again this is linked to the two drivers of this megatrend: the need for more autonomous farms (a reduced pool of skilled workers) and sustainability (reducing the amounts of inputs).

🥬 Indoor farming is moving from hype to the pit of disillusion, as many startups are going bankrupt due to rising energy costs and concerns about their ability to reach profitability. We are confident that this space is not dead. It is just reinventing itself around new players with better value propositions.

💻 Finally, precision farming startups are still super interesting, even if this ecosystem is now less disruptive and quite well established. One of the new spaces innovators explored is artificial intelligence for putting the farm on autopilot.

This was just a snapshot of what’s happening in agriculture and how the resilient farm will help to shape the future of food. If you want to know more, either for a workshop or to see how these disruptions could create opportunities (and threats) for your business, contact us!

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