Welcome to a brand-new year and with it, fresh hope of glad tidings and a clean break from covid-19 (it’s got to happen sooner or later, right?).
What of the world of food and ag? What can we expect over the next 12 months?
Well, if we take a look at one of the biggest pieces of news to hit the headlines in the run-up to Christmas, cell-cultured meat could be in line for a big 2022.
Israeli start-up Future Meat closed a $347 million Series B on December 20, in a round co-led by ADM Ventures, with support from S2G Ventures and the $85 billion pension and insurance fund Menora Mivtachim.
The investment round now stands as the biggest secured by a cultured meat start-up. To put that figure further into context, those start-ups as a whole secured $366 million in 2020, according to the Good Food Institute.
A month earlier, in November, JBS made its entry into the space with a $100 million acquisition of Spanish start-up BioTech Foods, as it joined rival Tyson foods – which has invested in Upside Foods – in making a strategic cultured meat investment.
While cultured fish start-ups BlueNalu and Upside Foods were unable to close out 2021 with regulatory approval for their products, it’s expected to happen this year and will continue to drive the fledgling sector’s momentum.
Elsewhere, Asia and the Middle East’s goal of exerting more control over their food supply chains by investing in agtech geared towards local production systems cannot be overlooked. Singapore became the first country to approve cell-cultured meat for consumption in 2020 and has been creative in attracting private investments to the theme, while Temasek continues to prioritize the area.
Meanwhile, the Middle East has heavily backed vertical farming, plant-based meat, aquaculture and irrigation technologies as it seeks to establish a modern food production infrastructure, as the likes of Pure Salmon have been convinced to relocate to Abu Dhabi, while AeroFarms will receive support to build an 8,200-square-meter R&D facility in the emirate.
Other trends such as automation and robotics, as well as the need to reduce the global food sector’s carbon footprint, will remain hot topics and should continue to attract LP interest and move the industry forward.
Last but not least, of course, is the anticipated influx of investors drawn to the sector’s ability to ‘do good’ through things like generating carbon credits via regenerative farming, contributing to many of the UN’s SDGs and the impact investment benefits this comes with.
If the pace and breadth of investments into the sector can match the growing excitement over agtech’s ability to revolutionize food production and the industry can take big forward strides in reducing its carbon footprint, it should lead to a good 2022.