5 FoodTech Predictions in 2022: From farms of the future to the boom of mushrooms

5 FoodTech Predictions in 2022: From farms of the future to the boom of mushrooms

By
Sam Panzer
November 15, 2021

2022 FoodTech Trends, Pressures & Predictions

2022 is gearing up to be a transformational year for food innovation, with massive milestones for game-changing technologies like cultured meat and other low-footprint products hitting store shelves.

We asked the community to predict next year’s top trends, and investors & experts shared their takes on personalized nutrition, cultured meat booming (or busting), and mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. As commenters called out, there are a few major pressures facing our food system that will impact foodtech, presenting heaps of new opportunities even while making it harder to produce, ship, and sell food. 

So this week, we’re running down a few of the ‘macro’ trends in the broader economy, and highlighting a few trends we think are about to hit their stride to define 2022. 

👎 Pressures Facing FoodTech

First, let’s take a look at some of the macro pressures on food production. Even amidst strong investment activity (and overdue investment in female-founded startups), there’s turbulence ahead in 2022, including:

💩 Skyrocketing Fertilizer Prices: the soaring price of natural gas and nitrogen is fueling a massive leap in fertilizer prices –– meaning next year’s crop yields are set to plummet. Gas price increases has spiked cost of producing ammonia 10x, causing fertilizer prices to triple

🌡️ Climate Change Exposure: our planet is ever warmer and less stable, with more and more dramatic weather each year. That means more droughts, torrential rain, and other destabilizing events that can hurt production, like a nearly 2x jump in US wheat prices following a drought this spring. 

🚚  Increased Transportation Costs: even with container shipping prices beginning to ease, we’re still in a supply chain crunch. Truck drivers remain in shortage in the US and Europe, complicating transport at all stages of production.

😨 Consumer Sentiment is Low: despite higher pay and fewer pandemic restrictions, inflation is weighing heavily on consumers’ minds. In the US, consumer sentiment is the lowest since the start of the pandemic, while inflation expectations are the highest since 2008. 

Source: Bloomberg. University of Michigan

All of this is driving food prices up fast, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s price index rising by a whopping 31% from October 2020 to October 2021.

Source: FAO, Refinitiv

In 2022, food will be more expensive to grow, manufacture, and ship–– and at the same time, consumers are wary of paying more. But that upheaval also will nudge along some booming areas in foodtech, and hopefully leave us in a better place. Let’s take a look 👀


💡 5 FoodTech Trends to Watch:

🧫 1. Cell-Based Viability is (Almost) Here. 

Source: Upside Foods

We’re at an inflection point in the growth of cultured proteins. Proof points: this month’s grand opening of UPSIDE Foods’ production and innovation center ready to produce 50,000 pounds of cultured meat a year, or BIOMILQ’s $21M Series A investment to scale up lab-grown breastmilk production. Israel’s Future Meat Technologies is also planning a US plant in the next 1-2 years.

While cultured products still require expensive growth medium and various input products, they’ll be less exposed to jumps in staple crop prices than other alt-protein producers. That might help these products achieve price parity sooner than expected. 

Regulatory barriers remain, with cultured meats only approved in Singapore so far. In the US, cultured meat will require approval by both the USDA and FDA, but the United States is working to understand and support cultured products, including a recent $10M award to Tufts University to establish the National Institute for Cellular Agriculture. The EU is moving even slower, with approval still 18+ months away.

We still don’t think cultured meat will receive full approval in the USA in 2022, but we think we’ll close out the year with a few more green-lit countries (up next, Israel?) and production lines ready to get products into supermarkets in early 2023. 

In the meantime, vegan everything will continue to get even better, like bee-free honey from Melibio or fermented chocolate startup QOA.

🍎 2. Waste Reduction Startups Will Get a Boost.

One upside to increased food prices? It adds pressure on businesses to minimize their waste as much as possible. 

That’s good news for startups focusing on helping businesses reduce waste. We’ll see increased traction in a few key waste reduction spaces, like monitoring solutions (see Phood or Kitro), upcycled products (like Kaffe Bueno’s biorefinery or Mi Terro’s packaging made from agriculture waste), and dynamic pricing tools (e.g. Martie or Innoscentia) that help businesses optimize price to reduce waste.

🛍 3. Grocery Delivery is Hitting its Stride (& Consolidating)

Source: Gorillas

After a year of crazy growth and billions invested, grocery delivery is maturing, fast. The pandemic has boosted an already growing ecosystem and entrepreneurs have shifted their focus from meal delivery to groceries, notably with new retailers and quick-commerce startups.

Unicorns are scaling across the globe and a flock of restaurant delivery platforms are working to enter the space through acquisition, investment, or simply rolling out their own grocery delivery concept.

We’ll see more M&A activity here as well as the first IPOs & SPACs, which will prompt the sector to shift focus more towards profitability. The venture-backed new players are still keeping fees ultra-low (like Gorillas’ $1.80 delivery charge), while deliveries from Whole Foods, Kroger, and Wal-Mart are typically around $10

We also don’t know how the increase in food prices will impact this space. On one hand, adding an extra step in the supply chain between shelf and shopper adds price, but on the other, grocery delivery does not (yet) have pressure to minimize costs and achieve profitability. That might mean these platforms might be able to raise prices less than brick-and-mortar stores, helping them pull more customers to order by app.

🥬 4. The Farms (and Platforms) of the Future are Here.

Source: InFarm

With ever-increasing fertilizer and transportation prices, we’ll see more traction for efficient ways to grow food.

The growing desire for a shorter, more sustainable and resilient supply chain has only been accelerated by the pandemic. Entrepreneurs are working in three directions: making the farm smarter, inventing the crops of the future (notably to sustain the growth of alternative proteins) and creating the farm of the future.

That includes indoor farming leaders like Plenty, AeroFarms, Infarm, and Upward Farms, who are all helping grow food efficiently and as close to the consumer as possible. This has been a hot space for several year, and we expect to see a few more IPOs and SPACs as the big players get bigger.

Bugs will become big businesses 🐜. We expect next year’s insect inflection point will be in insects as animal feed, as other feed products jump in price following a fertilizer shortage (especially after the EU lifted a ban on insect feed for pigs and poultry). Expect big returns for France’s Ÿnsect and the UK’s Entocycle.

Finally, platforms connecting consumers with local producers will gain ever more traction. We aren’t yet sure how a fertilizer shortage will play out, but we’re hopeful that organic farming (which doesn’t use synthetic fertilizers) will prove resilient, if growing conditions are favorable. We’re looking to Switzerland’s Farmy, Dutch Crisp, and Spain’s Cortilia to show what’s possible (and profitable) in a local, tech-enabled food ag system.

🍄 5. The ‘Shroom Boom Continues

Source: Smallhold

Mushrooms are magic (and not just those mushrooms). They’re umami-rich and protein-packed, grow wicked fast with minimal inputs, and have a forest floor of industrial applications that are just starting to pop. We think these four fungi innovations will mature rapidly this year:

  • Novel Growing Methods: mushrooms can grow anywhere, and several companies (New York’s Smallhold) are helping home growers and businesses with ‘grow bags’ and other tools to nurture this delicious source of protein on-premise. 
  • Packaging: mycelium-based packaging will be cheap, foodsafe, and compostable, and made out of fungi virtually grown from thin air. It’s a slow space to scale, but we’re optimistic this year will see several mycelium-derived packaging companies achieve scale (and more traditional packaging companies will move into the space). Check out Ecovative Design for an early leader here scaling up on their $60M Series D from Q1.
  • Alt Protein & Ingredient Tech: mushrooms also have compelling potential as a meaty textural component of alt proteins, or as growth substrates for cultivated meats - see Mushlabs - and there's a growing number of startups using mycelium application for natural ingredient production - see Michroma.
  • Functional & Adaptogenics: already a strong niche sector, brands leveraging the health benefits of mushrooms will experience rapid growth –– partially thanks to Netflix’s new doc, Fantastic Fungi

💸 Bonus: FoodTech Funding Continues

The continued desire for on-demand everything and the steady push for sustainable foods, increased sustainability, alternative packaging solutions and more have all caught the eyes and wallets of eager investors around the globe.

Around $10.1 billion in venture capital has been invested into foodtech in Q3, bringing the year’s total to $28.8 billion—already up 85% over 2020.

But many predict this is just the beginning for funding in foodtech. The food system is undergoing a dramatic, systemic revamp, and this will require time (in the decades), talent, and significant capital.

We expect to see even more acceleration of capital into these markets, with participation from traditional VC's, family offices and establishments pouring into the foodtech sector, an uptick in retail investors coming through public markets and crowdfunding platforms and a whole load more of nano & micro VCs, syndicates and investment clubs in foodtech sprouting up.

📈 The Rocky Road to Progress

The world isn’t getting any simpler, but we’re optimistic the turbulence ahead will forge a more resilient foodtech landscape, and open up massive new opportunities for products that felt futuristic a few short months ago. 

There’s a lot else we’re keeping an eye on for 2022 –– precision farming, personalized nutrition, cloud kitchens, to name a few –– and rest assured, we’ll cover much of this in the coming weeks. 

But I expect these five topics (cell-based products, waste reduction, grocery delivery, future farming and mushrooms) will be the mega-stories for next year, with strong technical and financial validation, ample hype, and a resiliency to some of the headwinds facing food production.

Think we’re missing the next big thing? Hit reply to let us know, and we’ll work to cover it in the buildup to 2022. And if you enjoyed todays read - share it with a friend.


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2022 FoodTech Trends, Pressures & Predictions

2022 is gearing up to be a transformational year for food innovation, with massive milestones for game-changing technologies like cultured meat and other low-footprint products hitting store shelves.

We asked the community to predict next year’s top trends, and investors & experts shared their takes on personalized nutrition, cultured meat booming (or busting), and mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. As commenters called out, there are a few major pressures facing our food system that will impact foodtech, presenting heaps of new opportunities even while making it harder to produce, ship, and sell food. 

So this week, we’re running down a few of the ‘macro’ trends in the broader economy, and highlighting a few trends we think are about to hit their stride to define 2022. 

👎 Pressures Facing FoodTech

First, let’s take a look at some of the macro pressures on food production. Even amidst strong investment activity (and overdue investment in female-founded startups), there’s turbulence ahead in 2022, including:

💩 Skyrocketing Fertilizer Prices: the soaring price of natural gas and nitrogen is fueling a massive leap in fertilizer prices –– meaning next year’s crop yields are set to plummet. Gas price increases has spiked cost of producing ammonia 10x, causing fertilizer prices to triple

🌡️ Climate Change Exposure: our planet is ever warmer and less stable, with more and more dramatic weather each year. That means more droughts, torrential rain, and other destabilizing events that can hurt production, like a nearly 2x jump in US wheat prices following a drought this spring. 

🚚  Increased Transportation Costs: even with container shipping prices beginning to ease, we’re still in a supply chain crunch. Truck drivers remain in shortage in the US and Europe, complicating transport at all stages of production.

😨 Consumer Sentiment is Low: despite higher pay and fewer pandemic restrictions, inflation is weighing heavily on consumers’ minds. In the US, consumer sentiment is the lowest since the start of the pandemic, while inflation expectations are the highest since 2008. 

Source: Bloomberg. University of Michigan

All of this is driving food prices up fast, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s price index rising by a whopping 31% from October 2020 to October 2021.

Source: FAO, Refinitiv

In 2022, food will be more expensive to grow, manufacture, and ship–– and at the same time, consumers are wary of paying more. But that upheaval also will nudge along some booming areas in foodtech, and hopefully leave us in a better place. Let’s take a look 👀


💡 5 FoodTech Trends to Watch:

🧫 1. Cell-Based Viability is (Almost) Here. 

Source: Upside Foods

We’re at an inflection point in the growth of cultured proteins. Proof points: this month’s grand opening of UPSIDE Foods’ production and innovation center ready to produce 50,000 pounds of cultured meat a year, or BIOMILQ’s $21M Series A investment to scale up lab-grown breastmilk production. Israel’s Future Meat Technologies is also planning a US plant in the next 1-2 years.

While cultured products still require expensive growth medium and various input products, they’ll be less exposed to jumps in staple crop prices than other alt-protein producers. That might help these products achieve price parity sooner than expected. 

Regulatory barriers remain, with cultured meats only approved in Singapore so far. In the US, cultured meat will require approval by both the USDA and FDA, but the United States is working to understand and support cultured products, including a recent $10M award to Tufts University to establish the National Institute for Cellular Agriculture. The EU is moving even slower, with approval still 18+ months away.

We still don’t think cultured meat will receive full approval in the USA in 2022, but we think we’ll close out the year with a few more green-lit countries (up next, Israel?) and production lines ready to get products into supermarkets in early 2023. 

In the meantime, vegan everything will continue to get even better, like bee-free honey from Melibio or fermented chocolate startup QOA.

🍎 2. Waste Reduction Startups Will Get a Boost.

One upside to increased food prices? It adds pressure on businesses to minimize their waste as much as possible. 

That’s good news for startups focusing on helping businesses reduce waste. We’ll see increased traction in a few key waste reduction spaces, like monitoring solutions (see Phood or Kitro), upcycled products (like Kaffe Bueno’s biorefinery or Mi Terro’s packaging made from agriculture waste), and dynamic pricing tools (e.g. Martie or Innoscentia) that help businesses optimize price to reduce waste.

🛍 3. Grocery Delivery is Hitting its Stride (& Consolidating)

Source: Gorillas

After a year of crazy growth and billions invested, grocery delivery is maturing, fast. The pandemic has boosted an already growing ecosystem and entrepreneurs have shifted their focus from meal delivery to groceries, notably with new retailers and quick-commerce startups.

Unicorns are scaling across the globe and a flock of restaurant delivery platforms are working to enter the space through acquisition, investment, or simply rolling out their own grocery delivery concept.

We’ll see more M&A activity here as well as the first IPOs & SPACs, which will prompt the sector to shift focus more towards profitability. The venture-backed new players are still keeping fees ultra-low (like Gorillas’ $1.80 delivery charge), while deliveries from Whole Foods, Kroger, and Wal-Mart are typically around $10

We also don’t know how the increase in food prices will impact this space. On one hand, adding an extra step in the supply chain between shelf and shopper adds price, but on the other, grocery delivery does not (yet) have pressure to minimize costs and achieve profitability. That might mean these platforms might be able to raise prices less than brick-and-mortar stores, helping them pull more customers to order by app.

🥬 4. The Farms (and Platforms) of the Future are Here.

Source: InFarm

With ever-increasing fertilizer and transportation prices, we’ll see more traction for efficient ways to grow food.

The growing desire for a shorter, more sustainable and resilient supply chain has only been accelerated by the pandemic. Entrepreneurs are working in three directions: making the farm smarter, inventing the crops of the future (notably to sustain the growth of alternative proteins) and creating the farm of the future.

That includes indoor farming leaders like Plenty, AeroFarms, Infarm, and Upward Farms, who are all helping grow food efficiently and as close to the consumer as possible. This has been a hot space for several year, and we expect to see a few more IPOs and SPACs as the big players get bigger.

Bugs will become big businesses 🐜. We expect next year’s insect inflection point will be in insects as animal feed, as other feed products jump in price following a fertilizer shortage (especially after the EU lifted a ban on insect feed for pigs and poultry). Expect big returns for France’s Ÿnsect and the UK’s Entocycle.

Finally, platforms connecting consumers with local producers will gain ever more traction. We aren’t yet sure how a fertilizer shortage will play out, but we’re hopeful that organic farming (which doesn’t use synthetic fertilizers) will prove resilient, if growing conditions are favorable. We’re looking to Switzerland’s Farmy, Dutch Crisp, and Spain’s Cortilia to show what’s possible (and profitable) in a local, tech-enabled food ag system.

🍄 5. The ‘Shroom Boom Continues

Source: Smallhold

Mushrooms are magic (and not just those mushrooms). They’re umami-rich and protein-packed, grow wicked fast with minimal inputs, and have a forest floor of industrial applications that are just starting to pop. We think these four fungi innovations will mature rapidly this year:

  • Novel Growing Methods: mushrooms can grow anywhere, and several companies (New York’s Smallhold) are helping home growers and businesses with ‘grow bags’ and other tools to nurture this delicious source of protein on-premise. 
  • Packaging: mycelium-based packaging will be cheap, foodsafe, and compostable, and made out of fungi virtually grown from thin air. It’s a slow space to scale, but we’re optimistic this year will see several mycelium-derived packaging companies achieve scale (and more traditional packaging companies will move into the space). Check out Ecovative Design for an early leader here scaling up on their $60M Series D from Q1.
  • Alt Protein & Ingredient Tech: mushrooms also have compelling potential as a meaty textural component of alt proteins, or as growth substrates for cultivated meats - see Mushlabs - and there's a growing number of startups using mycelium application for natural ingredient production - see Michroma.
  • Functional & Adaptogenics: already a strong niche sector, brands leveraging the health benefits of mushrooms will experience rapid growth –– partially thanks to Netflix’s new doc, Fantastic Fungi

💸 Bonus: FoodTech Funding Continues

The continued desire for on-demand everything and the steady push for sustainable foods, increased sustainability, alternative packaging solutions and more have all caught the eyes and wallets of eager investors around the globe.

Around $10.1 billion in venture capital has been invested into foodtech in Q3, bringing the year’s total to $28.8 billion—already up 85% over 2020.

But many predict this is just the beginning for funding in foodtech. The food system is undergoing a dramatic, systemic revamp, and this will require time (in the decades), talent, and significant capital.

We expect to see even more acceleration of capital into these markets, with participation from traditional VC's, family offices and establishments pouring into the foodtech sector, an uptick in retail investors coming through public markets and crowdfunding platforms and a whole load more of nano & micro VCs, syndicates and investment clubs in foodtech sprouting up.

📈 The Rocky Road to Progress

The world isn’t getting any simpler, but we’re optimistic the turbulence ahead will forge a more resilient foodtech landscape, and open up massive new opportunities for products that felt futuristic a few short months ago. 

There’s a lot else we’re keeping an eye on for 2022 –– precision farming, personalized nutrition, cloud kitchens, to name a few –– and rest assured, we’ll cover much of this in the coming weeks. 

But I expect these five topics (cell-based products, waste reduction, grocery delivery, future farming and mushrooms) will be the mega-stories for next year, with strong technical and financial validation, ample hype, and a resiliency to some of the headwinds facing food production.

Think we’re missing the next big thing? Hit reply to let us know, and we’ll work to cover it in the buildup to 2022. And if you enjoyed todays read - share it with a friend.


This is a web version of FoodHack's 'This Week In Food' newsletter. Sign up here to receive the next edition to your inbox.

2022 FoodTech Trends, Pressures & Predictions

2022 is gearing up to be a transformational year for food innovation, with massive milestones for game-changing technologies like cultured meat and other low-footprint products hitting store shelves.

We asked the community to predict next year’s top trends, and investors & experts shared their takes on personalized nutrition, cultured meat booming (or busting), and mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. As commenters called out, there are a few major pressures facing our food system that will impact foodtech, presenting heaps of new opportunities even while making it harder to produce, ship, and sell food. 

So this week, we’re running down a few of the ‘macro’ trends in the broader economy, and highlighting a few trends we think are about to hit their stride to define 2022. 

👎 Pressures Facing FoodTech

First, let’s take a look at some of the macro pressures on food production. Even amidst strong investment activity (and overdue investment in female-founded startups), there’s turbulence ahead in 2022, including:

💩 Skyrocketing Fertilizer Prices: the soaring price of natural gas and nitrogen is fueling a massive leap in fertilizer prices –– meaning next year’s crop yields are set to plummet. Gas price increases has spiked cost of producing ammonia 10x, causing fertilizer prices to triple

🌡️ Climate Change Exposure: our planet is ever warmer and less stable, with more and more dramatic weather each year. That means more droughts, torrential rain, and other destabilizing events that can hurt production, like a nearly 2x jump in US wheat prices following a drought this spring. 

🚚  Increased Transportation Costs: even with container shipping prices beginning to ease, we’re still in a supply chain crunch. Truck drivers remain in shortage in the US and Europe, complicating transport at all stages of production.

😨 Consumer Sentiment is Low: despite higher pay and fewer pandemic restrictions, inflation is weighing heavily on consumers’ minds. In the US, consumer sentiment is the lowest since the start of the pandemic, while inflation expectations are the highest since 2008. 

Source: Bloomberg. University of Michigan

All of this is driving food prices up fast, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s price index rising by a whopping 31% from October 2020 to October 2021.

Source: FAO, Refinitiv

In 2022, food will be more expensive to grow, manufacture, and ship–– and at the same time, consumers are wary of paying more. But that upheaval also will nudge along some booming areas in foodtech, and hopefully leave us in a better place. Let’s take a look 👀


💡 5 FoodTech Trends to Watch:

🧫 1. Cell-Based Viability is (Almost) Here. 

Source: Upside Foods

We’re at an inflection point in the growth of cultured proteins. Proof points: this month’s grand opening of UPSIDE Foods’ production and innovation center ready to produce 50,000 pounds of cultured meat a year, or BIOMILQ’s $21M Series A investment to scale up lab-grown breastmilk production. Israel’s Future Meat Technologies is also planning a US plant in the next 1-2 years.

While cultured products still require expensive growth medium and various input products, they’ll be less exposed to jumps in staple crop prices than other alt-protein producers. That might help these products achieve price parity sooner than expected. 

Regulatory barriers remain, with cultured meats only approved in Singapore so far. In the US, cultured meat will require approval by both the USDA and FDA, but the United States is working to understand and support cultured products, including a recent $10M award to Tufts University to establish the National Institute for Cellular Agriculture. The EU is moving even slower, with approval still 18+ months away.

We still don’t think cultured meat will receive full approval in the USA in 2022, but we think we’ll close out the year with a few more green-lit countries (up next, Israel?) and production lines ready to get products into supermarkets in early 2023. 

In the meantime, vegan everything will continue to get even better, like bee-free honey from Melibio or fermented chocolate startup QOA.

🍎 2. Waste Reduction Startups Will Get a Boost.

One upside to increased food prices? It adds pressure on businesses to minimize their waste as much as possible. 

That’s good news for startups focusing on helping businesses reduce waste. We’ll see increased traction in a few key waste reduction spaces, like monitoring solutions (see Phood or Kitro), upcycled products (like Kaffe Bueno’s biorefinery or Mi Terro’s packaging made from agriculture waste), and dynamic pricing tools (e.g. Martie or Innoscentia) that help businesses optimize price to reduce waste.

🛍 3. Grocery Delivery is Hitting its Stride (& Consolidating)

Source: Gorillas

After a year of crazy growth and billions invested, grocery delivery is maturing, fast. The pandemic has boosted an already growing ecosystem and entrepreneurs have shifted their focus from meal delivery to groceries, notably with new retailers and quick-commerce startups.

Unicorns are scaling across the globe and a flock of restaurant delivery platforms are working to enter the space through acquisition, investment, or simply rolling out their own grocery delivery concept.

We’ll see more M&A activity here as well as the first IPOs & SPACs, which will prompt the sector to shift focus more towards profitability. The venture-backed new players are still keeping fees ultra-low (like Gorillas’ $1.80 delivery charge), while deliveries from Whole Foods, Kroger, and Wal-Mart are typically around $10

We also don’t know how the increase in food prices will impact this space. On one hand, adding an extra step in the supply chain between shelf and shopper adds price, but on the other, grocery delivery does not (yet) have pressure to minimize costs and achieve profitability. That might mean these platforms might be able to raise prices less than brick-and-mortar stores, helping them pull more customers to order by app.

🥬 4. The Farms (and Platforms) of the Future are Here.

Source: InFarm

With ever-increasing fertilizer and transportation prices, we’ll see more traction for efficient ways to grow food.

The growing desire for a shorter, more sustainable and resilient supply chain has only been accelerated by the pandemic. Entrepreneurs are working in three directions: making the farm smarter, inventing the crops of the future (notably to sustain the growth of alternative proteins) and creating the farm of the future.

That includes indoor farming leaders like Plenty, AeroFarms, Infarm, and Upward Farms, who are all helping grow food efficiently and as close to the consumer as possible. This has been a hot space for several year, and we expect to see a few more IPOs and SPACs as the big players get bigger.

Bugs will become big businesses 🐜. We expect next year’s insect inflection point will be in insects as animal feed, as other feed products jump in price following a fertilizer shortage (especially after the EU lifted a ban on insect feed for pigs and poultry). Expect big returns for France’s Ÿnsect and the UK’s Entocycle.

Finally, platforms connecting consumers with local producers will gain ever more traction. We aren’t yet sure how a fertilizer shortage will play out, but we’re hopeful that organic farming (which doesn’t use synthetic fertilizers) will prove resilient, if growing conditions are favorable. We’re looking to Switzerland’s Farmy, Dutch Crisp, and Spain’s Cortilia to show what’s possible (and profitable) in a local, tech-enabled food ag system.

🍄 5. The ‘Shroom Boom Continues

Source: Smallhold

Mushrooms are magic (and not just those mushrooms). They’re umami-rich and protein-packed, grow wicked fast with minimal inputs, and have a forest floor of industrial applications that are just starting to pop. We think these four fungi innovations will mature rapidly this year:

  • Novel Growing Methods: mushrooms can grow anywhere, and several companies (New York’s Smallhold) are helping home growers and businesses with ‘grow bags’ and other tools to nurture this delicious source of protein on-premise. 
  • Packaging: mycelium-based packaging will be cheap, foodsafe, and compostable, and made out of fungi virtually grown from thin air. It’s a slow space to scale, but we’re optimistic this year will see several mycelium-derived packaging companies achieve scale (and more traditional packaging companies will move into the space). Check out Ecovative Design for an early leader here scaling up on their $60M Series D from Q1.
  • Alt Protein & Ingredient Tech: mushrooms also have compelling potential as a meaty textural component of alt proteins, or as growth substrates for cultivated meats - see Mushlabs - and there's a growing number of startups using mycelium application for natural ingredient production - see Michroma.
  • Functional & Adaptogenics: already a strong niche sector, brands leveraging the health benefits of mushrooms will experience rapid growth –– partially thanks to Netflix’s new doc, Fantastic Fungi

💸 Bonus: FoodTech Funding Continues

The continued desire for on-demand everything and the steady push for sustainable foods, increased sustainability, alternative packaging solutions and more have all caught the eyes and wallets of eager investors around the globe.

Around $10.1 billion in venture capital has been invested into foodtech in Q3, bringing the year’s total to $28.8 billion—already up 85% over 2020.

But many predict this is just the beginning for funding in foodtech. The food system is undergoing a dramatic, systemic revamp, and this will require time (in the decades), talent, and significant capital.

We expect to see even more acceleration of capital into these markets, with participation from traditional VC's, family offices and establishments pouring into the foodtech sector, an uptick in retail investors coming through public markets and crowdfunding platforms and a whole load more of nano & micro VCs, syndicates and investment clubs in foodtech sprouting up.

📈 The Rocky Road to Progress

The world isn’t getting any simpler, but we’re optimistic the turbulence ahead will forge a more resilient foodtech landscape, and open up massive new opportunities for products that felt futuristic a few short months ago. 

There’s a lot else we’re keeping an eye on for 2022 –– precision farming, personalized nutrition, cloud kitchens, to name a few –– and rest assured, we’ll cover much of this in the coming weeks. 

But I expect these five topics (cell-based products, waste reduction, grocery delivery, future farming and mushrooms) will be the mega-stories for next year, with strong technical and financial validation, ample hype, and a resiliency to some of the headwinds facing food production.

Think we’re missing the next big thing? Hit reply to let us know, and we’ll work to cover it in the buildup to 2022. And if you enjoyed todays read - share it with a friend.


This is a web version of FoodHack's 'This Week In Food' newsletter. Sign up here to receive the next edition to your inbox.

2022 FoodTech Trends, Pressures & Predictions

2022 is gearing up to be a transformational year for food innovation, with massive milestones for game-changing technologies like cultured meat and other low-footprint products hitting store shelves.

We asked the community to predict next year’s top trends, and investors & experts shared their takes on personalized nutrition, cultured meat booming (or busting), and mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. As commenters called out, there are a few major pressures facing our food system that will impact foodtech, presenting heaps of new opportunities even while making it harder to produce, ship, and sell food. 

So this week, we’re running down a few of the ‘macro’ trends in the broader economy, and highlighting a few trends we think are about to hit their stride to define 2022. 

👎 Pressures Facing FoodTech

First, let’s take a look at some of the macro pressures on food production. Even amidst strong investment activity (and overdue investment in female-founded startups), there’s turbulence ahead in 2022, including:

💩 Skyrocketing Fertilizer Prices: the soaring price of natural gas and nitrogen is fueling a massive leap in fertilizer prices –– meaning next year’s crop yields are set to plummet. Gas price increases has spiked cost of producing ammonia 10x, causing fertilizer prices to triple

🌡️ Climate Change Exposure: our planet is ever warmer and less stable, with more and more dramatic weather each year. That means more droughts, torrential rain, and other destabilizing events that can hurt production, like a nearly 2x jump in US wheat prices following a drought this spring. 

🚚  Increased Transportation Costs: even with container shipping prices beginning to ease, we’re still in a supply chain crunch. Truck drivers remain in shortage in the US and Europe, complicating transport at all stages of production.

😨 Consumer Sentiment is Low: despite higher pay and fewer pandemic restrictions, inflation is weighing heavily on consumers’ minds. In the US, consumer sentiment is the lowest since the start of the pandemic, while inflation expectations are the highest since 2008. 

Source: Bloomberg. University of Michigan

All of this is driving food prices up fast, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s price index rising by a whopping 31% from October 2020 to October 2021.

Source: FAO, Refinitiv

In 2022, food will be more expensive to grow, manufacture, and ship–– and at the same time, consumers are wary of paying more. But that upheaval also will nudge along some booming areas in foodtech, and hopefully leave us in a better place. Let’s take a look 👀


💡 5 FoodTech Trends to Watch:

🧫 1. Cell-Based Viability is (Almost) Here. 

Source: Upside Foods

We’re at an inflection point in the growth of cultured proteins. Proof points: this month’s grand opening of UPSIDE Foods’ production and innovation center ready to produce 50,000 pounds of cultured meat a year, or BIOMILQ’s $21M Series A investment to scale up lab-grown breastmilk production. Israel’s Future Meat Technologies is also planning a US plant in the next 1-2 years.

While cultured products still require expensive growth medium and various input products, they’ll be less exposed to jumps in staple crop prices than other alt-protein producers. That might help these products achieve price parity sooner than expected. 

Regulatory barriers remain, with cultured meats only approved in Singapore so far. In the US, cultured meat will require approval by both the USDA and FDA, but the United States is working to understand and support cultured products, including a recent $10M award to Tufts University to establish the National Institute for Cellular Agriculture. The EU is moving even slower, with approval still 18+ months away.

We still don’t think cultured meat will receive full approval in the USA in 2022, but we think we’ll close out the year with a few more green-lit countries (up next, Israel?) and production lines ready to get products into supermarkets in early 2023. 

In the meantime, vegan everything will continue to get even better, like bee-free honey from Melibio or fermented chocolate startup QOA.

🍎 2. Waste Reduction Startups Will Get a Boost.

One upside to increased food prices? It adds pressure on businesses to minimize their waste as much as possible. 

That’s good news for startups focusing on helping businesses reduce waste. We’ll see increased traction in a few key waste reduction spaces, like monitoring solutions (see Phood or Kitro), upcycled products (like Kaffe Bueno’s biorefinery or Mi Terro’s packaging made from agriculture waste), and dynamic pricing tools (e.g. Martie or Innoscentia) that help businesses optimize price to reduce waste.

🛍 3. Grocery Delivery is Hitting its Stride (& Consolidating)

Source: Gorillas

After a year of crazy growth and billions invested, grocery delivery is maturing, fast. The pandemic has boosted an already growing ecosystem and entrepreneurs have shifted their focus from meal delivery to groceries, notably with new retailers and quick-commerce startups.

Unicorns are scaling across the globe and a flock of restaurant delivery platforms are working to enter the space through acquisition, investment, or simply rolling out their own grocery delivery concept.

We’ll see more M&A activity here as well as the first IPOs & SPACs, which will prompt the sector to shift focus more towards profitability. The venture-backed new players are still keeping fees ultra-low (like Gorillas’ $1.80 delivery charge), while deliveries from Whole Foods, Kroger, and Wal-Mart are typically around $10

We also don’t know how the increase in food prices will impact this space. On one hand, adding an extra step in the supply chain between shelf and shopper adds price, but on the other, grocery delivery does not (yet) have pressure to minimize costs and achieve profitability. That might mean these platforms might be able to raise prices less than brick-and-mortar stores, helping them pull more customers to order by app.

🥬 4. The Farms (and Platforms) of the Future are Here.

Source: InFarm

With ever-increasing fertilizer and transportation prices, we’ll see more traction for efficient ways to grow food.

The growing desire for a shorter, more sustainable and resilient supply chain has only been accelerated by the pandemic. Entrepreneurs are working in three directions: making the farm smarter, inventing the crops of the future (notably to sustain the growth of alternative proteins) and creating the farm of the future.

That includes indoor farming leaders like Plenty, AeroFarms, Infarm, and Upward Farms, who are all helping grow food efficiently and as close to the consumer as possible. This has been a hot space for several year, and we expect to see a few more IPOs and SPACs as the big players get bigger.

Bugs will become big businesses 🐜. We expect next year’s insect inflection point will be in insects as animal feed, as other feed products jump in price following a fertilizer shortage (especially after the EU lifted a ban on insect feed for pigs and poultry). Expect big returns for France’s Ÿnsect and the UK’s Entocycle.

Finally, platforms connecting consumers with local producers will gain ever more traction. We aren’t yet sure how a fertilizer shortage will play out, but we’re hopeful that organic farming (which doesn’t use synthetic fertilizers) will prove resilient, if growing conditions are favorable. We’re looking to Switzerland’s Farmy, Dutch Crisp, and Spain’s Cortilia to show what’s possible (and profitable) in a local, tech-enabled food ag system.

🍄 5. The ‘Shroom Boom Continues

Source: Smallhold

Mushrooms are magic (and not just those mushrooms). They’re umami-rich and protein-packed, grow wicked fast with minimal inputs, and have a forest floor of industrial applications that are just starting to pop. We think these four fungi innovations will mature rapidly this year:

  • Novel Growing Methods: mushrooms can grow anywhere, and several companies (New York’s Smallhold) are helping home growers and businesses with ‘grow bags’ and other tools to nurture this delicious source of protein on-premise. 
  • Packaging: mycelium-based packaging will be cheap, foodsafe, and compostable, and made out of fungi virtually grown from thin air. It’s a slow space to scale, but we’re optimistic this year will see several mycelium-derived packaging companies achieve scale (and more traditional packaging companies will move into the space). Check out Ecovative Design for an early leader here scaling up on their $60M Series D from Q1.
  • Alt Protein & Ingredient Tech: mushrooms also have compelling potential as a meaty textural component of alt proteins, or as growth substrates for cultivated meats - see Mushlabs - and there's a growing number of startups using mycelium application for natural ingredient production - see Michroma.
  • Functional & Adaptogenics: already a strong niche sector, brands leveraging the health benefits of mushrooms will experience rapid growth –– partially thanks to Netflix’s new doc, Fantastic Fungi

💸 Bonus: FoodTech Funding Continues

The continued desire for on-demand everything and the steady push for sustainable foods, increased sustainability, alternative packaging solutions and more have all caught the eyes and wallets of eager investors around the globe.

Around $10.1 billion in venture capital has been invested into foodtech in Q3, bringing the year’s total to $28.8 billion—already up 85% over 2020.

But many predict this is just the beginning for funding in foodtech. The food system is undergoing a dramatic, systemic revamp, and this will require time (in the decades), talent, and significant capital.

We expect to see even more acceleration of capital into these markets, with participation from traditional VC's, family offices and establishments pouring into the foodtech sector, an uptick in retail investors coming through public markets and crowdfunding platforms and a whole load more of nano & micro VCs, syndicates and investment clubs in foodtech sprouting up.

📈 The Rocky Road to Progress

The world isn’t getting any simpler, but we’re optimistic the turbulence ahead will forge a more resilient foodtech landscape, and open up massive new opportunities for products that felt futuristic a few short months ago. 

There’s a lot else we’re keeping an eye on for 2022 –– precision farming, personalized nutrition, cloud kitchens, to name a few –– and rest assured, we’ll cover much of this in the coming weeks. 

But I expect these five topics (cell-based products, waste reduction, grocery delivery, future farming and mushrooms) will be the mega-stories for next year, with strong technical and financial validation, ample hype, and a resiliency to some of the headwinds facing food production.

Think we’re missing the next big thing? Hit reply to let us know, and we’ll work to cover it in the buildup to 2022. And if you enjoyed todays read - share it with a friend.


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