Photo credit: Switzerland Global Enterprise
The UN projects that the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion in 2050. Yet even at our current population level, food insecurity is rising across many nations already. From wheat shortages due to the conflict in Ukraine, to the risk of famine in South Sudan as a result of decades of intense flooding, the pressure on our food ecosystem is high. With more mouths to feed worldwide, how we farm, what technologies we use, and how efficiently food gets on our tables needs to evolve.
Luckily there is an entire field of research and innovation, called FoodTech, creating solutions and reimagining what we eat and how we grow our food. It’s made up of agrifood entrepreneurs and startups developing the products, distribution networks, and the marketing and business models of the world of food.
We met 5 of the top FoodTech startups at VivaTech 2022 who are shaping the future of food.
Photo credit: Innovafeed
Food chain, meet insects
French startup and VivaTech 2022 alumni Innovafeed has taken the insect farming industry by storm. They are now a global leader in insect-based proteins for animal and plant nutrition, recently completing a 250M euro fundraising round. Their mission is to put insects back at their natural place, in the food system and our food chains.
Through mass rearing insects in an industrial dense environment, Innovafeed produces millions of insects that are processed into protein for animal feed and plant fertilizers. Their Nesle site in the north of France is the world’s largest vertical insect farm.
Photo credit: Livegreen
Harnessing the power of spirulina
This funny sounding microalgae eats CO2, has more protein than meat, and grows without the need for fertilizers or soil. Spirulina is considered one of the most sustainable and healthy proteins in the world. With this in mind, Italian biotech startup Livegreen started research on the algae to harness its superpowers.
Livegreen engineered a growing process to keep the highest levels of protein, vitamins, minerals, and salts in the algae. From a vegan super protein and natural cosmetic coloring to bioplastics and air purifier, the end products made with spirulina are endless.
Photo credit: Tolbi
Saving water with AI
Senegalese startup Tolbi, is addressing local African agricultural issues. In many areas of Senegal, water is sparse. Yet farmers don’t necessarily know how much to water their crops, when to fertilize, or what the weather conditions are for the day or week.
Tolbi uses satellite images and AI in order to help farmers make decisions about their crops. With slim access to smartphones or the internet in Senegal, the startup created a call line in farmers’ local language where they can access this information and know just how much to water or fertilize.
With 75% of agricultural land in the world being farmed by individual families, it’s important that they have the right tools to be able to produce the most amount of food possible. Tolbi is continuing to fundraise and look for partnerships that will help expand their reach to more countries in Africa.
Photo credit: Biomede
Regenerating fields for better crops
In France, 80% of soils are polluted with heavy metals, such as copper, lead, chromium, or aluminum, which have accumulated for several decades. These polluted soils significantly slow the growth of plants, making them more vulnerable to bugs or disease and reducing the quality of production.
Biomede, a startup based in Ecully, France, researched a process called phytoremediation which regenerates soils and extracts unwanted pollutants from plants. They have adapted the process to help farmers get more out of their land. Biomede’s technology diagnoses the pollution levels in a plot of land, creates a seed mixture based on the findings, and when it’s time to harvest, retests the amounts of metals taken out of the soil. Several farms and vineyards have already used their technology, noticing a huge improvement in crop yield in the following years.
Photo credit: Agrosustain
Preserving crops in the field and fridge
Over one third of food produced in the world is lost or wasted every year. Be it from crops molding in the field before they are harvested or while being transported, or food going bad in consumers' kitchens before being eaten, the high rate of food waste continues to increase every year. Swiss startup, Agrosustain, has decided to fight against this global issue by creating two natural products that increase food life length.
The startup’s natural fungicides help to protect more than 1,000 different crops from molds that damage them while they are still in the field. They also have created a natural coating that extends the freshness of crops by more than 20 days once they’ve been harvested. Both of these products significantly reduce food waste and creates a more environment-friendly logistics chain. Long live our groceries!
A combat for tomorrow’s generation
Creating stable food ecosystems is not done overnight. While the need to innovate in the food industry increases, so does the need for talent and funding to reinforce these ecosystems. The next few years of FoodTech research and development will bring about the solutions we need to feed tomorrow’s generation and effectively combat food insecurity around the world.