Forbes Agtech Event – A view on the Future of Food from Main Street Salinas


Chris Sworder
Recently,  I attended Forbes Agtech Event in Salinas and joined over 500 entrepreneurs, investors, farmers, and others to take a look at the next wave of agtech innovation. There were several underlying trends that stood out for me after I spoke to entrepreneurs to learn more about innovation in automation, food safety, supply chain complexity, and of course … water. Last but not least were solutions enhancing nature’s most efficient pollinators: bees.Automation Even with 90% of large farm machinery having... Read More »

Agtech, Insect Farming and the Future of Efficiency: An Interview with Ÿnsect’s Co-Founder


Chris Sworder
Today, the main goal of insect farming is to develop a product to replace fishmeal as an ingredient in fish feed. Fishmeal currently has a global production of three to four million tons and was worth $6.3 billion in 2017. Eventually, insect farmers want to compete in the pet food ($91 billion) and even animal feed ($400 billion) markets. Business specifics Rather than building, owning and operating each insect farm, a licencing model is possible. Insect farming is highly automated... Read More »

Food Delivery Services: the Challenges of Getting Food to your Front Door


Chris Sworder
Direct to consumer (D2C) delivery models have disrupted consumer product industries from books and electronics to retail stores, web services and increasingly food. Online sales of food and beverage growing at 19% year-on-year, making it one of the top five fastest growing online sales sectors in the US. The market size equates to $17.5 billion in 2018 and is expected to rise to $30 billion by 2021. Peapod and Ocado - online food delivery is older than Amazon There are examples of... Read More »

Standout Fundraising Achievement of the Year 2019 awarded to Agtech company


Chris Sworder
Ÿnsect, a company that breeds insects for feed and non-food applications was awarded the Fundraising Achievement of the Year 2019 for Europe and Israel. Co-Founder, Alexis Angot, was at the recent Cleantech Forum Europe in Stockholm to collect the award following the impressive $125 million Series C the company announced in February, raised from investors including Astanor Ventures, Demeter, Quadia, Talis Capital, Idinvest Partners, Credit Agricole Brie Picardie, Caisse d'Epargne, Picardie Investissement, Finasucre, Compagnie du Bois Sauvage, Happiness Capital, VisVires... Read More »

Are Indoor Agriculture and Vertical Farming Growing up?


Chris Sworder
Urban agriculture and vertical farming, are they viable? There are question marks on efficiency, availability of useful and reasonably priced real estate, and demand for the leafy greens and herbs that are most often the crop of choice. That said, there are several high-profile companies in the U.S. that have been around for several years, e.g. AeroFarms, Plenty, and Bowery, which have raised at total of  over $400M. Alongside these farm developers, we are seeing more indoor agriculture-specific technology (see iUNU’s... Read More »

Innovation in Logistics: From a Supply Chain to a Demand Chain


Chris Sworder
A massive industry rife with inefficiency, short on data and long on GHG emissions, global logistics represents opportunities for innovation to power it toward a more digitized, de-carbonized and resource-efficient future. Last week Cleantech Group, along with Silicon Valley Bank and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, hosted a Power Breakfast to explore key innovations in the logistics industry. Our speakers included: John Urban, Co-Founder and Former President, GT Nexus Kelly Chen, Principal, Data Collective Earnest Sweat, Investment Manager, Prologis Ventures... Read More »

Food News: Motif Ingredients – Microbes to Meat, the Race is on…


Chris Sworder
The news about Ginkgo Bioworks spinning out Motif Ingredients signals an acceleration in the race to create an alternative meat. Plant-based meat has opened the door to consumer acceptance. Now the challenges are overcoming production bottlenecks and improving the taste, feel and versatility of the products. With $90 million of fresh capital, an impressive set of investors and a pedigree from Ginkgo Bioworks, the race is on. Spotlight on burgers Plant-based burgers are making the news, with the latest offerings including the UAE-based... Read More »

Meat Alternatives on the Move


Chris Sworder
An FAO estimation says we are on track for a 9 billion-person planet by 2050, and along with the people comes a 50% increased appetite for protein. Traditional protein for human consumption comes from animals and fish, with soy increasingly part of the landscape. The non-traditional or alternative proteins market ($4.2 billion in 2016) is around 1% of the traditional protein market, but is expected to grow more than 25% by 2022. The drivers are both perceived health benefits and... Read More »

Food Safety: From Problems to Opportunities


Chris Sworder
Anyone growing, selling or eating food in the US could not have missed what seems like a growing number of recent pathogen outbreaks. There have been two outbreaks of E. coli in romaine lettuce. A cyclosporiasis outbreak was linked back to a McDonald’s restaurant. A badly timed salmonella outbreak affected Thanksgiving turkey products while another salmonella outbreak in ground beef led to the largest food recall in US history as over 12 million pounds were recalled before Christmas. However, despite... Read More »

Fixing Food Waste with Packaging Innovation


Chris Sworder
Only two-thirds of food grown makes it to the consumer, at which point up to half of what’s left goes to waste. Innovation in food packaging is an effective way to tackle food waste, as extending shelf life of a product reduces waste throughout the supply chain. We spoke to two innovative companies to understand more about the market: Apeel Sciences and Food Freshness Technology. We discovered that there are three significant drivers for innovation in packaging. The first is reducing... Read More »