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 »

What’s New at the Big 3? A Look at the Innovation of Bayer-Monsanto, Corteva, and Syngenta-ChemChina


Chris Sworder
We have been speaking to innovation teams from the Big 3 players in plant science, Bayer-Monsanto, Corteva (DowDupont's agricultural business), and Syngenta-ChemChina, to gain insight into their approaches to engaging innovation, how this is changing with the mergers, and where else in the ecosystem they scan for agtech inspiration. Bayer-Monsanto Bayer Growth Ventures will incorporate approaches from both organizations' previous efforts to expand into new areas. Bayer previously focused on collaborations and partnerships, exemplified best by Joyn Bioworks, a joint venture between Bayer and Ginkgo Bioworks. Monsanto has a traditional... Read More »

Technological Innovation in Aquaculture


Chris Sworder
We need more seafood to meet demand for protein. It took over a generation to industrialize livestock processes, and the environmental and social consequences of that development are being brought into sharp focus. The aquaculture industry is much further back on that curve, with environmental concerns beginning to come to light. Whether it is ecologically damaging aquaculture practices in Southeast Asia or the environmental consequences of large fish escapes or managing problems like sea lice, many factors are driving innovation in... Read More »

Aquaculture: A Regional Look at a Global Industry


Chris Sworder
Introduction Globally, about 2% of overall calorie intake and 15% of protein intake comes from seafood both wild-caught and farmed. The most recent available data on global seafood production puts the total annual amount in 2015 at 138 Mt (million metric tons), of which 60% was wild-capture landings (including 20 Mt reduction fisheries) and 40% aquaculture production. Of this 40%, around 75% of the tonnage comes from finfish (as opposed to molluscs, crustaceans, etc.), and finfish account for 62.5% by... Read More »

July Was Smart Irrigation Month: How Sensor-based Smart Irrigation Tools Influence Agriculture


Yuanzhen Pan
According to the World Bank, agriculture uses approximately 70% of global water withdrawals, with as much as 50% being wasted due to overwatering and inefficient systems. Meanwhile, farmers continue to make significant capital investments in on-farm irrigation facilities; over $2.64 billion was spent on US farms in 2013. To improve water use efficiency, startups are innovating, and farmers are deploying sensor-based smart irrigation systems utilizing irrigation intelligence based on real-time field data. A sensor-based irrigation system can be broken down into... Read More »

Biostimulants – the nexus of biotechnology and fertilizer


Chris Sworder
As we look forward to welcoming some of the leading thinkers in bio-based chemical and agricultural innovation at Cleantech Forum Europe in Antwerp on May 14-16, we thought we would take a look at one leading technology that is set to have an impact in the agriculture & food industry - biostimulants. What are Biostimulants? It has taken some time to identify biostimulants as its own market. An article from 2015 highlights the difficulty of defining a biostimulant as opposed to a... Read More »

A Feeding Frenzy in Agriculture – Cannibalism and M&A Prey


Chris Sworder
It’s always difficult to get a big picture of the agriculture industry. It’s huge. However, two big things are important: mega-mergers and bountiful exits. Big companies In recent years, we have seen a number of mergers that would see large percentages of market share across the Agriculture & Food sector concentrated in an even smaller number of companies. Just as one small example, with this set of mergers shown on the right, 70% of the world’s pesticide market and 83%... Read More »

Next-Gen Agriculture & Food – What did we learn at Cleantech Forum SF?


Leo Zhang
The 2018 Cleantech Forum San Francisco successfully wrapped up two weeks ago, which highlighted next generation cleantech innovations. The agriculture & food sector was a key topic for this year, and as such, was allocated three separate sessions to cover various themes, including digital agriculture, sustainable food systems, and biotechnology applications. The panels consisted of leading venture investors, corporate executives, and entrepreneurs sharing their perspectives on the current challenges we face, and more importantly, how to overcome them. Digital technologies... Read More »

Feeding Fish to Fish: How Insect Farming Fixes Fishmeal


Chris Sworder
At the beginning of 2017, I wrote a piece of research quoting Winston Churchill’s 1932 article Fifty Years Hence, in which he predicted that we would all be eating chicken grown in laboratories. While that is slowly becoming a reality (through companies such as Memphis Meats), there is another area of protein consumption that would likely have seemed even more absurd in 1932 – aquaculture. Currently, to produce 1kg of farmed fish ready for human consumption, it takes 1.5-2kg of... Read More »