Spain has more than 400 Foodtech startups, being one of the major powers in the sector worldwide.
The agri-food sector is one of the engines of the Spanish economy, concentrating almost 10% of GDP, but we also have the opportunity to become a world power in innovation in the sector, thanks to “Foodtech”, a term with which any technology applied to the agri-food value chain is known. And this is demonstrated by the 2021 edition of the report on the State of Foodtech in Spain, a quantitative study that analyzes the sector that has been prepared for the second year in a row by Eatable Adventures, one of the three leading foodtech accelerators globally.
2021 has been a great year for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in new technologies applied to food. Despite the difficulties suffered by the economy as a result of COVID-19, the net figure of 407 startups in the sector was consolidated, with 9% of them having been born this year. Spain is positioned as one of the main global powers in the sector, similar to France, ahead of the United Kingdom, but far behind the 900 startups in Israel or the 200 in Singapore, much smaller territories than our country.
However, the most remarkable fact is the significant growth in investment received by these startups throughout 2021, reaching 695 million Euros, a growth of +220%, more than triple that in 2020. This figure places foodtech as the second category of investment in startups in our country, behind only transportation. Most of this investment takes place in very early stages (23% preseed and 46% seed). The 23% is in series A and only 5% in later stages or 2% in acquisitions. Glovo leads the highest round, with 450 million euros, followed by Biotech Foods with 36 million euros, Heura with 16 million euros and Biome Makers and Crowdfaming with 15 million euros each.
Startups and the agri-food value chain
The concern of our entire society for sustainability, combined with the growing demand of consumers for healthier products, has been understood by the sector as great opportunities, increasing the number of startups that focus on the primary sector of the chain, on agriculture and livestock, seeking more sustainable formulas in production. Thus, 24% of startups work in agrifoodtech (vs. 17% in 2020), 35% in production and transformation, 24% in distribution and retail, and 17% in restaurant tech.
Of those startups working in the primary sector, this year there is a greater weight in projects focused on the modernization of crops, applying software and automation in the processes (36%), while the weight of new methods of cultivation (18%) or the application of biotechnology in the fields (16%) is slightly reduced.
Analyzing the food process, which continues to be the most important point in the agri-food value chain (35%), there is a change in the search for new ingredients with which to produce alternative foods (47%), as opposed to plant-based or insect-based foods, which was the main driver until now (24%).
In the logistics section, the weight of direct-to-consumer models (74%), which in 2020 had gained very significant weight due to COVID-19, is slightly reduced. However, we see how many of these startups, which started out focused on the distribution of cooked food in restaurants (delivery), are expanding their catalogs to shift towards e-grocery.
Finally, in restaurant tech, we can clearly see how projects related to improved management thanks to artificial intelligence and the use of data are growing (40%), whereas until now this category was led by reservation platforms.
For José Luis Cabañero, CEO of Eatable Adventures: “The tripling of investment data in 2021 and the significant volume of startups operating in our country show how the foodtech sector is confirmed as a great opportunity for the economy of our country, which will grow even more with the involvement of the public sector, corporations, research centers and universities”.
Download the report here: www.eatableadventures.com/report-eng-2021/