Covid-19 has devastated the food community in ways we never could have anticipated. Stock markets have crumbled and investment rounds have come to a crushing halt. As investors look for diversity to drive ahead in the aftermath of the virus, now more than ever food tech is standing out for its value, opportunities and benefits.
Transforming the supply chain
The silver lining of this virus is that it is waking people up to the importance of food. The flexibility and strength of food supply chains and production levels has been sorely tested. The importance of retail and restaurants have shifted to home delivery and online marketplaces.
Clean label foods and social distancing are just two things companies are now taking into consideration. The need for technology in the supply chain is higher than ever. Computer vision is necessary for quality control and real-time analysis. New refrigeration techniques are coming into play, as are improved bio-packaging solutions and robotics in delivery.
Consumers & the ‘new normal’
The change in consumer habits have driven this upheaval in the supply chain. There have been loads of reports on the surge of plant-based proteins during the pandemic as well as healthier and more traceable food stuffs. According to food tech startup Tastewise, a food statistics platform, a new normal is emerging as interest in “immune system is up 66% since February. What does that mean? It means consumers are now looking for better for you products as well as functional foods and stress relievers.
Traceability has also become a point of interest, as consumers care increasingly more about where their food comes from and if they are in “safe hands”. This demand will power the need for more traceability and transparency technology, like QR codes, satellite imagery and blockchain.
But are these trends the new normal post-covid or are they temporary?
As consumers seek healthier food products more food tech companies will be exploring how they can make tasty food with cleaner components. Sugar-reducing technologies, low-carb innovations..are just some of the solutions we can have to look forward to.
However, even the most innovative of startups could find themselves in limbo as investment rounds come to a halt. In a time when everyone needs money, the economic impact of the virus is going to hit hard.
Food isnt going anywhere
Thankfully for those involved in the food industry, they are working with a staple product. Food makes the world go round and its not going anywhere. Thats why even during a crisis, we must press on. With increasing demand, we have seen the food sector on a major hiring spree. PepsiCo announced last month that they were hiring 6000 new workers to help cope with the overwhelming demand. General Mills recently said it has raised its 2020 forecast due to customers stockpiling its cereals and snack bars as demand for stable foodstuffs sky rocket.
In a time when we are all stuck at home with nothing to do, its the perfect moment to reflect on things bigger than personal hygiene and health. Its a moment to think about the environmental impact our species is having. As we look toward a brighter and greener future, the food tech industry may be in the driving seat.
For the first time in history we can see a unified view on food and agriculture. Food tech innovation and investment is an opportunity for growth and to save a planet that is turning on its head.