Investment in Spanish foodtech startups grows 220%

Spain is positioned as one of the main global powers in the foodtech startup ecosystem after 2021 in which this sector has tripled the investment received, reaching 695 million euros, 220% more than in the previous year.

Innovation in the agri-food sector stands as one of the great keys to continue evolving and growing. The application of new technologies to food is leading Spanish foodtech, the term that is known to any technology applied to the food value chain, to become a world benchmark.

This follows from the Report on the State of Foodtech in Spain of 2021 prepared by Eatable Adventures which highlights the boom that the entrepreneurial ecosystem has experienced in the past year in new technologies applied to food. And, despite the economic difficulties experienced as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spain already has 407 foodtech startups, 9% of them newly created in the last year.

This trajectory places our country ahead of France and the United Kingdom in this sector, although still far behind great powers such as Israel, which has 900 startups, or Singapore, with 200 startups in the sector.

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The potential of these Spanish foodtech is attracting a significant investment that only last year reached 695 million euros, which is 220% more than in 2020, ranking as the second category of investment in startups in our country, being the first transport.

Most of this investment in foodtech startups it occurs in very early stages and only 5% in later stages or 2% in acquisitions.

In this scenario, the Glovo company, dedicated to the purchase, collection and dispatch of orders in less than an hour, has monopolized most of the total investment last year with 450 of the 695 million euros. In second place was Biotech Foods, with 36 million euros, followed by Heura, specialized in products for vegans, vegetarians and celiacs, with 16 million euros and, finally, Biome Makers and Crowdfaming with 15 million euros each.

The innovation of foodtech

There is no doubt that there is growing concern about environmental sustainability, which leads consumers to increase the demand for healthier and more environmentally friendly products. This opens up great market opportunities that are taken advantage of by startups, increasingly focused on the primary sector to develop more sustainable production formulas.

In this way, the Eatable Adventures report highlights that, currently, 24% of startups work in agrifoodtech, seven percentage points more than the previous year; while 35% work in production and transformation, 24% in distribution and retail and 17% in restaurant tech.

Along with this trend, in the last year there has also been a greater weight in projects focused on the modernization of crops, applying software and automation in processes, in 36% of cases, while 18% bet on reducing the weight of new cultivation methods and 16% do so in the application of biotechnology in the fields.

However, in the food process, there is also a change in the search for new ingredients with which to produce alternative foods, in 47% of cases, compared to plant-based foods or from insects, which until now they had greater weight.

But the impact of COVID-19 has also had consequences on logistics of these companies that, although before they focused more on the distribution of cooked food in restaurants, are now expanding their offers by evolving more towards e-grocery, that is, an online grocery establishment in which to order as it is done in a supermarket.

With all this, more and more projects related to the improvement of management are proliferating thanks to the use of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the use of data. This is leading to a growth in the use of biotechnology (32.05%), especially for food processing and crop improvement, but also AI (28.1%) and Machine Learning (24.36%).

Robotics (12.82%) and Blockchain (6.41%), although to a lesser extent, are also used to improve these foodtech projects and are consolidated in this sector.

All of this shows, as explained by José Luis Cabañero, CEO of Eatable Adventures, that “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”.

Entrepreneurs, for their part, point out that there are still many pending subjects, such as improving subsidies and better access to public aid.

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