According to U.N. projections, the current global population of 7.7 billion people is set to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. While Israel barely accounts for one-tenth of one percent of all the world’s inhabitants, the Startup Nation will play an outsized role in feeding those 2.1 billion extra mouths, thanks to the country’s vibrant foodtech ecosystem.
Israeli foodtech encompasses a diverse range of companies and innovative solutions, including agtech, ecommerce, meat substitutes, food enhancement technologies, and much more. All told, Israel is home to an estimated 700 startups and companies in the foodtech and agtech sectors, and Israeli companies in these industries have raised $759 million since 2014.
The country that invented drip irrigation has long been a source of inventive solutions for feeding the planet. Paralleling Israel’s success in other technological domains, the local food and agtech industries benefit from highly esteemed research institutions, robust public sector investments, and the dynamism of Israel’s startup culture.
Among the organizations committed to further developing the country’s foodtech sector is The Kitchen, an Ashdod-based incubator whose portfolio companies are tackling a diverse array of challenges, from food factory robotics to alternative protein production to food safety analytics. In September 2018, the Israel Innovation Authority announced plans for a new foodtech incubator in Safed, with the authority investing 100 million NIS in the facility over an eight-year period.
Here’s a look at just a few of the Israeli startups transforming how food is produced and experienced:
· Biotechnology company Evogene leverages computational biology and big data analytics to boost crop performance by creating pest-resistant plants. The company has formed partnerships with several multinational corporations, including BASF, Bayer, and Monsanto.
· Doux Matok’s technology reduces the sugar and salt content of foods without sacrificing flavor. How does it work? The company concentrates salt and sugar in a mineral carrier designed to deliver flavors more efficiently to taste receptors. Doux Matok has formed partnerships with several multi-national companies, and its first products are slated to hit the market by late 2019.
· Jerusalem-based Future Meat Technologies has set out to disrupt the meat production market by manufacturing meat products through animal fat and muscle cells. Tyson Foods’s venture capital arm is an investor in the company, which aims to bring its first products to market in 2020.
Some of Israel’s most successful foodtech companies have either become global brands or have been acquired by existing global brands looking to capitalize on Israeli ingenuity. 2018 proved a blockbuster year for Israeli foodtech acquisitions, with a series of high-profile deals putting the spotlight on the sector. Budweiser’s parent company, AB InBev, acquired beverage analytics company WeissBeerger in an $80 million deal. International Flavors & Fragrances purchased flavoring company Frutarom for $7.1 billion, marking the second-largest acquisition of an Israeli company to date. SodaStream’s $3.2 billion acquisition by Pepsico, completed in December, capped Israeli foodtech’s highly successful year.
Interested in learning more about Israeli foodtech? On September 23, FoodTech IL, the sector’s premier event, will bring together multinational food and beverage companies, investors, and Israeli foodtech startups. Watch out for more information on registration and programming here.