Explore APAC's Agri/FoodTech revolution with insights on cutting-edge technology, major areas of focus, and significant investment opportunities. Learn from industry experts and startups about the future of sustainable food production in the region.
July 3, 2023
Executive Assistant / Business Development
APAC is home to over 60% of the world's population1, and its food and agriculture sector plays a crucial role in ensuring food security for this large population.
For instance, Singapore currently imports over 90% of its food due to a lack of natural resources. To decrease external dependency, it has launched the Singapore Green Plan, which aims to meet 30% of the island nation's nutritional needs by 2030 through locally produced food2.
Governments and collaborative ecosystems driving innovation
Governments in APAC are increasingly supporting the development of Agri/FoodTech through funding, policy initiatives, and partnerships with the private sector. For example, in 2020, the Singapore government launched a $30 million fund to support the development of urban agriculture in order to ramp up local food production3.
Collaborative innovation ecosystems like Nurasa’s Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC) are emerging to accelerate the commercialization and adoption of sustainable foods across Asia4. These ecosystems provide production capabilities for innovators' sustainable food-tech solutions, as well as acceleration for their commercial scale-up and go-to-market strategies to shape the industry. Other pioneering initiatives, such as Corporate Venture Builder Nupo Ventures, have also arisen from corporate innovation efforts.
Emerging technologies and innovations
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on Agri/FoodTech in APAC, with companies leveraging technological innovations to improve the efficiency and sustainability of food production. These innovations range from pre-farm, on-farm, and post-harvest techniques. One key challenge is to increase farming practices while maintaining or improving soil health on limited land resources.
One major focus in the Agri/FoodTech sector in APAC is the use of precision agriculture. This involves providing precise and targeted interventions for tasks like irrigation, fertilization, and pest control. Some companies are using technologies like drones, sensors, and AI to implement precision agriculture solutions. Other companies, like Singrow, are providing remote farming solutions and agri-genomic technologies to increase crop nutrition regardless of the climate.
Another area of focus in APAC's Agri/FoodTech sector is urban and vertical farming, which involves growing crops in vertically stacked layers using artificial lighting and controlled environments. This technology allows for year-round production and can be used in urban areas to reduce transportation costs and carbon emissions.
The Agri/FoodTech sector in APAC is leveraging AI and machine learning to optimize food production, in addition to precision agriculture and vertical farming. These technologies can analyze data to provide insights into crop health and productivity and to optimize logistics and supply chain management. Recently, Microsoft open-sourced its AI-powered "farm of the future" toolkit, paving the way for turning agricultural data into action5.
The use of blockchain technology is also gaining traction in APAC's Agri/FoodTech sector as it can be used to improve supply chain transparency and traceability, enabling consumers to have greater confidence in the safety and quality of their food. According to a PwC study, over 40% of Asian consumers are likely to trace their food sources due to safety concerns going forward.
Along with the trend of veganism and vegetarianism - which is especially high in Indonesia where 43% of consumers indicated the likeliness to become vegetarian or vegan according to a PwC study6 - consumers are increasingly seeking health and wellness through food. This has led to a preference for innovative foods like alternative protein-based products such as Singapore-based Next Gen Foods or Indonesia-based Green Rebel.
Some other trending developments in FoodTech include improving the retail experience and operations of consumer packaged goods (CPG) through solutions such as Singapore-based Trax Retail, as well as implementing food waste monitoring solutions and other efforts to increase sustainability.
For more details on sustainability innovations within the Food & Beverages industry, please refer to our latest report here.
All of these innovations and investments into the Agri/FoodTech industry has lead to significant funding being directed towards the APAC region. According to a report by AgFunder, APAC accounted for 30% of global Agri/FoodTech investment in 20227.
“Estimates predict the APAC region to account for more than 60% of global [food] consumption by 2030 which - considering the current 30% share of global Agri/FoodTech funding - provides a gap that can be closed through more investments into technologies that enhance the industry and help to increase food security in the region.”
In the APAC region, approximately 80% of the food supply is managed by around 450 million smallholder farmers. Therefore, solutions must also address the needs of this massive user base to be effective8.
Currently, smallholder farmers face challenges such as high costs of technology adoption, limited access to financing, and a lack of infrastructure in some rural areas that prevent their growth. According to Tech in Asia,
“In Indonesia, most smallholder farmers earn less than a living wage - nine in 10 are impoverished. Agritech startups have emerged to solve these challenges through tech.” 9
Another opportunity lies in the increased demand for alternative proteins, as previously mentioned. VC investments in related innovations have already risen substantially, growing by 43% from USD 392m in 2021 to USD 562m in 2022.
As Mirte Gosker, Managing Director of GFI APAC puts it:
“Building a more secure, sustainable, and just food system is not merely a choice in Asia - it’s a necessity. Conventional animal agriculture is ill-equipped to handle the escalating pressures of skyrocketing protein demand, increased climate disruption, land and water scarcity, and threats of viral outbreaks. With the global economic downturn starting to make deals more affordable, there is a huge opportunity for forward-thinking investors to reap rewards as Asia’s food future evolves." 10
Please get in touch to learn more about Stryber and our insights on market signals, as well as promising venture business models for the Agri/Food industry verticals. Together with our clients, we have already led the process for building a number of seed-stage ventures within the Agri/FoodTech industry, such as a B2B marketplace for aqua farmers, a carbon credit platform, a self-service model for office lunch and snacks, and the scale-up of a D2C food supplement.