Technology can keep a mango in the fridge for several days without spoiling. And you can even get it to last more than a year in a pantry. This is thanks to the lyophilization (dehydration process through thawing) proposed by the Mexican company Yay; Make an appetizer that retains all the nutrients, is crunchy and lasts a long time.
This union of technology and food is called food Tech, and includes everything from production to consumption, according to Jose Luis Cabanero, CEO and founder of gastronomic accelerator Eatable Adventures. “This concept provides a significant improvement in efficiency, safety, sustainability and the production of healthier foods,” he describes the term that has become more popular in Spain. In fact, the country was ranked fifth in Europe with the most investments in the sector in 2021. According to the latest data from the Foreign Trade Institute (ICEX), the result is over 400 startups working to develop the future of the agri-food value chain.
According to founder Eatable Adventures, last year was a turning point. The company published a document stating that the funding of these projects increased by 220% compared to 2020 and reached a total of 695 million euros.
Cabanero points to several factors: “The consumer is the main driver of this innovation, due to both emerging streams and the growing demand for food around the world. It is expected to feed 9,700 million people in 2050, which means that 70 percent of the production will have increasing the %. He adds two more reasons: the growing impact of climate change, “that changes” food Tech In a great opportunity” and COVID, which has spurred innovation to “reduce dependence on imports, guarantee food security and adapt to challenges”.
Well, it was in July 2021 when Seven Roots Venture Capital Fund became interested in Yay. Sanda Ram, CEO and founder of the venture capital firm, explains that they are interested in “products with a positive impact.” “Besides being profitable, there are trends in this, and one of them is healthy eating,” he continues.
In an industry such as the food industry, it is necessary to extend the useful life, although it is a complex process. “Many times when you get it you’re reducing the quality of it, not a 100% natural result,” explains Executive. Faced with this problem, he proposed the snack that prolongs the life of mango, pineapple, strawberry or avocado. Regarding the final fruit, Rams describes how freeze-drying helps to take advantage of the water invested in its growth, its high cost and to prevent it from spoiling so quickly.
Yeh’s creator Juan Carlos Guerra explains that the idea that emerged in Mexico six years ago was developed in the midst of a pandemic. “We worked on the project in America, and then I came to Barcelona to do my MBA [maestría en Administración de Empresas]and that’s when Seven Routes became interested,” he recalls. The product will arrive in Spain next September and in the first phase it will be in cafes and on route locations such as airlines, cruise ships or hotels. “Freeze-drying Allows for some weight loss, it gets rid of 99% of water,” he clarifies about a feature that can be useful on trips.
Madrid in lead
Although the companies are quite scattered, there are some pockets where they are concentrated, according to the 2021 Eatable Adventures report that year, 102 were located in Madrid, which represents 25.29%. It was followed by Catalonia, which contributed 24.4% of the total. In this second location is Seven Routes and in the first is the Madrid Food Innovation Hub, an incubator for companies food Tech.
This is a plan of the Madrid City Council and its director, Itziar Ortega, explains that the center develops four incubation and acceleration programs for startups during the year, training for entrepreneurs and sessions with investors, trainers and entrepreneurs who share their experience and share success stories.
In the last edition 12 emerging companies were selected. “They use new healthier food ingredients, new more sustainable food production techniques and the application of technologies such as” machine learning, big data or IoT, among others”, he maintains.
According to Ortega, when choosing one startup or another, they focus on the actual impact, the commercial viability of the idea, its contribution to the industry and the human team. One example was the case of Pepe Mate, a young company that develops 100% natural Mate-based soft drinks. “It has participated in an incubation program for packaged products and thanks to this, its first line was launched on the market three months ago.”
protein, The growth of the foodtech sector extends to the present. Adventures Eatables’ Jose Luis Cabanero points out that the last 2021 rounds will be confirmed in the first half of 2022. He also recognizes that a rapidly growing feature is investment in alternative proteins, which “evolve toward areas of high added value, with a strong component of intellectual property, and have real impact due to their scalability on an industrial scale.” “. He gives as an example the production of proteins by bioprinting and fermentation of microorganisms, fungi and algae. He concluded, “Global investment in plant-based is consolidated and remains stable over the past year.”
technology, Cabanero showed off his predictions with the case of Coccus, one of the startups in his portfolio dedicated to 3D bioprinting of alternative proteins. “It has raised an investment round from US alternative protein fund Big Idea Ventures and multinational Cargill, which has become shareholders of the emerging Navarrese company for its high-tech developments,” he said.
Health, Yey’s Juan Carlos Guerra confirmed that they are working on “improving the formula and giving added value to the market”: “We want them to enjoy these products, so that the idea of being on a diet doesn’t overpower them.” , and teach that you don’t have to suffer to eat healthy”.