REFLECTIONS ON 2018 AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN 2019

by Johan Jörgensen - 04/01/2019 - 09:35

We've just wakened up to 2019 and have basically already forgotten 2018. But what a year it was! Suddenly everyone is talking about foodtech. And investing in it! The pace will not slow during this newborn year. Some reflections: 2018 was the year when the food sector started to realize it is all about data and in 2019 we will see a lot of implementation, some will be rather puerile but some will actually mean an opening of the closely-held data sets so that tech entrepreneurs can do their thing. 

2019 will also be the year when the food sector realizes that the customer food data they have is not as valuable as they think, since it is data on old consumption patterns, you know, the patterns we need to abandon (meat, processed food, sugar etc). The valuable data for the food sector will increasingly be captured by people themselves (health, aspirations, etc) and not necessarily handed over to retailers or Big Food. But who will help the customers save and crunch their food data? Banks? Facebook? New Internet giants? There will be a few substantial bets here.

2019 will also see a lot of new and innovative products come to market. Expect a new wave of meat replacement products, so-called meat analogues, that tastes and behaves like meat though they're entirely made out of plants. Expect a wave of marketing from incumbents trying to stop the flow from animal protein to plant protein.

And get ready for a huge focus on GMO and gene editing. While Europe decided against gene editing in 2018, USDA has even released a label for bioengineered food that will come into effect Jan 1st 2020. So expect to see a lot of those new food products hit the market, at least in the USA. If the public doesn't object (which they probably won't - at least to judge from the beautifully designed label: https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/be) it will unleash a wave of innovation.

Dark kitchens and delivered meal solutions (not restaurant delivery, but food specifically produced for delivery) will become the new meal kit. Online food shopping will continue to grow like wild-fire and if you own a food retail building that's valued based on cash-flow from the food retailing, do expect a call from your accountant wanting to discuss property write-offs.

Besides data and new food products, health and sustainability will drive the market. A personal wish is that we'll also see a rapidly increased focus on the approx. 2 billion smallholders that produce the vast majority of the food we eat on the planet. After all, if we solve it for Big Food or hipsters in New York and Stockholm, some delivery entrepreneurs will get gloriously rich, but the planet will still explode and we have furthermore missed out on one of the most profound business opportunities in our lifetime.

Happy 2019!