Covid-19 may have changed a lot of things, but it does not seem to have dampened the appetite for investments in agritech systems.
In the first half of 2020, £3.6 billion was invested in farmbased technology globally, according to Agfunder, a US-based tracker of investments.
The total is a little behind its original projections but compares to £6.6bn for the whole of last year and is similar to the total investment in 2017.
The biggest single agritech deal of the first half of the year was worth half a billion dollars (£396 million) for an investment in Impossible Foods, a specialist in plant-based meat alternatives.
When people think agritech, they often think of robots, but global investment in that sector was only £32m in the first half of the year and was dwarfed by other sectors, most notably more efficient production and processing of food, which attracted £1.3bn.
Next came innovative food products at £900m and agricultural biotech at £684m.
Grocery According to Agfunder, the UK was fourth on the list in terms of agri-food tech investments, including investment in grocery technology, at £296m.
Way out in front was the US at £3.9billion, followed by China (£1bn) and India (£491m).
“Broadly speaking, agri-food tech start-ups are aiming to solve the following challenges: food waste, CO2 emissions, chemical residues and run-off, drought, labour shortages, health and sugar consumption, opaque supply chains, distribution inefficiencies, food safety and traceability, farm efficiency and profitability, and unsustainable meat production,” says Agfunder.
The continuing appetite for investment in agritech was demonstrated in October when calls by Pontifax AgTech for investment in a US$300m (£238m) fund were oversubscribed, resulting in US$465m (£369m) of commitments when added to a previous funding round.
Productivity Phil Erlanger, founder of the Pontifax fund says: “The current pandemic has only highlighted issues of food security and makes improving agricultural productivity, nutrition, and supply chain efficiency of paramount importance for global health and sustainability.
“We are focused on pursuing disruptive technologies that result in healthier food while providing attractive returns for our investors.