THE TRIBUNE – leader in the field of disruptive innovations, the United States is yet far from being a model in terms of power for the French. That is what guides the growth of this new industry?
MATTHEW SOULE – The United States as in France, the general public becomes increasingly aware of issues of power in terms of health and the environment. Recent studies show that if for Americans the first criterion for choosing a food is the taste, followed by price, in third place are the health benefits. 85% of the population considers it essential that the foods are healthy and 35% are concerned about the presence of chemicals. 75% is in favour of a sustainable production. The only hindrance to new products and services remains, therefore, purchasing power. And the market is juicy, since each American spends 6.700 dollars per year to feed.
What faces does the Food Tech nascent? What are among the main sectors and what is their weight?
In addition to-Atlantic, innovation at the service of the power -whether of devices, technologies, data or new uses – is today present throughout the value chain, from production to the plate. The boom of investment in startups in the Food Tech has also affected all of these segments.
50%, or $ 2.9 billion for 2015, has, however, been concentrated in the distribution, where many new delivery companies have sprung up thanks to the simplicity of the business model and the possibility of a growth easy. The boom of this sector is well represented by the recent ipo of Blue Apron, which delivers subscription-based kits of fresh ingredients for the preparation of dishes: founded in 2012, it has already delivered tens of millions of meals. In this framework, the circuit courts are also often the place of honour.
With $ 506 million since 2015, the second segment in terms of investments has been that of consumption. Innovation is put at the service of the daily life of the people. The company Nima, for example, has developed a small machine that can detect the presence of gluten in a food in a few minutes. Social networks also have a lot of success: Yummly, which allows you to select recipes according to their tastes, allergies etc, already has 20 million users -and has entered into a partnership with the startup of delivery Istacart.
The offer of new foods -such as burgers plant manufactured by Impossible Burger, or the egg whites made in the laboratory offered to the agri-food industry by Clara Food, passing by the flour of insects Bitty – has also attracted 423 million dollars of investment.
By whom is it sustained? And how the great industrial look, in particular the phenomenon?
The investments come from venture-capital companies interested in the returns of currency. But the big industrialists, attracted by the opportunity to acquire information on the uses of their devices, as well as by the doubling of their products to an offer of adapted services, are also starting to show some interest. In may, Yummly, for example, has been purchased by the company home appliance Whrilpool. Nova, which sells an instrument of cooking, precision was acquired by Electrolux.
The boom is across the country?
The Food tech in the strict sense is without a doubt particularly thriving in California, where is concentrated capital risk, which is the first State agricultural United States and is a pioneer in terms of new cultures of consumption. Other States, such as Missouri and Kansas, do however also see the rise of accelerator dedicated to agriculture digital.
How will evolve the Food Tech american according to you?
The distribution sector, characterised by a very large number of actors, has already started to consolidate and will continue to do this. Expected to a plateau. Companies that have relied on the delivery of prepared meals by themselves are already faced with the difficulty of their model. On the other hand, another segment will likely strengthen: one of the startups in the service of industrial processing, which for 2015 has already raised $ 90.4 million of investment. The requirements of transparency and traceability from farm to plate, are a growing challenge, as the technology helps to solve.
In a globalised world, how the French contractors in the sector should address the risk of a competition of the Americans?
Of course, if the startups the u.s. had to cross the Atlantic, it would have a competitive advantage, in particular because of their easier access to finance: 60% of venture capital investments in the world are in the United States.
But today, in France, as there, the actors work mainly in the perspective to conquer the domestic market. Few of them have reached the critical size for going above and beyond -except, of course, Amazon, which is established in England and in Germany. The two markets, american and French, are evolving in parallel. And in terms of food, the possibility of replicating elsewhere the models being tested on a certain market raises question.