FoodTech 500 2021 official list of most promising start-ups is unveiled

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AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
FoodTech 500

The official FoodTech 500 list of most notable agri-foodtech start-ups for 2021 has been released by consultancy firm and Food Matters Live partner, Forward Fooding.

The list, which is inspired by Fortune 500 published by Fortune magazine, received over 2,250 entries from agri-foodtech start-ups worldwide when applications opened towards the end of 2021.

The finalists that made the top 10 ranking out of 500 include: urban farming company Infarm, indoor vertical farming group Plenty, insect ingredient producer Ynsect, healthy ingredient innovator Benson Hill, food box delivery service Imperfect Foods, digital agriculture company Bowery Farming, subscription box HelloFresh, fertiliser manufacturer Pivot Bio, food waste fighting app Too Good to Go, and Chilean plant-based meat and dairy alternatives company NotCo.

In an interview with Forward Fooding, founder and CEO of NotCo Matias Muchnick said: “We are here to change the food system. When you think about the taste of milk, a human mind would never think that a combination of pineapple and cabbage would recreate the taste of milk, but Giuseppe – our artificial intelligence – can and does. That’s the power of introducing new technology into an obsolete system: you’re adding a whole new world of innovative possibilities that are good for us and the environment.”

Other big names that made the list were plant-based fish company Good Catch Foods, founded by brothers Derek and Chad Sarno, London-based vertical farming group Vertical Future, creator of plant-based meat alternatives Novameat, and food retail solutions provider, Spoon Guru.

The 2021 finalists have collectively raised more than $9.6bn in total investments since they were first founded.

Twenty-one companies that made the final 500 list have recently become B-corp certified or are in the process of obtaining the B Corp certification, which proves a company’s ‘social and environmental performance.’

Ten companies are also currently publicly-traded, and 13 are preparing for IPO status within the next two years.

Twenty-nice percent of companies on the list have been founded by women, 16% are established by black, Asian or minority ethnic founders, 3% were started by LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, and 2% were launched by founders with disabilities.

To rank the top 500 companies, Forward Fooding uses their own FoodTech Data Navigator, a data intelligence platform to assign every company to their own category.

The eight macro activity groups are: AgTech, Food Delivery, Consumer Apps & Services, Food Safety & Traceability, Food Processing, Kitchen & Restaurant Tech, Surplus & Waste Management, and Next-Gen Food & Drinks.

The start-ups are also allocated technology tags from a list of over 160, some of which include: plant-based, cellular agriculture, alternative protein, blockchain, data intelligence, functional food & drinks, robotics, probiotics, aeroponics, hydroponics and 3D printing.

Once the data from all the companies is logged, the FoodTech Data Navigator then uses a set of algorithms to reveal a start-up’s business size score (e.g. how quickly it’s growing, number of employees and amount of funds raised so far), and the digital footprint score such website traffic and social media performance.

One final important criteria start-ups were judged on was their sustainability score. This was examined via data obtained through a self-assessed survey created by experts at the Department of Management at the University of Turin, Italy. The survey results were scored alongside a framework based on some of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals such as, 2. Zero Hunger, 3. Good Health and Wellbeing, 5. Gender Equality, 7. Affordable and Clean Energy 12. Responsible Consumption and Production, 13. Climate Action, and 14. Life Below Water.

These three separate scores were combined to give each finalist an overall score out of 300, and their specific ranking on the official list.

Out of all the companies making the FoodTech 500, the highest percentage worked in AgTech (30.8%), closely followed by Next-Gen Food & Drink (26.2%).

CEO and founder of Forward Fooding, Alesso D’Antino said: “This year’s FoodTech 500, features 10 publicly-listed companies, 7 unicorns and another 20 businesses on the trajectory to join this pack within the next 12-24 months. This is testament that the entrepreneurial talent behind the global FoodTech industry is capable of doing great business – while, of course, doing good to the planet.”

As well as Food Matters Live, other partners for this year’s FoodTech 500 competition include Rockstart, The Good Food Institute and Edible Planet Ventures.

You can download the full FoodTech 500 2021 white paper here.

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