Season 5, Post 22: Foodtech, Swedish style
It seemed fitting that the former banana warehouse in Stockholm’s harbour district was the location for last week’s Sweden Foodtech event. Now in its eighth year, over 500 participants spent up to two days learning about the future of food. Beyond having the opportunity to listen to more than 50 different speakers (of whom your author was one, participating in a panel discussion on “the financial journey of a food tech company”), visitors were able to sample emerging products at what constituted apparently the world’s largest test kitchen.
If there were two prevailing themes that recurred consistently across the conference floor, at the presentations and within the test kitchen, then the words smart and sustainable would spring most to mind. Take the former and no shortage of personalised apps were on display. The idea here is to enable consumers to make more informed decisions about their dietary choices, thinking about the calorific impact, fat content and so on of the products consumed. Food as medicine is a subject which we believe will only grow in importance. Add in the carbon footprint of different items, and there could also be a sustainability angle attached to such apps.
Almost every start-up with whom we spoke highlighted a mantra along the lines of great taste with zero waste. It’s certainly a catchy angle. In practical terms, it can often mean taking plant-based alternatives to meat, fish or dairy products and making them appear as close to the originals as possible. Many with whom we spoke believed we were now in an ‘alternative protein 2.0’ world. Consumers are increasingly more open to the idea of introducing novel products into their diets, but in order for them to become entrenched, they need to taste at least as good as those they are seeking to replicate. Eco-friendly packaging, we heard on several occasions, is also increasingly critical in terms of the product pitch for target consumers.
And what of the test-kitchen? It always pays to be open-minded. Your author has tried bugs on several occasions previously but was impressed to see mealworm cakes on display in Stockholm. Elsewhere, the buzz words seemed to be biomass and fermentation. Put another way, expect to see on supermarket shelves or restaurant tables somewhere down the line products created through the release of energy from living organisms and/ or accelerated via controlled microbial growth. Watch this space but trust you author – they can be very tasty.
6 June 2023
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
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Alex Gunz, Fund Manager
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