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Technology solves problems. And what bigger problem faces humanity than the dwindling ability to feed itself?
Hence the meteoric rise of AgTech, or agricultural technology. The global AgTech market was estimated at $18.12 billion by the end of 2021. By 2030, it will reach $43.37 billion with a recorded compound annual growth rate of 10.2%.
So which companies should you be paying close attention to, both as an investor and as someone with a vested interest in the future of humanity? And is now the right time to invest in AgTech, or are we looking at the next Dot-com bubble?
And what does “AgTech” mean anyway? Read on for answers to all these questions and more.
What is “AgTech”?
Agricultural Tech (AgTech) refers to the application of modern technology to the agricultural process.
From using drones to monitor crop yields to installing LED lighting for healthier indoor chickens, AgTech is looking to address humanity’s urgent need for food sources sustainable that use less water, less land and feed significantly more people.
Some other examples of AgTech include:
- Autonomous agricultural equipment
- Aerial images
- Alternative proteins
- CRISPR and gene editing
- Minichromosome technology (think CRISPR for plants)
- Satellite images
- AI-powered light and heat control
- Soil and water monitors
- Vertical farming
You may have heard of some of these innovations, but remain fuzzy on the others. Regardless, they all have a role to play in making sure we can stay fed and nourished.
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5 AgTech Startups to Watch in 2022
To get you started, here are five promising AgTech startups to keep an eye on in 2022 and beyond.
According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), almost half of all fruit and vegetables produced globally are wasted each year. And this is precisely the problem that Apeel Sciences, based in Santa Barbara, wants to solve.
The company’s main product is very simple: a plant-based spray coating that helps fruits and vegetables last twice as long before they break down. As a result, between 2019 and 2021, Apeel claims to have helped 40 food retail partners in eight countries save 42 million pieces of fruit that are not wasted.
In addition to extending the life of your avocados; the company also helped conserve nearly 4.7 billion liters of water in that two-year period.
In August 2021, Apeel secured $250 million in Series E funding from high-profile sources including Oprah, Katy Perry, the Singapore government, and various VCs, and it shows no signs of stopping.
The secret to AppHarvest’s rapid growth (pun intended) is its proprietary indoor growing method, which brings together dozens of cutting-edge AgTech innovations. From hybrid lighting to pest control sensors, closed-loop irrigation to robotic harvesters, AppHarvest’s cultivation process uses 90% less water and generates 30 times the yield of conventional methods traditional cultivation.
AppHarvest opened its first 60-acre indoor farm in 2020 and is currently on track to open at least 11 more by 2025. In addition, the company already has relationships with Target, Walmart, Kroger, Costco and other major fresh produce buyers, ready to receive more produce.
With a record yield in 2022 and a new USDA loan of $50 million, AppHarvest is making a big name in the world of vertical farming.
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Terviva’s motto is “plant millions of trees to feed billions of people”. And while all trees are great, Terviva isn’t just talking about any kind of tree.
Specifically, they mean the pongamy.
Native to the subtropics, pongamy are multipurpose “miracle trees” that:
- They need little or no water, fertilizers or pesticides
- It stores carbon and produces nitrogen
- They are resistant to climatic extremes such as droughts and monsoons, and
- Have a dense root system that controls erosion
best of all, pongamy produce legumes rich in oil and protein that Terviva has turned into three commercial ingredients: Ponova™ Oil, Ponova™ Protein and Ponova™ Flour.
Since 2010, Terviva has raised $100 million in capital to enable the startup to begin cultivating 1,500 acres of pongamia forests in Florida, Hawaii and Australia. And unlike AppHarvest’s Jonathan Webb, Sikka’s goal isn’t to dominate the competition, but to inspire them.
According to Canary Media, “Farmers are only willing to take a risk like this when they are, as Sikka says, ‘totally screwed’.” Unfortunately, a bacterial disease recently wiped out citrus trees in Florida, inspiring more and more farmers to follow Sikka’s lead and plant them. pongamy.
Terviva plans to open a new US-based facility and launch its first Ponova™ retail products in late 2022.
TerraClear solves “agriculture’s oldest problem.”
How do I get these damn rocks out of my field?
Rocks are a big problem for farmers because each one can cause up to $150,000 in damage to their precision equipment. And yet, even in the age of advanced technology we live in, farmers are still collecting rocks the old fashioned way.
“It’s only when you’ve hand-picked that you realize how bad it is and how much you don’t want to do it” laments a farmer in TerraClear’s promotional video. “It never seems to end” says another.
That’s why TerraClear came up with an innovative three-step solution to a 10,000-year-old problem.
- First, a drone scans the farm and generates a detailed image of where the rocks are
- It then runs the images through a “neural network” to categorize the rocks by size and location and generate an optimal route to remove them.
- Finally, the farmer uses the map to pick up rocks with a mean-looking TC100 Rock Picker attachment that fits on the end of a regular tractor or bobcat.
The company’s long-term vision is to fully automate the process and have robotics operate the heavy equipment. But even in semi-manual form, all TerraClear products sold out instantly.
TerraClear announced a $25 million Series A funding in May 2021, bringing its total funding to $38 million. And given that virtually every farm on earth has this problem, the sky’s the limit for TerraClear to rapidly scale production and sales.
A 2018 study by the University of Oxford found that by 2050 we will have 10 billion mouths to feed and double the demand for meat. I considering that meat production now accounts for 60% of all greenhouse gases, raising these cattle is not sustainable.
But at the same time, Beyond Meat’s stock continues to slide as plant-based alternatives fail to convert the world’s carnivores. What if we could have real meat, identical at the cellular level, without raising a methane-emitting cow?
Founded in 2015, Upside was the first company to successfully grow laboratory chicken, beef and duck. The company has since received funding from Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Whole Foods. In April, they secured a $400 million Series C round that catapulted their valuation past $1 billion.
The company will use the money to build a commercial production facility capable of producing tens of millions of pounds of meat annually.
The company reports that its products will be commercially available “as soon as possible” and interestingly, the first adopters will be Michelin-starred restaurants.
As for retail shoppers, expect to see UPSIDE’s innovative, “no-sacrifice” meat at your local Whole Foods soon.
Should You Invest in AgTech?
Many experts have compared the booming AgTech sector to the tech bubble of the late 1990s. In both cases, low interest rates led to a free flow of venture capital capital and good press.
But in the case of the latter, the bubble finally burst in 2000, when tech startups burned through their capital and failed to turn a profit.
Will the same thing happen to AgTech? Are there too many players in the space? Or will AgTech continue to soar as humanity comes together to invest in essential technology?
Here are some of the pros and cons of investing in AgTech in 2022:
- AgTech offers an innovative and important set of options for ESG investors.
- Industry growth is widely expected to maintain a double-digit compound annual growth rate through 2030.
- Many AgTech startups like AppHarvest have already gone public, so investors can start investing right away.
- Funds like the iShares Emergent Food and AgTech Multisector ETF (IVEG) and the Global X AgTech & Food Innovation ETF (KROP) offer convenient and inherently diverse exposure to the sector.
The bottom line
Whether it’s booming or busting, the AgTech sector will be an exciting space to watch. Each of the companies on this list presents a new solution to an old problem. And if one of them makes it to the agricultural technology prize, it could completely revolutionize the way we grow our food.
Invest in the future of agriculture >>