- Posted August 31, 2015 by
France and the future of the food technology
Three centuries of continuous food technology innovation
The revolution of food technology began in France with invention of canning processing. In 1794, the first conserves were made by Nicolas Appert. Then, the famous germ theory of Louis Pasteur opened the era of food pasteurization. Detailed information on global food technology development was recently transformed into a beautiful timeline of food technology history by the French National Association of French Food Industrialists (ANIA), and it provides a great overview of numerous achievements that made the food industry into what it is today.
In the beginning of the 21st century, we are on the threshold of the most radical transformation of our food industry since Pasteur and the Green Revolution. Farming is now regulated by software and high-tech sensors, big data allows consumers to have full control over what they eat and do more informed choices. Incredible gadgets, such as robot chef or a knife measuring the sugar amount, change our thinking about cooking. In recent years there has been a flood of innovative startups who have changed the traditional 20ies century‘s view on how food is produced, distributed, sold and consumed. And the scope of investment into food technology innovation continues to grow. In June 2015, there have been over $460 million of global investment into the food tech and media space, as a report by the consulting company Rosenheim found out. Thousands ideas have been supported and developed – the question is, which ones would make it into the history?
Modern food technology revolution „a la Francais“
This year, a team from the French startup 33entrepreneurs did a big step towards shaping the leadership of the future food technology. Leading industry experts gathered together for a a nine-stop bus tour across the United States and Canada to select the most innovative food and wine groups to pitch their concepts to entrepreneurs, influencers, investors and the media. The group also selected the top innovator from each stop of the tour to participate at the final stage of the competition. The first prize is $100,000 investment and three months of “accelerator“ training at 33entrepreneurs‘ 400sqm facility in Bordeaux, France.
The French cuisine is famous for its finesse and flavor – unlike the American cuisine, that has been mostly known for fulfilling a food‘s basic function: to make one full. However, Kevin Camphius from 33entrepreneurs believes that today is the time of a serious shift in the American understanding of what food is. It is not anymore a “fuel“, and people more and more tend to look for healther, tastier foods. And this shift creates a great opportunity for entrepreneurs.
In France, gastronomy has always been recognized as some kind of art – that included art of cooking, visual art, and even the art of diplomacy. This year, the Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has even announced the Michelin Guide from the Quay d’Orsay, the home of France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Traditions, but also the innovations are now the the earmark of French companies in Europe. For several consecutive years, French startups have been included into the top-list of Technology Fastest companies by Deloitte EMEA. One of the most interesting foodtech startups from France, branded “The Food Assembly“ in English (La ruche qui dit oui, in French) has recently raised 8 million USD of investments.“La ruche“ developed an online farmer market idea that allowed to link local farmers to consumers without any intermediary resellers.
Yet another French startup, Prêt à Pousser, went even farther in bringing consumers closer to farmers, and turned a consumer into a small-scale farmer. Why not growing food in your kitchen? The idea proved successful: Prêt à Pousser nicely packaged mushroom planting sets have immediately conquered the market in France and other European countries.
Several other foodtech startups from France focus on solving nutrition problems. Ynsect raised more than seven million dollars to produce insects for human and livestock consumption. Another company – Bloomizon – offers daily vitamin delivery that is accurately tailored to your personal needs.
USA got foodtech talents
It is not by coincidence, that 33entrepreneurs came to the United States. Among 2,300 worldwide food startups, almost 62 percent are based in North America. Of course, the spirit of food innovations in France and America is a little bit different. And how one could expect, 33entrepreneurs were looking for the innovations that would suit best to the French approach to food: that means, organic ingredients and healthy eating. Therefore, fast-food ideas or innovative pizza delivery services most likely did not have any chance to make it into the short list.
After driving 11 000 km through the country of Uncle Sam, the team selected 30 startups that would have an opportunity to join the upcoming BonAppétech conference in San Fransisco – a premiere global conference on „good food innovation“. Then, three startups would be selected to take part the accelerator in France next year.
The shortlisted winners included the New York project Supercook , an amazing and simple to use website, where you can find the receipts based on what you have in your own fridge. Just select the items that you see on the shelves, and “voila” - you get the list of dished that can be made out of them.
Toronto’s winner Thank you Chef was selected for their smart concept of making service for private chefs and diners. Chicago competition winner was the SingleService – a company delivering all the necessary ingredients for cooking a meal you choose on their website.
Personalized chocolates though an online design tool
Another winner from Austin is the mobile app developer BYTE. The new application allows to search for the restaurants and view their menus online. The special feature of the app is that it allows restaurants to get real-time feedback from their guests, communicate and reward their customers.
Another interesting startup selected by 33entrepreneurs is Austin‘s PiqChocolate. The startup 3D prints personalized chocolates though its online design tool that lets anyone easily design their own chocolate bar.
Further north, in Boston and Montreal, French team discovered several innovative foodtech apps: Localtable, that provides professional services to the restaurants to help them to staff and schedule events seamlessly. The other winner was Canadian Fika: a loyalty app that connects with independent coffee shops and allows consumers to pay less for their coffee.
These and many other innovative food technology companies will be present at the upcoming Startup Expo and Pitch Competition at Bonappetech conference in San Fransisco on 2-4 October 2015. And there, in the Grand Finale of French expedition for foodtech challenge, it will be decided, which American startup is the most interesting, promising and innovative enough to go to learn from the Old World’s best food experts and connoisseurs.