At Food-X we’ve been investing for 6+ years in those working to change and improve the food system. The global pandemic of COVID-19 has accelerated this change as it has swept across the planet and in turn, shaped what kinds of companies we will support in our next program, Food-X 2021.
Globally, food supply chains and traditional retail models have been tested, in many cases beyond the breaking point. Add to that the reckoning of racial and economic inequalities and how they connect with our diet, and it is clear that there’s no going back to the standard idea of what “innovation” means in regards to food and technology.
We are passionate in our support of early-stage companies trekking the uncharted landscape of climate crisis, global pandemics (existing and yet to come), and emerging technology as those efforts relate to human and planetary health. And as seasoned investors in the arena of food innovation, we see this as the following:
Preventative Food As Medicine
Take a walk down any aisle at grocery retailers large and small, big box stores, or even your local cafe. The shelves are awash with products flashing popular superfoods (turmeric, coconut oil, etc.). We see beyond the trends and consumers demanding both innovative health ingredients and highly functional consumer food products that can directly prevent (or manage or promote), through regular consumption, the following:
- Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes
- Inflammation and Chronic Pain
- Women’s lifelong health needs (through the intersection of Femtech and Food)
- Stress management and lifelong cognitive and emotional performance
- Reach and maintain a healthy body weight
- Healthy, robust human physical and mental aging
- Family health and immunity support
- Advanced companion animal health: extend and enrich the lives of our four-legged family members
Increasingly Adaptable and Sustainable Supply Chains
A nexus of the global pandemic of 2020 and the continuing climate crisis has exposed vast cracks in food supply chains across the planet. From reducing the high cost of energy consumption in inefficient cold chains, developing truly sustainable package solutions, and finally eliminating food waste at each step in the system, tackling these issues rank among the highest priorities for startups we are looking to back.
Next-Generation Consumer Retail and B2B
Brick and mortar restaurants and retail have been crushed by the events of 2020. Those who are surviving and/or thriving have done so by pivoting to explore new models of direct to consumer retail, ghost kitchens, or newly imagined B2B Managed Food Marketplaces. The next phase of how we discover and purchase food, including how businesses shop and discover ingredients, has been pushed out of old models into something entirely new.
Personalized Everyday Health
The developing headlines from the COVID pandemic expose daily how much nutrition and immunity can play a major role in the extent our bodies can defend themselves. Consumers demand more control and information in what they buy and eat. We view developments in personalized nutrition, shopping, product discovery, and product development as the key to the survival of the emerging food information industry.
The application deadline for our next program is November 1st, with the kickoff of our next batch in January 2021. This may seem months away, but the advantage exists in applying now for a shot at an interview as soon as possible. We can’t wait to learn what challenges your startup is tackling and how we can work together to positively impact the fate of human and planetary health in the years to come.