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Food technology

Food production pioneers from across the globe recently visited Israel to learn about the country’s latest innovations in food, beverage and agriculture technology.

By United With Israel Staff

This week, Israel hosted two big events that promoted “smart food” and united global food producers with Israeli innovations, FoodTechIL and AgriVest.

FoodTechIL, at the Tel Aviv port, provided a platform for the latest technologies in the food sector. Some 1,500 entrepreneurs, investors, food industry leaders, government officials, researchers and service providers from around the world were in attendance.

Participants connected with Israeli FoodTech innovators and international investors. Senior executives, investors and representatives from more than 50 startups took part in the exhibition.

The event, hosted by Strauss Group, one of Israel’s biggest food product companies, included presentations by Aleph Farms, producers of the world’s first lab-grown, slaughter-free steak, and Yofix, makers of plant-based, soy-free yogurts.

“Businesses today understand that we have a crucial role in using technology to make a positive impact on society, on people’s health and wellness and the environment,” Ofra Strauss, Chairperson of the Strauss Group, said in a statement. “Our responsibility is to make food in a sustainable way that goes beyond profits and revenue and focuses on people, society and the planet.”

Top Companies Come to Israel

Representatives from PepsiCo, Danone, and Mondelez International, the parent company of Oreo, Cadbury, and Toblerone, were present, to name a few, according to No Camels.

Strauss, who grew up in the food industry, said in her address at the event, that in order to meet global food challenges and feed growing world populations, “we cannot continue to do things the way we used to do. We must reimagine the whole food world, we must renew it, and we must reassure everyone around it that we know what we are going to do.”

In 2018, Israel’s food-agri tech firms drew about $103 million in equity investment, according to a newly published report by Start-Up Nation Central (SNC). This places Israel “on par with, and sometimes exceeding, much larger nations like Australia and India,” the report noted.

Israel’s food industry is set to raise $135 million in investments in 2019. This includes $22 million for the startup DouxMatok, that has developed a patented sugar reduction solution.

“As the world’s population rises and urbanizes, standard agricultural methods are not enough to supply it without depleting natural resources and causing severe environmental damage,” explained the report. “Climate change makes weather more volatile and less predictable, making growing food even more difficult.”

Even the US multinational manufacturer of food and snack products, Mars is backing Israeli innovative food startups. According to Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), “The partnership will tackle major global sustainability issues by providing scalable solutions to the challenges of feeding humanity in a way that preserves and protects the environment.”

Israel’s Booming Food-Agri Startups

New data suggests that Israel presently has 350 food-agri startups, with 124 established since 2016.  SNC claimed this is “driven by both the growing global demand for efficient and sustainable food production technologies and the strength of various technologies in Israel.”

These include Israeli innovations such as AI identification of inputs, algorithm-powered seed breeding, root-based non-GMO breeding, and cures for dairy cows, according to the report.

Other up-and-coming Israeli innovations include Zero Egg’s vegan egg substitute, Rilbite’s minced meat alternative, BactuSense’s and Inspecto’s contaminant detection technologies, Flying Spark’s inspect-based protein sources, and Better Juice’s reduced sugar natural fruit juice technologies, to name a few.

The annual AgriVest conference, held at Tel Aviv University, hosted about 750 international entrepreneurs, executives of some 200 multinationals, academics, industry leaders, and investors.

Part of the event included a contest for startups that brought some 60 competitors, with the top prize awarded to Israeli biotech startup eggXYT. The company developed technology that detects the gender of chicks before hatching. This innovation is a major breakthrough for conscious egg consumers who want to end the practice of culling male chicks, which don’t not produce eggs.

With Israel’s challenging climate and limited supply of fresh water, the country was forced to develop innovative ways to sustain its population as well as create food export opportunities to build its economy. Today, the world is benefiting from the Jewish state’s solutions for those challenges.