The latest event from Frenchfounders, the International Francophone Business Network, held alongside the World AgriTech trade show in San Francisco, brought together key players in the food and wine sector for a deep dive into the latest trends and innovations in Food & Wine Tech.

The panel of experts, which included Raphaële Moatti, co-founder of Delicious Future, Martin Habfast, co-founder of Umiami, and Guillaume de Pracomtal, co-founder of investment fund Xinomavro Ventures, presented the current state of the industry and the major challenges and opportunities in the future of food production and consumption.

The impact of the food industry on human and environmental health is considerable. According to Raphaële Moatti, while technological advances have enabled us to efficiently feed a world population of 7 billion, we are faced with an alarming prevalence of junk food, particularly in the USA, where serious public health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes could be prevented by changes in dietary behavior.

At the same time, agricultural production methods have depleted the soil to such an extent that we have only 60 years of harvests ahead of us if we continue to produce our food at the rate of the last 35 years. However, it’s important to recognize that the agri-food industry also offers opportunities for innovation and positive change. It is therefore imperative to act quickly, at both industrial and individual levels, to adopt sustainable farming practices and promote healthier food choices.

The rise of new, more sustainable production methods, made possible by new emerging technologies, but also by a return to more traditional pesticide-free and regenerative methods, and healthier diets (such as veganism and vegetarianism, and the consumption of plant-based meat substitutes, which focus on reducing the consumption of animal products to limit the ecological footprint) reflects a growing search for more environmentally-friendly solutions without compromising on taste or nutritional quality.


Regenerative Agriculture and Food

Regenerative agriculture promotes sustainable, environmentally-friendly farming practices aimed at restoring soil health, fostering biodiversity and promoting the resilience of agricultural ecosystems, notably through crop rotation, agroforestry, integrated pest and weed management, and reduced use of chemical fertilizers.

Regenerative agriculture offers a pathway to healthier, more sustainable food, such as regenerative nutrition. Accelerating the transition to regenerative food – food that is good for health, good for communities and good for the environment – is one of the solutions advocated by Raphaële Moatti and her organization Delicious Future.

By supporting local farmers and favoring food grown ethically and responsibly, regenerative food offers benefits not only for individual health, but also for the health of the planet as a whole.

Regenerative farming does, however, raise the question of financing for farmers wishing to switch from conventional to regenerative farming. It’s not an easy environment to navigate, but fortunately organizations like Kiss the Ground provide invaluable support to guide farmers in their transition to regenerative.


Plant-based alternatives

Plant-based alternatives, such as meat substitutes made with plant ingredients like soy, peas, lentils or wheat, offer a compelling alternative by mimicking the texture, taste and even appearance of animal meat. In addition to reducing dependence on intensive livestock farming, they offer significant health benefits, thanks to their richness in protein, fiber and essential nutrients.

Martin Habfast founded Umiami based on the observation that, when you look at the meat consumed worldwide, it’s mostly fillets (chicken, rib steak, salmon) as opposed to minced products (steaks, sausages, meatballs). Even in the USA, the burger is only the fifth most popular meat, with chicken being the most popular. And yet, when we look at plant-based alternatives to meat, it’s mainly burgers, sausages and meatballs that are on the market.

Umiami has therefore created a new food process that recreates the fibrous texture and taste experience of a poultry fillet, a highly promising new product offering that will extend to new markets outside France, with Martin Habfast taking advantage of his trip to San Francisco to present his offering to industry players across the Atlantic.


Sustainable Wines

With Xinomavro Ventures, the investment fund that he co-founded, Guillaume de Pracomtal invests in the entire wine value chain, from vine to glass, to create more sustainable wines and beverages for the future.

The investment fund recently invested in Swedish company Djuice, which aims to democratize wine by making it more accessible and sustainable. Through partnerships with winemakers across Europe, Djuice produces premium canned wine, with a new liner technology that preserves wine longer. Because canned wine consumes much less CO2, the carbon footprint is much lower than bottled wine, and until now, there had been no premium canned wine produced on a large scale.

Xinomavro has also invested in a company that develops a membrane based on nanoparticules technology that removes ethanol from wine without altering its taste, developed from French CNRS research. Until now, it was impossible to remove alcohol from wine while preserving its taste. ALTR has met this challenge.

These kinds of technologies are paving the way for the production of more sustainable wines and beverages, making the role of investment in these wine tech startups crucial in promoting and scaling innovative and sustainable winemaking practices.


Adoption of new technologies

The adoption of new technologies in agriculture may be lagging behind, but this is finally changing. A McKinsey report shows that 62% of farmers in the West are ready to adopt new technologies or have already done so, compared with less than 30% a few years ago.

However, entry-level farmers often can’t afford these new technologies, which has led to an industry-wide trend to try and bring costs down, notably through miniaturization and the development of more accessible autonomous robots. This is the mission of the Farm-ng startup co-founded by Frenchwoman Claire Delaunay, which develops low-cost autonomous robots to help farmers gain easier access to technology.

This underlying trend is set to continue in the future, making technology more accessible and facilitating the adoption of more sustainable farming practices.


Thank you
Frenchfounders for your deep insights into the food and wines of tomorrow.

Are you an entrepreneur, investor or corporate executive interested in joining a business club? Get in touch with Frenchfounders via Clara Bousquet, based in San Francisco (c.bousquet@frenchfounders.com).

 

 

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