Foodtech firms with unicorn status doubles to 64 in 2021, with US dominant

By John Reynolds on Sunday 6 June 2021

Foodtech firms with unicorn status doubles to 64 in 2021, with US dominant
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The research has been conducted by food consultancy Forward Fooding and looks at the geographical and sector split of foodtech firms, which are valued at more than $1bn (£710m).

The number of foodtech firms with unicorn status has nearly doubled year-on-year to 64 in 2021, with the US accounting for nearly half of all firms valued at over $1bn (£710m), according to new research.

The data, provided by food consultancy Forward Fooding, can be viewed in full here.

Key highlights in the data are there are 64 foodtech firms globally with unicorn status, which between them have raised €47bn (£40bn) since 2010.

The unicorns make up more than 50 per cent of the total funding invested in the whole foodtech sector, the research shows.

The number of unicorns has nearly doubled since 2020 and the overall value of these unicorns is €313bn (£267bn), the research says.

Of the 64 unicorns, 28 are based in North America (with Canada only accounting for one unicorn), 17 in Europe (including Israel and Turkey), 16 in Asia and three in South & Central America.

The US with nearly 44 per cent of foodtech unicorns is ahead of rival superpower China, which comes in second with nine foodtech unicorns.

According to the research, the most funded firm across the APAC (Asia Pacific) food system is Jakarta-based Gojek, the multifaceted firm which includes food delivery, which is now valued at €9.5bn (£8.16bn), according to Dealroom.

Across Europe, the research found 10 countries have unicorn status, headed up by the UK with six firms.

But it is German delivery startup DeliveryHero which is the most funded firm in Europe, raising €4.3B (£3.61bn) during its existence.

In total, food delivery make up 48 per cent of the unicorn firms, boasting 68 per cent of funding; ahead of agtech with 19 per cent of firms and 10 per cent of unicorn funding.

But the research points out that, in recent times, it is alternative protein firms that have enjoyed “hyper growth”.

Alternative protein firms now account for 13 per cent of unicorns but just four per cent of funding to date, it says.

However these plant-based meat, dairy alternatives, cellular agriculture and protein fermentation firms raised more than 40 per cent of total funding for this sector in 2020, and startups have gained more traction than ever despite the pandemic.

Forward Fooding says that, given this growth, it expects to see a “lot more” alternative protein firms becoming unicorns in the next couples of years, following the likes of Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Oatly.

Forward Fooding said it  used data from public markets listings, Bloomberg and Pitchbook to amass its data.