Is it the journey or the destination?

By Frank Buhagiar on Monday 26 June 2023

Is it the journey or the destination?
Image source: Is it the journey or the destination?
CommentaryFoodTech Investment

Food on the Move: FFF’s weekly roundup of listed FoodTech’s movers & shakers

Another week, same old story: share price fallers in FFF’s listed FoodTech space outnumbering risers - 31 fallers compared to just 15 risers (two non-movers) as at close of play on Friday 23 June 2023.  That’s two weeks in a row now that fallers have had the upper hand.  So what? Well, it was only two weeks ago that risers broke a seemingly never-ending losing run that stretched way back to Easter and that was only because of FFF’s jinx: “So, do jinxes work?”.  Begs the question, is this the beginning of another losing streak?

Enough of the pessimism. Time to focus on some positives. Among the risers, Farmers Edge stands out with a 23.5% share price gain.  Funny one this one because the only news out appears to have been a press release issued by Ag Growth International Inc. And based on the title, it’s not one that would automatically be associated with a sharp rise in Farmers Edge’s share price – “AGI Defeats Farmers Edge Challenges to Patents”.

According to the announcement: “Ag Growth International Inc. (TSX: AFN)…is pleased to advise that our subsidiary, AGI SureTrack, LLC…was successful in defeating challenges brought by Farmers Edge Inc. and Farmers Edge (US), Inc…to AGI SureTrack patents relating to the Farmobile PUC™ device. The Farmobile PUC™ device enables real-time automation and standardization of critical field data collected by farm machinery.” So, what’s going on? Farmers’ shares had been on the slide for much of the last month, so perhaps a rally was due.  Or maybe it was a case of the old adage “it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive” working in reverse - “better to arrive than to travel hopefully?”

Chances are customers of meal-kit co. HelloFresh and online grocer Ocado are happiest when their orders have arrived as opposed to being stuck in transit somewhere. Come to think of it, the same could probably be said for their shareholders too.  At least both sets of shareholders would likely have been pleased with how the share prices of their respective companies performed over the course of the week ended 23 June 2023 - HelloFresh up +10.8%; Ocado up +16.4%.

HelloFresh shares perhaps benefiting from Deutsche Bank reiterating its Buy rating on the stock and EUR 36 price target.  And with the shares finishing the week around the EUR 20 mark, there could be a lot more travelling to come for the share price, provided of course the good folk at Deutsche are on the money with their target.

Meanwhile Ocado shares were in demand amidst takeover speculation. Online giant Amazon touted as a possible suitor. Title of the BBC’s coverage says it all: “Ocado shares surge on Amazon takeover rumours”.  A story with legs?  Or a rumour designed to flush out short-sellers?  One to keep an eye on.

Room for one more riser.  Veganz shares ended the week up 10.8% at EUR 12.25. The vegan foodie announced it had secured “…worldwide licensing rights for the innovative ORBIPLANT® and ORBILOOP® vertical farming platform technology”. The announcement goes on to explain: “Following the successful launch of the research collaboration to develop protein-rich plants for production in the OrbiPlant® Vertical Farming System at Fraunhofer IME Aachen, Veganz Group AG has now secured the underlying rights to the Vertical Farming Platform technology for growing food crops as an exclusive license. With this groundbreaking technology, it will be possible for the first time to grow staple foods anywhere in the world in a regionally and economically viable way, for example in regions that have so far been dependent on expensive imports of staple foods due to unfavorable climate conditions.”

Veganz founder and CEO Jan Bredack sounds excited: “Vertical farming is not a new sector and so far has been used primarily for the cultivation of lettuce and herbs for regional supply to retailers and wholesalers. With our approach of direct industrial utilization of the cultivated products, we are not only creating the basis for a profitable business model, we are also achieving local food security through the cultivation and production of plant-based staple foods regardless of conditions (environment, climate) in all parts of the world to provide the population with healthy, plant-based proteins and carbohydrates.”

Hmm…the story of vertical farming to date? Lots of travelling and not much arriving.  Veganz shareholders will no doubt be hoping their company will be one of those that doesn’t just travel, but also arrives…