You may be curious as to all the hype surrounding food and beverage start-ups. With the recent surge in investment funding, this industry is booming with ideas moving to fruition, from creative protein sourcing to efforts tackling food security and sustainability. To gain a bit of insider insights, we interviewed Kirsty MacDonald, of JamJar Investments which specializes in consumer brands, including food and beverages. In her daily work, Kirsty scouts for and works together with promising start-ups to help them grow and succeed. Here, she shares her take on the industry and where it is headed.
What do you find most interesting about food and beverage investments?
The unique element to this industry is that people have to eat multiple times a day, making this a huge consumer sector. You’d be hard pressed to find an industry where you have the opportunity to touch consumers’ lives 3 times a day. Changes are so frequent and the sector is constantly in flux because it is very trend-oriented.
Where do you think the appeal lies in these projects, from an investor’s point of view?
These trends dictate where the industry is moving and as such, where the money is flowing. Investors can reap the benefits of upcoming trends that will take hold and support business ideas. For example, people’s perception of health has moved over the last decade from low fat diets to a natural diet where sourcing is a focus of important. Another example is the tremendous swell in the use of blockchain in supply chain management.
What challenges does the industry face?
The space can be very crowded with lots of overlapping ideas. Discerning a winning combination of idea and team can be difficult. One key differentiator lies in the execution of the idea and network of the team. Specific to the UK, retail brands are very competitive, creating a natural barrier which once overcome, can serve as an advantage against other businesses.
Where do you see the industry headed towards over the near future?
I see 3 macro-trends emerging that show potential in the near to long term future.
1. Convenience – ground transportation of fresh and prepared foods (think Amazon Fresh and Deliveroo) should see more investment and usage of autonomous vehicles and drones to expedite and improve this process
2. Health Perception – natural and clean label retail brands should prevail with a movement towards super transparency in sourcing.
3. Global Population Growth – as a planet, we are running out of food options in the future and may rely on genetically modified crops and technologies such as printed food, creative protein sources such as soylent and insect protein. We will basically need to develop and adopt more efficient ways to feed people.
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