Food related technologies form a domain where many interesting startups can be found. According to the PFR Ventures and Inovo report "Transactions on the Polish VC Market 2022", this sector also attracts significant investor interest, accounting for over 5% of Polish fund investments last year, ranking fourth among industries funded by VCs —surpassing fintech and proptech. The number of investments has been increasing since 2020. Innovation in food is especially important in a country like Poland, where the food industry accounts for over 20%
Foodtech – what is it?
The first thing that may come to mind with Foodtech is vegan alternatives to meat dishes – this indeed falls within its scope, but it's not the only thing covered by this term. What other solutions can be umbrellaed under "foodtech"?
This category includes not only vegan meat or cheese alternatives but also beverages, pet food, probiotics, dietary supplements, or ingredient substitutes (e.g., proteins).
What interesting food producers can be found among Polish foodtechs? Regarding vegan products, notable mentions include SERio, producers of vegan cheese based on lupin, listed among the startups to watch in 2023. Another interesting solution is myEgg, a vegan egg substitute made from hemp seeds and pea proteins. Established in 2019, the startup received recognition in the second edition of the ING Grant Program for startups and young scientists in 2022.
The market of startup beverage producers is also growing – worth mentioning is Cudo Kombucha, creators of flavored drinks based on fermented tea, finalists of the 5th edition of the Foodtech.ac accelerator, or Foods by Ann, natural energy drinks created by Anna Lewandowska.
Regarding food ingredients, Proteinrise produces protein concentrates from peas, lupins, or fava beans. This startup, operational since 2021, focuses on proteins that can be found in vegan products. HiProMine creates animal feed proteins from meat production waste and organic fertilizers from insect proteins. Established in 2015, the company continuously develops new products, emphasizing research and development.
Pet food and supplements are a rapidly growing sector. Among startups in this industry is Supuppy, creating dietary supplements for dogs. Currently, they offer two products – for immunity and relaxation, and for healthy fur and skin. One of the founders is a participant in the PFR Pioneers School. The startup is a finalist in the Google for Startups and Huge Thing accelerator programs for European startups, as well as the Mazovian Startup program. On the other hand, psibufet is a startup that has already reached an exit – it was acquired by the British company Butternut Box this year. Psibufet sells catering sets for dogs, tailored individually for each pet, emphasizing the quality and variety of the sold food.
Combatting Food Waste
Apart from food production, another branch of foodtech is the fight against food waste – a topic that intersects with green technologies and the creation of food products. Among startups dealing with food waste, there are those focusing on the restaurant and retail markets and those creating their own products.
In the first category, Foodsi is a start-up worth mentioning. It allows users to purchase unsold meals from restaurants, bars, cafes, or stores at a lower price. Users can learn about current offers through the app, showing nearby places selling discounted products and the time they can be picked up.
Ecobean operates differently – it collects used coffee grounds from cafes or companies, recycles them, and produces biodegradable cups, straws, and even pots made from coffee grounds. The startup collects coffee waste from Starbucks, Vattenfall offices in Poland, and Delta Cafés in Portugal.
Rebread, on the other hand, produces food from food waste. They transform unsold bread from bakeries or stores into various products – from non-alcoholic bread beverages and umami seasoning to bread cosmetics, such as scrubs, and biodegradable packaging. Rebread was a finalist in the sixth round of the Spanish accelerator BIND 4.0 and the EIT Food accelerator.
Support and Alternative Production Methods
When we hear about alternative food production methods, we might imagine lab-grown steaks. However, in this area of foodtech, solutions are much less focused on biotechnologies. Among them are vertical farms, enabling vegetable production in urban environments – such solutions are created by Listny Cud, producing microgreens through its farms, available in many hypermarket chains. The startup also produces vertical farms for other entities and sells leaves to companies in a B2B model. Plantalux, a startup that won the scale-up competition at this year's Carpathian Startup Fest, produces LED and sodium lighting for use in greenhouse and indoor farming.
Another example of supporting food production is Fresh Inset. This Toruń-based company developed and patented a technology for extending the freshness of picked fruits and vegetables in a straightforward way – using a sticker covered with MCP-1. This is a safe protein powder that turns into gas and inhibits the release of ethylene under the influence of moisture. In August 2023, the company received over PLN 12 million from private investors – business angels.
Applications and Marketplaces
Applications and websites allowing the purchase of healthy food cover a wide range – from simple websites allowing the ordering of healthy, local food, such as Mięsna Paczka, which allows you to receive organic meat delivered to your home, or Lokalny Rolnik, delivering local products from specific, verified farmers. On the other hand, there is a substantial base of solutions for the hospitality and restaurant sector – worth mentioning is the KuMin.Sys system created by Venturis Horeca, which allows restaurant owners to optimize ingredient use by chefs, plan orders precisely, or Restaumatic, used to create websites with online ordering options for restaurants, as well as customer service systems (POS).
As you can see, the field of food technology is very broad – we haven't even touched on the adjacent, sometimes included in foodtech, area of solutions strictly for farmers (agritech) or delivery systems – whether restaurant or "last mile" logistics. We hope that this collection of Polish solutions provides you with both knowledge and perhaps inspiration for creating your own foodtech ventures!