Agro-tech investors look to Asia

AInvestors in gri-tech are not backing down from Asia, China and India being the region’s two main funding magnets.

This was one of the main takeaways from the opening day of the Asiafruit Business Forum, which was broadcast live today (September 28) as part of the Asiafruit Congress.

Hosted by Asiafruit Magazine, the Business Forum provided information and advice on a range of topics to help fresh produce companies grow their business.

“Fresh Tech” was the theme of today’s session, which included presentations from industry experts on everything from more efficient use of data to packaging plant automation and modified atmosphere shipping.

The session began with an overview of Asia’s agro-tech landscape by Jack Ellis, Asia-Pacific media and research manager at venture capital firm AgFunder.

Ellis said US $ 7.9 billion was invested in agro-tech companies around the world in 2020, a 41% increase from 2019.

North America continues to be the primary market for this funding, with more than $ 4 billion invested in U.S.-based agricultural technology companies in 2020.

Ellis said interest in Asian-based companies is on the rise, with China ($ 341 million) and India ($ 290 million) attracting the third and fourth largest fundings per country in 2020.

“Asia has continued to grow in terms of the number of transactions [per annum], overtaking Europe for the first time in 2017. [Asia] has also beaten the Euroupe in terms of deals done over the past two years, ”explained Ellis.

“In terms of dollars invested, Europe is a little more ahead [compared to Asia]. In Europe we are seeing more money going to fewer companies that are at an advanced stage of development.

“Here in Asia we are still a younger market, so we are seeing more early stage companies getting smaller investments.”

Start with data

Later in the session, Adam Cuming, Managing Director of New Zealand-based Radford Software, explained how fresh produce companies are using data more efficiently in their operations.

Cuming offered viewers practical tips for navigating the data minefield.

“Don’t get too distracted by buzzwords and rush into things like machine learning,” he explained. “Walk before you can run.

“Start with the data, collect it, standardize it, generate reports from it, make those decisions, and most importantly, continually improve the collection of that data and the weighting around it. “

Elsewhere in the program, Tomra Fresh Food’s chief innovation officer, James French, presented a case study of Lucai, an artificial intelligence-based solution that is revolutionizing blueberry grading, while Daikin’s Ah Huat Goh Reefer highlighted the long-term benefits of Active CA. haulage.

An automated future

The opening day ended with a panel discussion on the future of post-harvest automation. Moderated by Jamie Lunam of Jenkins Freshpac Systems, the panel brought together Bret Pittsinger of Van Doren Sales, Michael Williams of J-Tech Systems and Cameron McInnes of Global Pac Technologies.

Williams approached the subject from the perspective of the Australian market, where J-Tech is a leading provider of post-harvest solutions. He said workforce replacement was a key factor in the push towards automation.

With post-harvest tasks traditionally handled by a seasonal workforce in Australia, made up mostly of working holidaymakers, packers are now looking for reliable, end-to-end automated solutions as an alternative.

“The common theme that emerges is obviously workforce reduction, and as part of that, ensuring that workforce reduction does not affect the finished product,” said Williams.

“With Covid-19, we’re obviously missing these backpacker workers here in Australia, so there has been a huge push towards automation and especially end-to-end solutions.

“The big benefits come from the end-to-end solutions, which integrate everything from tipping the bins to the arrival of the fruit to the palletizing of the boxes wrapped at the other end. It is about having complete solutions, whereas in the past, there were a lot of installations that had partial solutions.

The Asiafruit Business Forum continues on September 29. Attention turns to “retail and consumers” on day two, with the program featuring presentations from experts in fresh produce marketing and branding.

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