Bad News: more lockdown = less innovations / Good News: Singapore is taking the food tech pot!
Shanghai has been in quarantine for at least 4 weeks, and now, Beijing and other cities around China are getting prepared to, hopefully, do better.
New trends and innovations are getting rare. Many companies have not been able to get to work properly since March, and the situation is without any doubt taking its toll on many people in China.
In this newsletter, we are getting back to the original format and I have selected a few pieces of news that I thought was interesting and encouraging.
Feel free to reply to this email or leave a comment below to tell me what you would like to read in the future, or get on a call with me and let’s see how we could help your brand with its development in China.
If you’d like to know more about what Shanghai is going through, reach out to me or leave a comment.
Hi, I’m Greg, founder of NextStep [F&B] Studio. We help F&B brands and companies in China grow by implementing new F&B trends & innovations.
The FoodTech Confidential Newsletter is my way to share what’s happening in the Food and Beverage industry with F&B professionals, FMCG experts, Tech entrepreneurs, and Investors with a focus on China and Greater Asia. Contact email@example.com.
1 - Time to put the safety mode on for the delivery drivers
2 - “Group buying” might last longer than I thought
3 - Since you cannot get supplies, time to grow your own food
4 - If you are working on something great, Temasek could help you make a difference
5 - FoodLab, a shared facility to help you launch testers in small batches
6 - What’s up with snacks?
WHAT’S NEW IN CHINA?
1 - Delivery drivers are gearing up with smart helmets
Over the past few years, delivery platforms made the top headlines for the wrong reasons. Delivery drivers are under pressure. More deliveries to handle, less time for all of them, and more competitions… this seems like a perfect recipe that is pushing people to go faster and get a bit too creative with the traffic rules around the country.
After Ele.me a few months ago, Meituan announced to offer smart safety helmets for their delivery drivers.
“They are distinguished from traditional helmets by virtue of their numerous smart safety functions, such as detection in wearing and collision, self-sensing taillights, Bluetooth headsets, microphones, shortcut keys and other innovative features.
From receiving orders to delivery, riders need to use smartphones or answer calls many times, often leading to distraction and accidents. Smart safety helmets have functions such as voice calling and order receiving, thus greatly enhancing the driver’s security during delivery.” reports Panda Daily.
2 - Leading platforms who missed the group-buying boat are determined to catch-up
A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned how the “group-buying” took over everything else in a matter of days.
Actually, Ele.me and Meituan, China leading food delivery platform, have been working on their solutions (Ele.me with Pintuan (饿了么拼团 Èleme pīntuán)” and “Pinhaofan (拼好饭 Pīnhǎofàn) for Meituan) for some time but were definitely left behind when the quarantine hit Shanghai last March.
But, with a clear goal in sight, a clearly identified market need (due to the lack of delivery drivers mostly), and some cash at hand, they are determined to catch up quickly with the “group-buying” trends. Some might even say this should be perfect timing, since many other major cities around China, are now entering into a city-wide lockdown as well.
3 - Indoor gardening might be a solution
Last week, we talked about the difficulties for younger generations that were usually used to getting food delivery, but now, during the lockdown, they had to start cooking fresh food on their own.
With the recent shortage of food supplies that happened in Shanghai during the first weeks of lockdown, many turned to indoor gardening, balcony gardening, or rooftop gardening to get their fresh food.
But is gardening only purpose only about filling someone stomach’s?
“Growing vegetables on balconies cannot fill one’s stomach entirely,” C.W. told Sixth Tone, adding that it takes time and effort to achieve significant results. “The act of growing seems to be more important than actually eating them.”
Many have reported that gardening is a way for them to feel some control despite what’s happening.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE REST OF THE WORLD?
4 - How Temasek became a leading food tech investor
The Singapore-based state-owned investment firm Temasek was the first of the big investment ventures to focus on food and agriculture. With a portfolio valued at S$381 billion (over $270 billion USD), $8 billion were deployed in the Food and agriculture industry.
“Since 2013, Temasek has invested more than $8 billion in the food and agriculture space worldwide. It currently has more than 40 agrifood companies in its portfolio, seven of which have grown to be unicorns with valuations of more than $1 billion.” reported Food Dive
Temasek especially invests in industries and companies that are plugged into long-term trends shaping the world.
You can discover more about their portfolio and investment strategy in this in-depth interview by FoodDive.com with Anuj Maheshwari, Head of Agri-Food investments, Temasek.
5 - Shared facilities to produce small-batch testers in Singapore
Singapore is well-known to be at the front row of Food Tech innovations, and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and government agencies Enterprise Singapore and JTC have put together a shared facility named FOODPLANT where firms wishing to produce small batches of food as testers or experiment with the latest technology can.
“The plant hopes to assist 200 food manufacturers and accelerate the development of 400 new products by 2026” said FoodNavigator Asia
6 - Don’t snack or you’re going to ruin the meal!
Andrea Hernández, the writer of Snaxshot, is sharing her interesting views on what “snacking” is and should be, and maybe it’s time for snacks to stop using “functional” as an attribute.
Bon Appetit introduce this interview like this : “To catch a glimpse of the future of snacks, we spoke about the scams, the stars, and the trends that are defining the meals we all eat between meals.”
Snacks have evolved a lot in some parts of the world, and snacking habits, as well as their meaning and purpose. Many brands have surfed that wave.
Basically, younger generations are simply not looking at “meals” the same way.
“My parents used to be like, “Don’t snack or you’re going to ruin the meal.” But the stats say my generation and Gen Z are not eating full meals in the same way as my parents’ generation. We’re snacking a lot more in lieu of meals. So, joke’s on you, boomers, because the snack actually became the meal.”
Andrea talks about trends, habits, and aesthetics. But some basic ingredients, are making a come back, repackaged and with a premium price.
“I’ve also noticed a lot of health trends that seem to take [long-held] human knowledge, repackage it, and sell it back to us at a premium. Think marketing campaigns about the hidden powers of mushrooms—like normal, non-magic mushrooms. People have known mushrooms are good for us for hundreds of generations. This isn’t news. But the fact is that we’re so disconnected and severed from our roots as human beings that we buy into this commodification of regular things.”
Talk to me about these stories and what it means for your business!
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That’s it for now
As you can imagine, while doing my research, I am finding a lot more things that didn’t make the cut here (and some are going straight to LinkedIn). Let me know if you’d like to know more and drop me a comment, just reply to this email directly or contact email@example.com.