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Food and Agriculture's Top 5 Technologies For 2021

Joshua Haslun, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
February 11, 2021

It’s harder than ever before to be a food or agriculture company. Smaller competitors are using digital tools, novel channels to gain market access, and other innovations to gain share, shaking up the entire agrifood value chain. Our annual report, “Foresight 2021: Top Emerging Technologies to Watch,”  identifies and ranks the top 12 technologies we expect to reshape the world over the next decade. In addition to highlighting the 12 key overall technologies, for the first time ever, our annual report ranks the top five technologies across the food and agriculture sector. 

5 MOST IMPACTFUL TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE FOOD & AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY

Our report takes a deep look at the agrifood ecosystem and reviews what topics emerged and which technologies rose to the top during 2020. Our analysis of the hottest innovation topics and best tech startups found that the top five technologies food and agriculture leaders should look to in 2021 are:

  1. Bioinformatics – Having developed and risen to prominence largely focused on medical and pharma applications, bioinformatics is now crossing over into agrifood and health.

  2. Alternative Proteins – Concerns about health and sustainability are pushing to diversify diets away from meat and fish, leading to changes ranging from land use to ingredient supply chains.

  3. Precision Agriculture – Digital tools are continuing to revolutionize agriculture, improving product yield and quality and reducing environmental impact.

  4. Biofertilizers – Biofertilizers and other microbial biostimulants use living microorganisms to improve nutrient use efficiency and agriculture sustainability.

  5. Ingredient Informatics – Applying machine learning to recipes and ingredients can produce new product formulations more quickly, rapidly accelerating new food product launches.


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The agrifood ecosystem is experiencing a phase of rapid, intense change, where most of the growth in the space in recent years has gone to companies outside the top 20 players. As smaller and more agile brands meet consumer demand for personalization, larger brands will need to look for innovative solutions to regain lost ground and get ahead.

Agriculture and food companies alike will need to capitalize on the digital revolution, with ingredient informatics as a prime focus for shortening product development cycles and precision agriculture technologies as unfamiliar-but-critical complements to conventional agrichemical developments. Alternatives to mainstay ingredients are another hallmark of both agriculture and food, where biofertilizers and alternative proteins, respectively, loom large. Finally, look for bioinformatics to come out of its early role in pharmaceutical development to take a prominent, transformative position across the agrifood ecosystem.

To see how these technologies have the potential to significantly impact innovation, download the infographic.

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