Energising through Innovation - Reflections on the 2023 KPMG Agribusiness Agenda

Sprout Venture Analyst Crispin Dye had the privilege of being part of the Emerging Leaders panel, which helps shape the contents of the annual KPMG Agribusiness Agenda. Here he reviews the agenda and gives his thoughts on how this will shape the future of the agrifoodtech industry.

This year I had the privilege of contributing to KPMG’s 2023 Agribusiness Agenda through the Emerging Leaders ForumThis forum is an incredible group of emerging leaders in NZ agribusiness who came together to discuss the future of our sector. 

As we talked, a message that repeatedly came up was the importance of disruptive innovation to ensure the sector is able to succeed in a changing global landscape. These conversations clearly mirrored those had by the current sector leaders, as alongside leadership and the embedding of trust, innovation and creativity was one of the three key themes of the 2023 Agenda. 

The opportunity for disruptive agrifood innovation has never been larger, with the sector sitting at a confluence of many of the major challenges facing humanity such as climate change and the food crisis. The size of this opportunity is reflected in the growth of investor interest in agrifood technologies.

AgFunder’s 2023 Global AgriFoodTech Investment Report showed that despite a 44% decline in total investment funding from 2021 to 2022 (in line with what was seen across the venture investment space) global investment in agrifood technologies has increased nearly 10x over the last decade. 

Although I agree with the Agenda’s statement that innovation in the sector has historically been more evolutionary than revolutionary, chasing incremental productivity gains over systemic shake-ups, we must be clear that revolutionary agrifood technologies are not simply a thing of the future. From the use of digitised smell to reimagine how we assess food product quality, to the production of protein from renewable energy, innovators and entrepreneurs are already hard at work on the technologies that will change the global food system for the better.

We are also seeing increasing corporate interest in the development of disruptive innovation.

In fact just the week before the launch of the Agenda Fonterra announced a new nutrition-focused corporate venture arm, and Ravensdown announced their ‘Agnition’ venture investment entity only a few months before that.

Overall the 2023 KPMG Agribusiness Agenda paints a picture of a sector with significant opportunity, but that is also grappling with an unknown future in a changing global landscape. To quote from Ian Proudfoot’s editorial in the 2023 Agenda, “While not all the answers to the challenges in front of us are apparent today, the exponential pace technology is developing should provide confidence that answers can be found.”