Now is the future of food


Global population is projected to reach over 10 billion by 2050. More than tripling from 2.5 billion 70 years ago. The food industry is the largest in the world and was valued at over a staggering 12 trillion U.S. dollars.

Blue Horizon Corporation

June 2019

Food security, health, sustainability and animal rights are under threat. And people care, quite a lot. The lobby is changing from being only ethically driven to also knowing what is actually in food; its source and how it is grown. Around the world profound changes in eating trends to address the intersection of people, profit and planet are being observed.

Plant based protein alternatives are at the heart of this.

‘Plant based food is the new hi-tech agri-tech, and it is attracting significant investment. We are witnessing a new generation of info-tech and bio-tech driven, healthy and innovative plant-based products, that meet global consumer demand at mass retail price points. Disruption of existing players and the growth of new product segments will take place much faster than expected,’ says Mark Hassenkamp, director at avocado and macadamia nursery Red Sun Hortitech and agri-tech adviser to Blue Horizon Corporation.

Switzerland based Blue Horizon Corporation seeks to invest in agriculture, food, beverages, food services and health. It holds an impressive portfolio of companies including NASDAQ listed Beyond Meat (its shares are trading 600% over its May initial public offering of $25). As well as Impossible Foods (it grows edible protein from stem cells), Live Kindly, Red Sun Hortitech, Desai and Wild Earth, amongst others.

Pioneering bio-technology in things like micro cell segregation (segmenting components of foods to create more nutritional outcomes), lab grown meat protein and 3D printing may seem counter-intuitive. Although it is more natural than we think. This signals the vision for healthier, more sustainable and nutritious diets for a mass population, while being kinder to the planet.

‘As great taste, better nutritional content and mass retail price points are achieved, consumers will continuously adapt. We’re seeing a convergence of information technology, genetic engineering and improved supply chain management. Sustainable business practice creates sustainable behavioral change. People now eat more food than we ever have; more than we need. Exciting innovation in this space could see us receiving healthier, individually tailored foods taking into account our own unique genetics and needs, lifestyle and other factors.’

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has declared gene editing one of the breakthroughs needed to improve food production so the world can feed billions more people amid a changing climate and diminishing resources. Fish alternatives are being made from tomatoes extracts, mushrooms substituting chicken, legume proteins instead of eggs and nuts replacing dairy. Leading businesses like Cargill, Tyson and JBS are moving out of animal-based farming and investing heavily into high protein plant-based products like legumes, grains and nuts and exciting new food configurations.

‘Transformation to healthier, more sustainable diets by 2050 will require substantial dietary shifts. Global consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes will have to double and consumption of traditional high protein sources such as meat and sugar will have to be reduced by more than 50%. A diet rich in plant-based foods with fewer animal source foods confers both health and environmental benefits,’ Prof. Walter Willet, EAT Lancet Commission Report.

Good news is that for South Africa’s protein super food heroes like avocados and macadamias output volumes are set to double in the next ten years. Increasingly plant based products will drive further into the ingredients sector for their proteins, oils and other macro and micro nutrient components all essential to our well-being.

‘Are macadamias and avocados going to crash? Not in our view. As global leaders we should be creating agriculture centres of excellence in South Africa. We have a ‘culture of agriculture’, as well as some of the best farmers in the world. Our leadership in agriculture expertise, together with skills, an excellent climate, well established market access and a legacy of past achievements positions us strongly to become the ‘Silicon Valley of agriculture’.

The future of food offers immense economic and social diversity and opportunity in high value markets that attract investment and continue to grow. We are surrounded by unique opportunity. We don’t need to farm bigger and we need to farm smarter. And invest further down our value chains to open up the exciting new scope for future food and agriculture,’ concludes Hassenkamp.