Investment in the Foodtech sector in Spain triples in one year

ICEX presents the second of their reports on “Foodtech in Spain: Moving the Spanish Food System Forward” 

For the second year running, ICEX Spain Trade and Investment is presenting a study on the Spanish Foodtech sector. The very title of this new report is the key to the importance that innovation plays as a lever to boost the food industry: “Foodtech in Spain: Moving the Spanish Food System Forward”.

The sector experienced a very significant boost in 2021, strengthening its position as a strategic niche for innovation in the food industry.

As the CEO of ICEX, María Peña, pointed out during the presentation: “The Foodtech sector forms a complex ecosystem, where operators, technology and sources of finance are all interrelated. ICEX aims to be an accelerating factor which increases the synergies in this ecosystem.” And she added, “ICEX is committed to being a Foodtech Nation, as well as the Food Nation that we already are. We want to accompany companies in the sector on their path to internationalisation.”

The sector is consolidating its position as a lever for the Spanish food industry
Spanish startups have attracted a total investment of 695 million euros in 2021, with investment increasing by 220% compared to 2020 and by 101% compared to 2019, highlighting the huge potential of this ecosystem.

The 220% growth in investment in this ecosystem during 2021 is largely due to the startup Glovo, but also investments in alternative proteins and in the digitisation of agriculture. (It should be noted that Glovo did not secure investment in 2020).

Spain is the 5th largest investor in the  Foodtech ecosystem in Europe  after Germany, the UK, France and the Netherlands. In fact, more than 400 startups are working to develop the future of the agri-food value chain.

Importance of the industry in Spain
According to the latest statistics published by the National Statistics Institute, INE, the turnover of the food and beverage industry in Spain amounts to 130.795 billion euros, which represents 23.3% of the industrial sector, 22.1% of the people employed and 19.2% of the added value. Moreover, the industry encompasses 30,573 companies, i.e. 15.6% of Spanish business.

Technological strength is key to the correct development and competitiveness of Spanish Foodtech startups in the global market. According to a study by Eatable Adventures, 30% of Spanish startups have a patent on their technology and 33.7% have a trade secret.

Attracting foreign investment
ICEX has a whole range of tools to support the Foodtech sector: in addition to providing strategic information in key countries, there is an area in ICEX-Invest in Spain dedicated to providing foreign Foodtech companies services to help them get established in the national market, so that they can set up collaborations with local industry and share their innovations. In addition, work is being done to attract international financial investment, which helps the international competitiveness of startups in the sector.

There is also a new section on the Foods and Wines from Spain (FWFS) portal to ensure maximum international visibility and turn it into the flagship of our food industry.

The Foodtech Challenge (Desafía Foodtech) immersion programme - Netherlands 2022, one of the world's leading ecosystems, is in addition being developed thanks to Next Generation funding. The first edition of the programme was held last November. The call for proposals for the latest edition has just been launched.