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3 Ways the Venture Ecosystem Has Failed the Food System… And How We Can Fix It

Written by  Allison R. Stewart 

It is an exciting time to be involved in the food industry and the good food movement. In other words, it’s an exciting time to eat. Farmers’ markets are at a record high, and more Americans than ever are demanding transparent labeling on their food. We are eating more varieties of foods and have even more options in how we receive that food– be it grocery, online, meal delivery, meal kit, or meal replacement.

Along with all this consumer demand and positive growth came venture capital interest. 2015 was a record year for food and ag investments. Food-X, where I work, invested in 35 food and agtech companies in the past 18 months, and we are not the only ones. Finally, consensus has been met for the need for major disruption in the food system. Despite all this excitement, 2016 has seen a few well-loved and well-funded food startups close up shop, in tandem with a decline in venture investments into the food and agriculture industries. These companies ranged from farmers’ markets to meal delivery. These ideas were BIG, and these startups raised big money. In fact, just four  of the startups that closed or scaled back in 2016 had previously raised $68 million in total. Unfortunately, clever thinking and successful fundraising are not always enough to ensure success for most startups.

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