In Italy, investment in agri-food start-ups is still very low compared to our competitors, but the post-pandemic recovery may become an opportunity for a change of pace.
In conjunction and alongside HostMilano and MEAT-TECH, this year TUTTOFOOD will be even more of a place to talk, see and touch everything related to innovation in technology: apps, food delivery, e-commerce and traceability. Evolution Plaza will be the arena for the latest and most up-to-date solutions for digital transformation and will be the soul of the TUTTODIGITAL area, which will offer initiatives from both major operators and innovative start-ups, accompanied by best practices brought directly from the exhibitors. For the promotion of digital content throughout the year, the event also relies on the know-how of its partner Netcomm, the Italian digital trade consortium. Also of great importance is the Innovation Area, which will present the new TUTTOFOOD competition dedicated to innovation.
Start-ups in particular can play an essential role in the sustained development of the agri-food sector. According to data from various international analysts, processed for TUTTOFOOD by H-Farm - one of Italy's leading business incubators - in 2021 agribusiness will account for 10% of a global investment in start-ups of over 300 billion dollars. Around 30 billion, of which 14.3 billion goes up the chain and 15.8 billion to the bottom. Italy is unfortunately still far behind in this race: suffice it to say that in 2019 our start-ups only raised €21 million, compared to €439 million in our direct competitor Spain. However, this means that there is plenty of room for growth and the post-pandemic restart may be the right opportunity to exploit this.
Innovation in the service of know-how
Andrea Casadei, Business Developer & Strategies at H-Farm and expert in innovation and digital communication, is convinced of this: “In Italy, the change is mainly about ‘know-how', our innate ability to process quality raw materials to obtain excellent food products. Today, this ability is confronted with a more experienced and demanding customer, who wants to know where and how food is made and demands a more direct relationship. Even classic Italian 'craft' companies are beginning to wonder how to establish this direct relationship. And e-commerce is just the tip of the iceberg”.
“During the lockdowns, there was a lot of talk about delivery and dark kitchens - continues Casadei - which are undoubtedly destined to remain, but in the near future there will be further innovations in the direction of increasing specialisation. These range from technologies that will enable cafés and restaurants to serve ready meals with more elaborate and higher quality recipes, to temperature-controlled lockers that will enable retailers to expand the range of fresh, frozen and more convenience foods available through this method, to ever greater shop automation. We’ve seen the automatic checkouts for a long time, but this phase will be more about the ‘background’ that the customer doesn’t see, such as replenishment management, but it will result in a more constant availability of products on the shelf”.
Specialisation and diversified responses are also possible thanks to the increasingly close collaboration between companies from different sectors, which finds one of the most favourable environments in incubators.