What is foodtech, and do VC investors have a hankering for it?

Shifting consumer behaviors, tech innovation, fragile supply chains, social and environmental concerns—they all impact foodtech, a diverse industry that’s evolving faster than ever. Foodtech has grown rapidly over the past decade, and COVID-19 sparked substantial innovation among many categories within it—especially e-commerce businesses that enable consumers to safely buy groceries and meals. While COVID concerns still loom, more recently, inflation is driving changes to foodtech. Consumers face dwindling spending power at the cash register, and that has spurred shifts in their purchasing behaviors. With so many factors at play in this dynamic industry, we’re taking it back to basics here—what foodtech is, what its sectors are and who’s investing in the space.

Unless otherwise noted, data points included in this post represent live counts from the PitchBook Platform as of September 16, 2022. PitchBook’s data on companiesinvestors and deals is subject to frequent change. Where possible, we’ve linked to PitchBook profile previews, which provide a cursory sense of the types of robust data PitchBook clients have access to. 

Foodtech quick stats







Largest deal


Foodtech FAQs

What is a foodtech startup?

The food technology, or foodtech, sector includes tech-driven startups that are developing products and services that change how food has traditionally been discovered, purchased, delivered, prepared and, well, eaten. 👨‍🍳

One of dozens of industry verticals tracked by Crescentbitcapital, foodtech includes companies working in restaurant tech, food ordering and delivery apps, food waste recyclers, meal kits and recipe boxes, cooking and chef communities, novel foods, online grocery retail and more.

What are some examples of food technologies?

Food technologies fall into a broad range of segments, which we dive deeper into below. In the meantime, examples of food technologies include US-based food delivery robot startup Coco, San Francisco supplier of plant-based chicken products Black Sheep Foods, and Weee!, an online grocery provider specializing in Asian and Hispanic foods.

Who’s investing in foodtech?

Of the 15,000+ investors funding foodtech companies, six rise to the top in terms of total foodtech deal count. Investors who have led or participated in the most foodtech deals are:

What’s the current state of foodtech?

As of Q2 2022, foodtech VC funding reached $5.6 billion across 275 deals. Deal values are down, but funding is still elevated when considered over a longer time period. Other takeaways from PitchBook’s recent Emerging Tech Research: Foodtech report include:

  • It’s increasingly clear that foodtech is experiencing a market correction—public market volatility has essentially closed the IPO window, limiting exit options, while inflation and a tightening monetary environment are giving investors pause.
  • However, valuations and deal sizes continue to surge to new highs, and pre-money valuations are up across every VC stage.
  • Rising valuations and deal sizes, contrasted with declining deal counts, may indicate that investors are hedging market risk by concentrating deals into fewer, but larger deals.
  • PitchBook tracked 22 foodtech exits in Q2 2022—up 29.4% quarter over quarter—and the majority of these exits were acquisitions. For example, Helsinki-based delivery app Wolt was acquired by DoorDash for $3.5 billion in June 2022.


Q2 2022 Emerging Tech Research: Foodtech

Dig into the foodtech vertical with a full ecosystem market map, outline of VC activity and emerging opportunities and more.
Download report


What are foodtech’s segments?

Bioengineered foods

Novel consumer packaged goods (CPG) and commercial ingredients that evolve consumers’ experience with foods, including alt-proteins (plant-based, fermented and cultivated) and other animal-free alternatives to meat and dairy products.

Examples of bioengineered foodtech startups include Berkeley-based Perfect Day, which makes animal-free milk substitutes and proteins, as well as Atlanta’s Lemon Perfect, a producer of cold-pressed lemon water.

Food suppliers

Innovative digital technologies that manufacture or distribute food to consumers or other businesses, often selling their goods directly to consumers via an app—digital-first startups and grocers that have expanded beyond brick-and-mortar operations, for example.

One VC-backed player in the food supplier space is Picnic. The Amsterdam-based startup’s app allows users to grocery shop and have their orders delivered via a fleet of electric vehicles.

Intermediaries and delivery

Offerings that connect consumers with food providers, restaurants, and other vendors, as well as manage deliveries, payments and order histories, to facilitate quick order processing.

Examples of intermediary and delivery startups operating within foodtech include Reno, Nevada-based SkyDrop, which delivers food (and mail and medicine) by automated drone, as well as Bogota, Colombia’s Rappi, an on-demand delivery grocery delivery platform.

Industrial and consumer tech

Technologies and services that improve the precision of cooking, reduce food waste, enhance kitchen efficiency and help food suppliers track products through the supply chain. This segment addresses key operational challenges related to safety, traceability, automation and waste affecting food production and transport.

Chicago-based Farmer’s Fridge fits in this foodtech segment, operating meal vending machines that provide nutritious snacks—like Greek yogurt, grain bowls and salads—made from scratch.

Discovery and review

Startups that help users discover new foods, restaurants or other unique dining experiences generally via apps that provide information, and/or allow users to give reviews and share experiences with others.

Copenhagen’s Vivino is an example of a discovery and review startup within foodtech. The company’s wine marketplace utilizes community data to suggest personalized wine recommendations and allows users to scan labels via their smartphones for quick access to user-generated ratings and reviews.

Emerging opportunities in foodtech

Ghost kitchens

Ghost kitchens, or cloud kitchens, are companies that lease commercial kitchen spaces to restaurants focused on takeout and delivery. The model grew in prominence and gained investor attention in the 2010s in response to the accelerating adoption of Grubhub, Deliveroo and other delivery services. In addition, consumer spending on restaurants and other food takeaway options has steadily grown since the onset of the pandemic—crossing $100 billion in monthly nominal sales for the first time in 2022.

As third-party delivery becomes more important for sales, ghost kitchens—one of more than 140 emerging spaces tracked by the PitchBook Platform—can provide more efficient, optimized food prep and supply. To look more closely at the evolving landscape, business model, funding and outlook for ghost kitchens, plus molecular food and beverage, get your copy of the Q2 2022 Emerging Tech Research Foodtech Report.

What are emerging technologies?

At PitchBook, emerging technologies represent areas of tech innovation that attract investors’ attention—and funding—because of their disruptive, thematic or secular growth potential. PitchBook analysts closely monitor and produce quarterly and annual research coverage of 12 emerging technologies, including foodtech (and relatedly, agtech).

Take a closer look at how PitchBook defines emerging technologies, the 12 emerging tech spaces we cover and see how they’re different from the insights PitchBook surfaces through its similar-sounding Emerging Spaces feature. You can browse and download recent Emerging Tech Research reports, too.

Get your fill with more PitchBook foodtech content

Browse all of PitchBook’s foodtech reports
2021 Annual Foodtech Report
Analyst Note: Alt-protein industry advances despite costs and red tape
Exploring a new crop of startups: A closer look at indoor farming
Agtech and the future of sustainable food production
Precision agriculture and the transformation of sustainable farming
Emerging space: Clean meat
Emerging space: Insect-based foods
15 non-alcoholic beverage startups to quench your thirst
Who is founding and funding fungi startups?

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