AgFunder’s inaugural ASEAN agrifood-tech start-up investment report looks at the categories and investors driving this nascent industry across South-East Asia.

In 2019, $423 million was invested in start-ups in South-East Asia’s food and agriculture sectors. Compared to more mature markets such as Europe and the US, this total is miniscule; however, it is an increase of 400 per cent since 2014. Moreover, the report states that 2020’s total is set to surpass the previous year’s, with investment in the first half of 2020 already estimated at around $350 million.

Most start-up investment in the region was downstream in the value chain – that is, closer to the end consumer, with a number of investors drawn to start-ups that aim to provide the region’s growing middle classes with convenience and premium foods, and retailers with tools to better serve these well-heeled customers.

Upstream, there were several innovative food start-ups, particularly in Singapore, which is shaping up as a hub for alt-protein start-ups and companies reformulating food ingredients to make them healthier.