According to a report by Tufts University’s Food Nutrition Innovation Institute, a new subsector of technology is blossoming in the Boston area, focused on the food supply chain. This burgeoning industry, known as food tech, has seen Massachusetts-based companies raise over $8 billion in capital from 2019 to 2022. These local companies are primarily dedicated to modernizing the growth, distribution, and retail processes of food systems.
Food tech encompasses various tools and products from biotech, agricultural technology, robotics, software, and data science that support the food supply chain from farm to fork. For example, companies like Toast, ezCater, and Ginkgo Bioworks, all based in Massachusetts, are working towards revolutionizing different aspects of the food industry. While Toast develops software and tools for restaurants, Ginkgo spinoff Motif FoodWorks uses biotechnology to create popular plant-based proteins.
The report categorizes food tech into five major sectors: agricultural technology, wholesale and retail, restaurants and food service, home and work, and entrepreneurship. Each sector plays a crucial role in creating a comprehensive and sustainable food system. Additionally, the deployment of artificial intelligence tools and robotics can lead to a more efficient supply chain.
The report emphasizes the recent growth of the food tech industry in Greater Boston, with over 130 companies and 13,000 employees worldwide. Massachusetts alone is home to approximately 4,500 of these employees. The presence of a large student population in Boston presents opportunities for the industry to create employment for those interested in agriculture, technology, and sustainability.
Furthermore, addressing the sustainability of the food supply chain is imperative due to its significant contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. Boston’s food tech industry aims to decrease the carbon footprint of the food industry through innovative solutions.
Compared to other major cities, Boston’s food tech industry is distinctive in that it encompasses a broader range of the food supply chain. Many local companies cover multiple sectors instead of focusing solely on agriculture or retail. The report also highlights emerging technology companies within the food-tech cluster, such as Tomorrow.io, a software and satellite company providing weather data to aid farmers, and Symbotic, which specializes in warehouse robotics for Walmart.
Tufts University’s Food Nutrition Innovation Institute seeks to create a hub and community around these food tech companies, fostering collaboration between corporations, investors, and entrepreneurs to create a positive and sustainable impact on the food system. Through this growth, Boston and Massachusetts aim to attract more companies and jobs, while also creating a safer and more sustainable food system for future generations.
Source: Tufts University’s Food Nutrition Innovation Institute