At 5.30am this morning, my flight from San Francisco landed in Auckland, but the travel has been well worth the effort! After spending time in California, I now have a better understanding of how alternative protein companies are tracking towards commercialisation. Market entry won’t happen overnight, as many companies still need to scale manufacturing and I expect regulations will soon follow. What is important to note is that there are numerous companies and many of them are backed by serious funding. For example, Merck recently purchased a big chunk of Moss Meats. Merck has vast experience with large scale biotech production and associated regulatory regimes. My prediction is that one, or two of the cultured meat firms will have first generation products in the market by 2025. Conservatively, even if this was delayed until 2030, it’s still not too far into the future!
Alternative proteins aside, most of the trip was spent visiting farmers, agritech startups and investors. The demand for fresh food continues to grow and in the USA, farmers have similar challenges as Kiwi producers. This includes how to better manage water and nutrient runoff, and how to automate farm processes to solve labour shortages. The great news for New Zealand is we are already working on these issues and we didn’t see any tech that was more advanced than what we have here.
This week, I’m looking forward to spending a few days in Wellington, including meeting with Minister Woods. This is especially timely, now that she has also picked up the Digital Government portfolio. I’m also looking forward to the Wellington NZTech Connect event so I can share highlights from our recent AGM. Join me on Thursday evening for an update on everything NZTech!