In this second edition of the China AgriFood Startup Investing Report, China-based startups innovating across the food and agriculture industry raised $5.8bn in 2018 across 283 deals with 318 investors. While a couple of outliers drove the year-over-year funding increase of 222%, there was 60% growth in the number of deals highlighting the growing activity in the industry.
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Startups operating downstream dominate China's agrifood startup ecosystem as entrepreneurs seek to answer the demands of the growing middle class as well as the country's lower income populations. Upstream innovation gathered pace in 2018, however, increasing 800% to nearly $1 billion.
This is largely due to the rapid boom of China’s eGrocery and food delivery services putting a spotlight on the urgent need for improving supply chain performance and giving farmers access to markets not previously available.
Exits gathered pace with five IPOs taking place in food and beverage in 2018, from zero in 2017. The IPOs ranged from plant-based protein beverage and ingredient companies to food delivery player Meituan-Dianping, which reached the highest valuation. Each of them reveal a different face of the rapidly evolving Chinese food innovation landscape.
China's major tech players Alibaba and Tencent continued to drive investment but there were also several newcomers to the asset class.