Li Ka-shing-tied Horizons Ventures: Trends in our food investments

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Solina Chua, a co-founder of Horizons Ventures, said Wednesday climate change is a driver of firm’s interest in food-based investments.

“This is a key moment for food technology. A lot of Asian countries are vigilant about our food security in the backdrop of environmental challenges,” she said at the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Week in Singapore.

Horizons Ventures, with at least US$150 million under management across its funds, is a Hong Kong-based venture capital firm which manages tycoon Li Ka-shing’s private investment interests.

Chua said that right now, Horizons Ventures is “all about beverages,” and is examining beverage opportunities, particularly in functional drinks.

She noted that while she was initially “laughed at” over her views on Investments in food technologies such as urban farming, these are now becoming more mainstream, with technological changes.

“It all goes back to security and how do we make sure that cities like us [Hong Kong and Singapore] very reliant on the financial industries and services could morph ourselves into the huge industries of alternate proteins,” she said. “Who could have imagined that together with computing power, AI, [synthetic sciences] can bring forth new yield … and dramatically change cost structure.”

Chua also noted that new food products now have alternative routes to customers.

Previously, start-ups could be stymied from getting into supermarkets by high costs for shelf space and the need to give stores a cut of the profits, she said. 

But now new products can get traction by launching prototypes over the internet, with customers often willing to look at the technology and try out the product, she said.

As an example, she cited “cowless milk,” which initially sold out over the internet in mere hours.