Temasek: These are the big themes in our agriculture and food investments

Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burgers served at Temasek media briefing in July 2019. Temasek is an investor in Impossible Foods.Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burgers served at Temasek media briefing in July 2019. Temasek is an investor in Impossible Foods.

Singapore state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings started its agriculture and food investments just around six years ago with three key concerns: Food security, energy security and water security, CEO Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara said Wednesday.

Pillay pointed to certain trends Temasek saw across both emerging and developed markets, with three of them linked to what he called “social progress:” Longer lives, rising affluence and catering to the demand spurring by that affluence coupled with an ever-increasing global population.

The current global population of around 7 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and approach 10 billion by 2050.

Pillay said Temasek’s investments focus on sustainable protein, fresh produce, including alternative methods of farming, healthy ingredients, transformative technology, including using data and modifying seeds, and a focus on smallholder farmers via its impact investment fund. Pillay was speaking at the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Week conference in Singapore.

He pointed to Temasek’s investment in fake-meat maker Impossible Foods as an example. Temasek has been investing in Impossible Foods at least since 2017.

Pillay cited the effort to create 100 grams of meat, including the use of land, water efficiency and water resource management, and called it a “huge cost.”

It takes around 326 square meters of land to produce a kilogram of beef, as well as 1,451 liters in freshwater withdrawals, and it creases 99.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent in greenhouse-gas emissions, according to data cited by The Economist.

That compares with 2.5 square meters to produce to produce a kilogram of Impossible burger, 107 liters of freshwater withdrawals and creates around 3.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent in greenhouse-gas emissions, the data showed.

However, PIllay added that the goal of new developments in agri-food wasn’t necessary to eliminate existing markets.

“Decimating the existing market may not be the right approach going forward. If we want to change behavior … you have to find alternatives that make sense,” he said. “It’s not as if the existing companies are not part of the future.”