As we kickoff our newest project, enable Latin America, we had the pleasure of speaking with our partners Aaron Magenheim, CEO and founder of AgTech Insight, and Gonzalo Perez, MD at Arpegio. AgTech Insights is a full-service agriculture consulting and advisory firm, and Arpegio is a small VC that invests in early stage, sustainable startups making an impact in Latin America. Aaron and Gonzalo shared with us some of their perspectives and insights into the agtech happenings in the region. Check out the full video here.
Overall, it is a very interesting time for investment and attention to innovation in agtech in Latin America. While the global scene is still relatively new, Latin America has seen rapid growth specifically in the last 2 to 3 years. When asked about the timing, Gonzalo says, „We’re in that stage where everybody is starting to look at [LATAM], there are great opportunities, there is still a lot to do.“
Talking about the trends they see, Gonzalo and Aaron touch on two main areas of development: data transparency and food innovation. There is a lot of data throughout the entire value chain already, but much of it comes from the perspective of the buyers. Now, as people start demanding higher qualities of ingredients and different varieties of food, this push for data transparency is coming more from the side of the consumer. Nutrition is also becoming more accessible. New, non-traditional ingredients are being produced and creative methods of food production are on the rise.
What sets LATAM startups apart? Both Aaron and Gonzalo talked about resiliency. “Startups in LATAM are born lean,” Gonzalo states. While, he admits, this may be due to necessity, the ability of startups in the region to adapt to externalities and go to market quickly gives them a competitive edge. As compared to the US and perhaps Europe, LATAM startups don’t have as much of a safety net: there is varied infrastructure and limited access to capital. But, Aaron explains, their advantage lies in their relationship to the farm. „They are close to the farmers, they know the problems.”
As we look ahead, one thing we can be fairly certain of is Latin America’s continuation of technology adoption and the impact it has on the agriculture sector. “It’s going to be important to connect the startup world, with quick innovation, to these big industry players that already have the big distribution [network], and help connect them.” Gonzalo says. “I think that’s the best way to go, and it’s something we are looking into in our investments as well.”