Choosing the best crop for your agritech start up to target
When thinking of a market for your agritech start up you want to make sure you target the most lucrative. Here's a quick guide on what may prove the most valuable for a crop specific product or service.
There are several factors on what makes a crop valuable for a market. Firstly, we want to make sure there is enough of it. This way you can market your product to multiple customers and large volumes. Currently wheat, barley and oats are the top three most produced crops in tonnage in the UK, with wheat, spring barely and oil seed rape top for area (as of 2020).
Table 1: The cost of using Plant Protection Products (PPP) for crops grown in the UK in 2020, Sources: FAO Stats, Pesticide Usage Survey Reports
Something else to consider is the value of the crop, its market value and how much it costs to protect it (see below). High value crops are more likely to demand high value systems to protect and promote them. You may want to consider what aspect of expense you want to target e.g., onions have a larger gross margin, but leeks have more crop protection costs; perhaps more room for agritech solutions?
Graph 1: Crop values comparing crop protection costs and gross margin
You’ll want to look at trends within the UK crop sector. What is increasing in demand? What is plateauing? What pests and issues are arising? What policies will affect the crop sector in the future? For example, the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill that is currently being read in parliament would allow gene editing if approved. This opens up a host of agricultural and research opportunities.
Taking all this and your own expertise into account will give you a good idea of what areas of the UK crop sector are best for you and your company to invest in. However, nothing is ever straightforward, you'll have to decide which of the headings above is most relevant for your product which may involve some tradeoffs. Strawberries may be a high value crop, but the volume produced is a tiny fraction of the UK potato harvest, and a smaller seasonal window. You'll have to consider all of this when deciding what crop to target.
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