What’s the best market to get a slice of right now? In Ireland the established “wisdom” was always property and that bubble seems to be swelling again.
The global software industry appeared to be recession proof over the last 5 years, with its rate of product development and consumer demand it would certainly be an attractive bet for an investor.
The Food Industry
But the industry that’s so big it’s difficult to define is the global food industry. From commodity processing to the sale of food services in burger stops and cafe chains, the world’s agriculture and food sector is valued in multiple trillions of dollars.
Putting a figure on its total value isn’t easy because it’s hard to define. Forbes magazine reports the World Bank’s estimation of the size of the food and agriculture industry to be $4.8 bn or 10% of global GDP.
If you then include the food services industry, restaurants and the like, then that could be an additional $1.85 Trillion.
Regardless of definition or size of the sector, the revenue it generates is astronomical and there’s a fortune to be made there for the right innovator and products.
And what makes it even more attractive is that with the rising affluence in the southern hemisphere, its growth rate is phenomenal as well. The changes in taste and consumer behaviour that took decades in the West are happening in a few years in the emerging markets.
A Bord Bia briefing paper [note: this will open a link to a Word document] outlines the main drivers: The first one is population growth, the report says that “the growth in [global] population is creating in population terms a market the size of Western Europe every five years.”
This increased population might not necessarily buy smartphones or secure mortgages but does have to be fed.
Also, in 2008 50% of the world’s population was urbanised and this will again drive change in dietary habits all over the world.
Specifically, consumers in emerging economies are buying more packaged foods and eating more meat. This in turn is creating a demand for technology that can manage and simplify global food production processes.
Blanchardstown based Emydex Technology is a software company that markets applications which manage and report on food processing operations.
They also offer product traceability for the food processing industry. The company has been in the news this week when it announced it was creating 20 new software jobs in Dublin so the emphasis is definitely on their technology drive.
”What is most important to me is that we build a greater awareness of Emydex Technology among the established network of talented programmers out there, so that we might attract more applicants for the .Net programming jobs we have available.’
David McMahon, Chief Executive Officer of Emydex Technology.
The company was established in 2004 and currently employs 25 staff. They are a rising star in the Irish tech scene ranking 16th on the Deloitte Fast 50 technology companies in 2013. Emydex is working with clients in Ireland, the UK, France and the rest of Europe. In an interview with the Sunday Business Post, CEO, David McMahon said that the company has a twin track approach of maintaining current market share and driving revenue growth as well.
The new business won in foreign markets is driving the current expansion. Emydex has been successful in Africa and is also working with distributors in North America, New Zealand and Australia.
Although their market strategy is global their industrial strategy is focused on the food industry. And given the size of that industry its opportunities aren’t going to be exhausted any time soon.
The firm offers 3 core services. The first is data collection. This service captures data from operational process itself, which is increasingly important in the era of big data. The second service is data management which enables the client to take the raw data, analyse and report on the intelligence extracted from it. The third service embraces a range of options including increasingly important services like “Yields & Costings, Quality Management, Recipe Management (Formulation) and Production Planning”.
One optional service that’s enjoying greater demand is traceability. Tracing and tracking technology is being used increasingly by food industry players after recent food contamination scandals.
The technology allows for accurate recalls of products and boosts food security and allows for greater consumer and producer protection. Emydex uses a high end development team with SQL and .net developers to create products in C#. Thus demonstrating that, regardless of what industry you work in, there is always room for good technically skilled people.
The Food and Agriculture industry in Ireland has always been the constant if (somewhat unfairly titled) unglamorous stabiliser of the Irish economy. According to An Bord Bia, it accounts for 8% of GDP and close to 160,000 jobs in the economy. And while this industry doesn’t have its own Silicon Valley on the pacific coast nor is Hollywood making movies about its leading entrepreneurs, it’s still the oldest and arguably the largest industry in the world. So it’s fitting that an Irish tech firm is enjoying fast global success in this traditional Irish business sector.