From having our lockdown baking plans scuppered by the lack of flour on supermarket shelves, to seeing images on the news of huge quantities of milk and eggs being thrown away by producers as the shutdown of the hospitality sector hit demand, to reading reports of UK farmers finding themselves short of workers to help pick their crops, we have all witnessed the short-term impacts of Covid-19 on our food supply.
Boasting a strong history of transforming agriculture dating back to the 18th century, the UK is well placed to develop the new ecosystem. There are positive signs that this heritage is being built upon, with companies relocating to the UK and a number of VC investments in the sector.
One notable example is Tropic Biosciences, which has moved to the UK and raised a $28.5m Series B round in June this year, led by Temasek.
The company uses innovative technology to increase yields, but commits to supporting local grower communities, promoting consumer health, and reducing the environmental impact of global agriculture, aligning with ESG principles.
There is a strong academic research base in the UK, with universities and research institutions such as Rothamsted and the John Innes Centre. Their research and innovation plays a key role in addressing global food security issues.
Until recently, there has been a limited pipeline of UK agriculture and food startups, but this is changing, with great companies solving what were previously intractable problems.
Parkwalk, for example, invested in MoA Technology, an Oxford University spinout addressing the global challenge of herbicide-resistant weeds. These weeds are impossible for farmers to get rid of, and substantially reduce crop yields.
There has been little innovation in the sector, and all current herbicides rely on a limited number of mechanisms of action.
For MoA Technology and companies like it, access to funds at the seed and Series A stage is critical to ensuring they can scale to the point of having the right attributes to appeal to specialist later-stage investors.
The pandemic has enhanced the need for innovative companies as well as early- and late-stage funds focused on addressing the challenge of Zero Hunger.
The impact of Covid-19 agriculture has already been severe, and while the full impact remains to be seen, it is likely to be long-lasting.
Covid-19 undoubtedly presents significant challenges to actors at every stage of the global food supply chain - as investors we have a responsibility to also let it be a catalyst for positive change by supporting the innovation that will drive us towards a Zero Hunger future.
Cassie Doherty is investment advisor at Parkwalk Advisors