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Food Tech Is Much More Than Just Fancy Food Products
It’s innovation across the entire value chain of food from sourcing ingredients to delivering food
A common misconception I come across a lot is that most people think food tech is just about coming up with fancy new food products, like plant-based meats or novel new ingredients such as microalgae.
But food tech is so much more than that. Food tech is innovation across the entire value chain of food from sourcing ingredients to delivering food right to your door.
The goal is to make our food system better in every way possible. That includes reducing food waste, increasing access to healthy food, and ensuring that every bite we take is sustainable and delicious.
Let’s dive in and see how technology is transforming the multifaceted food industry to give birth to ‘Food Tech’!
Ingredient sourcing and food production
Technological advancements have allowed food producers to source premium ingredients more easily, while also improving the sustainability of food production.
Biotechnology has been a game-changer, enabling the replication of high-quality ingredients through cell cultivation and precision fermentation. This has completely transformed food growth and supply, by making way for more food choices that are better for you and the planet.
Plant-based meat alternatives are a good example. Producing meat requires significant resources such as land, water, and feed for livestock. With the help of biotechnology, we are now able to replicate the taste and texture of meat using plant-based ingredients and precision fermentation.
We no longer need pigs to make pork or cows to make beef. We can use plants to mimic the taste and texture of meat. This not only reduces the environmental impact of meat production but also offers a more sustainable and healthier alternative for consumers (further reading: The Rise of Plant-Based Meat and Its Environmental Impact).
On the software side, sensors and IoT technology are now widely used in food production, enabling food producers to keep a close eye on ingredient quality, making sure it meets necessary standards. And, with the integration of AI and machine learning, it’s easier than ever to track ingredient origins and gauge their impact on the environment.
This information helps food producers make knowledgeable decisions about ingredient sourcing, ensuring they have access to top-notch ingredients while maintaining a sustainable food production process.
The food packaging sector is undergoing constant transformation, striving towards a greener, more efficient, and sustainable future. Considering how much plastic packaging we use daily, I am excited about the greener innovation in the packaging section. One of its biggest breakthroughs is the implementation of biodegradable materials and smart packaging.
Biodegradable materials are made from natural components that break down (naturally) over time, this reduces landfill waste and limits harm to the environment caused by plastic waste. This is a big step towards sustainability, as conventional packaging materials, like plastic, can take hundreds of years to decompose and cause significant damage to the environment.
Smart packaging, meanwhile, is engineered to keep food fresh and secure by using nanoscale antimicrobial fibres to sense and ward off harmful bacteria and spoilage microorganisms. As a result, the food will have a longer shelf-life and because the food will remain fresh for longer, food waste is reduced.
Food producers can now keep a close check on their products and manage inventory more effectively. This reduces waste and guarantees that only the freshest and highest-quality food reaches consumers.
However, it goes beyond simply managing inventory. Technological advances in the food industry have greatly enhanced the distribution process itself. Food is getting to consumers faster than ever thanks to processes that are more effective and streamlined.
Also, don’t overlook traceability. With the use of technology, it is simpler to follow a product from beginning to end. This ensures that food is delivered to consumers not only swiftly but also securely and responsibly.
Blockchain technology for food tracking is increasingly been used to improve supply chain traceability (further reading: 3 Ways Blockchain Technology Is Improving the Food System). The utilization of data and system integration reduces the possibility of errors and guarantees a seamless and effective distribution process.
The rise of e-commerce and food delivery services has expanded to make it possible for us to order our preferred meals anytime, anywhere.
Zomato, Uber Eats, FoodPanda, Swiggy, Grubhub, and Deliveroo: These are almost household names at this point. There is a good chance that you may have ordered food from one of these companies. And how convenient is it? You can enjoy your favourite meals whenever you want from the comfort of your home. No need to stress over cooking or going out to eat!
Real-time tracking is a major benefit of using technology for food delivery. This enables us to keep an eye on our meal delivery, getting updates on its whereabouts, anticipated arrival time, and other crucial information. Tracking improves both the speed and quality of food delivery while also raising the bar for food safety.
People in distant and underdeveloped locations can now have access to a wider variety of food options thanks to food delivery services and they will not just be restricted to grocers and eateries in the neighbourhood.
The growth of food technology has brought about widespread improvement in the food industry, from procurement of premium ingredients to wrapping, distribution and delivery.
With the help of advancements in biotechnology, sensors, AI, machine learning, and blockchain technology, the sustainability, standard, and accessibility of food have been significantly enhanced. Food technology has made it possible to reduce food loss, enhance access to nutritious food and provide us with food swiftly, securely, and responsibly, no matter where we are.
The food industry is constantly developing and food technology is at the forefront of this progression.
I originally wrote this article on Medium. If you’re interested, you can find more of my articles there 👀