A rising global population and the rapid spread of technologies lead to more prominent attention to the food technology industry. It is now more important to bring new food tech innovations to the table for the mentioned reasons.
The merger of words food and technologies includes projects and companies that use modern technologies to bring the agrifood sector into a more sustainable and efficient industry. The food technology industry is under heavy pressure to continually adapt to changing consumer tastes and provide them healthier and more sustainable food solutions.
In this article, we will glance at the key reasons that led to the need for the food-tech sector development. We will also introduce the story of our Innovation Sprint alumni, who “employed” tomato stalks for the production of packaging.
Image author: Dilyara Garifullina
Why does the world beg for food technologies?
The need for the food-tech industry clearly did not come from the latest fashion tendencies. Many little and enormous global factors lead to the real importance of modern food technologies. First things first, our dear globalization made a significant step to bring an eye to the food-tech sector. According to the forecasts’ predictions, by 2050, the world’s urbanized population will have grown from 55% to 68% (Taste of the future report, 2020). The growing population definitely creates pressure on the agricultural industry that already sees labor shortages in critical roles such as fruit-picking.
Another reason is an ongoing spread of digitalization that indeed can be called the trend of our age. Nowadays, people love the digital culture, and the most significant attention goes to social media channels, where we can get the latest news. Do you want to sell food, diet plans, and food recipes? You definitely go online and present your service visually via Instagram or Facebook. Moreover, digital culture goes inside the food-tech industry. According to the ING Economics Department research, it is expected to go from controlling people & machines to fully automated production with remote control & monitoring until 2030 (Food tech: technology in the food industry report, 2019). Also, hypermarkets and supermarkets start to use blockchain tech to guarantee that the chicken meat, which they sell, comes from antibiotic-free poultry. New technologies and automated tools help to produce food production faster, in better quality & cheaper.
Image author: Easters Collective
How consumers influence the need of Food-tech development?
Although there are plenty of global factors to influence the food-tech industry's growth, it is essential to analyze the tendencies from a consumer's perspective. One of the reasons is the 'no-meat' movement. You may think that vegetarians and vegans stand behind this, but not. People are becoming lovers of artificial meat. Obviously, you get the same taste, high percentage of protein, and no animals get harmed. Also, laboratory burgers receive more and more great reviews and cause a sensation among the wider public. So far, food-tech scientists have a lot of work on creating new prototypes for different types of meat that are supposed to see the world within 2-3 years. By 2025, alternative meat revenues will account for 10% of the total global meat market (Taste of the future report, 2020).
The people’s idea of well-being also induces the need for food-tech development. People want to be healthier and try to avoid food production, putting their well-being at risk. Here our glance goes to sugar, salt, and fat. The contribution of sugar, salt, and fat to nutrition-related health problems, for example, obesity, receives a great deal of attention (Taste of the future report, 2020). The food-tech implementation helps solve this problem and create food products that keep the same taste and have less sugar, salt, and fat. And food consumers are happy again.
We live in a world that is all about consumer’s experiences. Imagine ordering a pizza. Your Wolt app shows it is 20 minutes left until it will be delivered to your place. Do you catch yourself checking the phone screen every 2-3 minutes to see how much left until your order delivered? Pretty casual situation. Nowadays, fast and qualified service means a lot. Thus, the food-tech sector implements more and more robotic projects to speed up food services: robotic waiters, chefs, and remote-controlled delivery is the near future for us.
Image author: Photos Hobby
The food-tech sector leads to the production of sustainable innovation
As far as we know, the main reasons why food-tech becomes one of the most essential tech industries in the world. The question of where else it can lead? Now, it is time to look at it from a creative and sustainable perspective.
Nowadays, many innovation sprints and hackathons seek to produce sustainable ideas and solve food industry problems, for instance, waste. As an example of such a solution, we present a brief story of Ugnė Dirdaitė's, the Co-founder of Sustainline & alumni of the Innovation Sprint, to use tomato stalks for the production of packaging.
4 years ago, Ugnė explored how to efficiently use vegetable waste and create an innovative product at the biorefining course (Dutch university). She wanted to tackle a massive amount of packaging waste in a landfill problem. Therefore Ugnė created an idea of "employing" tomato stalks for biodegradable packaging composite. Tomato stalks were chosen as an alternative to wood due to their similar chemical composition. Later, during the Women for Global Challenges (2020) accelerator, Ugnė, together with her team, narrowed down the target customer and the problem.
Ugnė adds that "tendencies show that World is turning from linear to a circular economy. Surely soon more and more plant waste will be used for similar productions because it is way more efficient, profitable & environmentally friendly than incinerating any agricultural waste."
Image author: Dani California
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Written by Kristina Kirkliauskaite
This article was updated on February 6, 2021.