Table of Contents
1. Alternative Proteins
Consumers are shifting towards alternative protein sources due to both health and environmental concerns, making it one of the most prominent food technology trends. Cultured meat, lab-grown food, plant-based nutrition, edible insects, and mycoprotein are the primary alternative protein sources. Not only are they nutrient-rich, but they also minimize resource use from farm to fork, unlike protein from livestock. They reduce the overall costs as alternative protein sources demand only marginal dietary requirements and health monitoring. Advancements in 3D printing, fermentation, and molecular biology enable startups to develop sustainable alternative protein production solutions. This aids food companies to offset the ethical concerns and carbon footprint of industrial meat production.
There is an increasing concern about the impact of food habits on health and a growing need for essential nutrients for a healthy lifestyle. With the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are focusing more on eating healthy, making nutraceuticals a top trend in the food industry. This is a critical element in driving the demand for nutraceuticals. These include nutritional supplements, functional foods, medicinal food, and gut microbiomes enhancement foods such as prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. Scientific research on nutraceuticals suggests that various nutraceuticals provide health benefits against disorders related to oxidative stress such as allergies, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and immune diseases.
3. Food Safety & Transparency
As customers now are more thoughtful about the quality of food products they buy, food safety is a significant concern. With smart labels and standalone food grading devices available to customers, it is easy for them to make knowledgeable decisions before choosing food items. Also, advancements in blockchain and real-time food monitoring using Internet of Things (IoT) devices enable food brands to provide end-to-end traceability. Startups are furthering food safety and transparency by developing cost-effective and scalable monitoring solutions. This increases the trust between food producers and consumers, positively impacting brand credibility and sales.
4. Personalized Nutrition
The rise in nutrition awareness among consumers is driving the demand for personalized nutrition solutions. These are not only limited to nutrigenomics-based diets but also include personal preferences such as sugar- and gluten-free diets, vegan diets, and clean-label food products. Innovations in 3D printing and the adoption of robotics in food assembly lines allow food manufacturers to provide nutrition personalization at scale. Also, at-home blood- and urine-based testing kits enable consumers to determine food habits that best suit their genetic profiles. Furthermore, various tracking devices allow users to track their diet and health conditions to streamline their diet. This allows consumers to dictate their dietary preferences, thereby improving customer convenience and sales.
5. Restaurant Digitization
Restaurant digitization provides enhanced customer experience and enables smooth operation management. Additionally, it allows restaurant brands to gather data points at each stage, enabling data-driven decision-making throughout operations. Moreover, the disruption of the food & beverage industry due to the COVID-19 is causing a shift in restaurants adopting digital management systems across the supply chain. To reduce direct human-to-human contact, restaurants integrate digital menus, self-service kiosks, and cashless payment methods. Furthermore, chatbots and voice bots are up-and-coming tools for assisting customers with food orders and other restaurant-related queries. With customer preference and behavior data, AI-enabled tools offer food recommendations to customers and develop new recipes.
6. Food Waste Reduction
A large fraction of the food produced globally is lost or wasted. Therefore, curbing food wastage is critical to addressing food insecurity. Food entrepreneurs and large corporations now focus on reducing food wastage to minimize environmental footprint and save costs. Food monitoring solutions allow food producers, restaurants, and smart cities to reduce their food waste. Also, there is a paradigm shift from food waste reduction to zero waste approaches in food manufacturing. Food brands are upcycling and reusing food waste to generate value and increase their reach to consumers interested in sustainability.
7. 3D Food Printers
3D food printers enable personalized diets and alternative protein-based meals, as well as precise and reproducible nutrition. Even though material extrusion is the most common food printing method, startups are using laser and inkjet food printing, as well as bioprinting methods, to develop food products. These approaches focus on increasing the quality and precision of 3D-printed food products. Since food brands need products with exact specifications and quality reproducibility, more research is ongoing in 3D food printing for large-scale food production. Such solutions reduce the complexity and costs of food production. Also, 3D printing allows food brands to offer personalized food products at scale without additional tooling and operational costs.
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