No matter where we are in the world, no matter our skin color, our gender, height, weight, religion, or any other factor that so commonly separates us, we all have one thing in common–a need for food. Even when our tastes differ, at the heart of every society are the meals that nourish us and bring together family and friends.
In the food industry, technology is changing the way we look at food from growth to consumption to the meaning food has to the consumer.
Here are the top five food technology trends in 2017:
1. Intelligently grown food using big data, IoT, and artificial intelligence
Humans create a lot of a data. For example, over 400 hours of Youtube videos are uploaded every minute. Nature, including our crops and livestock, also generate massive amounts of data which, in the right context, can help farmers grow with the utmost efficiency. Sensors in the Internet of Things are implemented in an agricultural context to measure moisture levels in the soil, monitor for diseases in plants and animals alike, and even keep track of bovine happiness with this Cowlar for optimal milk production.
Artificial intelligence can be used as an added layer to give meaning and actionable insight to farm data. Combined, data like this helps farmers conserve water, use pesticides only as needed, and ethically increase life satisfaction and production for everyone involved.
2. Beyond the farm…Cellular agriculture
Animals consume plants and convert those nutrients into things we eat and drink such as milk and beef. Several companies have taken cows completely out of this equation, and instead derive the same proteins that animals create directly from the plant source.
For example, these processes allow for the creation of plant-based meats that look and taste like ground beef from cows, but that is safer for consumers and never involves a cow. The same is true for milk that can be made to taste just like cow’s milk, but without the health concerns that come from cow-produce milk, nor the ethical concerns surrounding dairy farms.
Forbes created a great list of these companies, as follows:
3. Ethically grown and nutrient dense
Gen Z is demanding a lot more from everything they buy, and food is no exception. Brands that can offer high-quality foods while maintaining transparency with their customers are quicker to get the cash of Gen Z.
Companies that give back to the community have an added bonus. For example, GIVN donates a day of water to a person in need for every bottle purchased.
4. High-tech kitchen gadgets like 3D printers and IoT devices
3D printed food has gotten a lot of attention, and even high-end, luxury restaurants are now using this new culinary tool to create foods in structures that were previously impossible. It’s possible to make intricate chocolate creations, structurally-unique crackers, even pizza with 3D printers. They aren’t just for the five-star chef, either. 3D food printers are available to everyday consumers to experiment with in the comfort of their own kitchens.
Beyond 3D printers, IoT devices are also finding their way into the kitchen. Fridges that know when to order more food and crockpots that can be monitored and controlled from afar are just a couple of the smart kitchen options.
5. Enhanced foods in virtual reality
Why eat in this world when you can eat in virtual reality? Virtual reality is adding a new layer to the culinary experience, because, in VR, dinner can be anything you want. This solution has been proposed as a possible solution to end food shortages.
For example, Project Nourished offers a full VR suite that touches all the senses–even smell–to trick users’ brains into believing that the molecular gastronomy-type substances they’re consuming (like agar agar) are the foods the see on their virtual plate.
With the addition of nutrients, these virtual foods can leave people experientially sated while maintaining proper health using only affordable, sustainable ingredients.