13 May The Future of Food: Themes from Food Edge 2019
May 13, 2019
Sustainable, environmentally friendly, plant based, and health-conscious. That is the future of food. From start-up companies like Motif Ingredients and Cambridge Crops to large companies like Panera Bread and IBM Food Trust, innovators in the food industry are creating new products and services to nourish our growing population with healthy food choices.
Earth is home to 7.7 billion people, and we all need to eat. We are currently able to produce enough food for everyone, but that won’t be the case for long. Innovators are creating new ways of growing and producing healthy food that is energy efficient. They are also exploring with new foods that are energy efficient to grow or make, which are likely to be plant-based like the Impossible Burger.
Another important aspect of sustainability is reducing waste, both food waste and packaging. Companies like Cambridge Crops are creating water soluble coatings that can easily be washed off. These coating will be an alternative to plastic wrap. Other companies like Oatly are finding productive uses of production by-products. Oatly is sending the insoluble fiber that is exacted from the oats during the oat milk making process to mushroom farms as fertilizer.
Along with taste, nutritional content, cost, and convenience, an increasing number of food decisions are also being made based on environmental impact, according to Joe DeStephano of Hood. Don’t be surprised if packaging of the future has a label indicating which processed foods have a low impact on the environment.
New types of packaging, like the coating Cambridge Crops is working on, will help reduce the environmental impact associated with fresh produce and meat. Slowing down the metabolic rate and thereby increasing the shelf life will change how fresh food is shipped. Shipments can be less frequent because the food lasts longer. In some cases, food could be shipped at higher temperatures, meaning less energy spent on refrigerated trucks.
There is no doubt that the future of food is plant-based. As a consumer, expect to see more and more plant-based products on supermarket shelves. If major restaurant chains are offering a plant-based burger, anything is possible! Even cheese spreads made from oat milk! These new products are born from a combination of creativity, necessity, and science. Keep an eye out for more about the science behind these foods in future ETP articles.
Last but not least, the future of food is health-conscious. “Natural” foods and “better-for-you” products are flying off the shelves. Grocery store shelves are already full of products with probiotics to support gut health. As we learn more about the microbiome, expect to see more foods touting claims of promoting gut health. Some of these foods will likely be fresh produce, which is a large component of the popular Mediterranean diet and the up-and-coming Nordic diet.
Food innovation is currently focused on being more sustainable, reducing the environmentally impact, incorporating more plant-based foods, and staying health-conscious. To stay up-to-date with the future of food and science behind it, sign up for ETP blog email updates or follow ETP on social media.