Is Food Tech the technological future of Essen?

Food Tech connects the food industry with the technology industry. The concept aims to create a more sustainable food system through technological innovation. You can learn about the potential of food technology here.

Today, the food industry and agriculture face an enormous challenge: they must feed the world’s steadily growing population – and that in the context of climate crisiswhich brings increased heat, drought, continuous or heavy rains.

Food Tech wants to be the answer to this challenge. The term refers to technological innovation along the entire food value chain. Food Tech aims, among other things, to make the food industry more sustainable, as well as to offer consumers innovative and healthy products.

What is food technology?

The food industry is contributing to global warming – which in turn has a direct impact on food production.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Anrita1705)

Food Tech describes the connection between the food industry and the technology sector. Food technology companies use, for example, robotics, drones, artificial intelligence and 3D printing. These technologies are a means to an end: they should enable more efficient production processes that, for example, use resources in the best possible way, integrate more recycling and upcycling into food production, and Food waste to avoid.

The overriding goal of Food Tech is to build a more sustainable food system. The numerous problems in food production today show that it is urgently needed:

  • environmental destruction: Global appetite for meat is destroying South America’s rainforests. The reason is that in order to feed the animals, soybeans are grown in large quantities on land that must give way to millions of hectares of forest. In Southeast Asia, tropical forests are shrinking because of Palm oil-Cultivation. Rainforests are important coal storage. Coastal biotopes are also at risk, mainly due to the mass farming of shrimp.
  • global warming: Producing, storing, processing and transporting food requires a lot of energy. It brings bad CON2Balance with you: One-third of greenhouse gas emissions come from global food production. The production of food of animal origin produces 57% of greenhouse gases, food of plant origin 29%. Products such as rubber and cotton account for the remaining 14 percent.
  • Food waste: Worldwide, about 1.3 billion tons of food end up in the bin instead of being eaten. There are twelve million tons in Germany alone. At the same time, up to 811 million people starve the world.

To solve these problems, Food Tech looks at the entire food value chain. Therefore, Forward Fooding, a platform for innovative food production, defines food technology as “an emerging sector that studies how technology can be used to achieve efficiency and sustainability in planning, production, selection, delivery and enjoyment of eating.”

Food Tech: Two Examples with Great Potential

Food 3D printers may soon become commonplace.
Food 3D printers may soon become commonplace.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / mebner1)

For example, there is great potential for innovation in the food industry Artificial intelligence. A project at Augsburg University of Applied Sciences is investigating how this can reduce food waste.

The project uses artificial intelligence already in the production process, especially in the dairy, meat and bakery industries. Due to the high spoilage of the products, significant food losses quickly occur. Artificial intelligence should be able to more accurately forecast the demand for such products to avoid overproduction. Scientists are aiming to reduce food losses by up to 90 percent.

Soon, not only objects could be digitally modeled on a computer, and then with 3D printer are produced in layers, but also more and more of our food. Science has been working on this idea for almost 15 years, which also includes opportunities for more sustainable development.

In the future, food 3D printers can be made from artificially grown cellular tissue Meat without cruelty to animals “press”. Also alternative food and protein sources just like insects, thanks to 3D printing, more visually attractive shapes can be given. Already in 2014, scientists showed how you can create new foods from insect flour and other ingredients using a 3D printer. You can read more about what we could eat instead of meat in the future here: Meat alternatives: what is the meat of the future?

The most developed, however, are less bold approaches that can reinvent ordinary foods such as chocolate, pasta, fruit gums or marzipan. German startup Print4Taste has been involved in 3D food printing since 2014 and now offers a 3D printer for chocolate.

Especially the potential of a food 3D printer personalized food production is also of interest to the healthcare sector. In 2012-2015, the EU therefore funded a project in which 3D printing is used to produce food adapted to the individual nutritional needs of elderly people and people with chewing and swallowing difficulties. Thanks to the 3D printer, it will also be possible to better control the nutritional value of the food: boiled and puree can be treated with additional additives before “printing”. vitamins, minerals and trace elements are enriched.

Food industry startups from Germany

Many food technology companies want to sell functional food.
Many food technology companies want to sell functional food. However, full meals are rarely recommended.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Odlewnia)

Food tech is strongly represented in the German start-up scene – thanks in part to innovation in the areas Vertical farming and so-called “nutraceuticals”, foods that promote health.

Infarm

Berlin-based startup Infarm produces modular growing cabinets that allow you to grow organic herbs and vegetables directly in restaurants or supermarkets. The products are especially fresh. The company grows its own seedlings from organic seeds, which then find optimal conditions in the cupboards for further growth. The technological equipment of the growth modules enables digital monitoring and control of light, moisture and nutrients.

Recently, the cooperation between Infarm and the furniture manufacturer IKEA has been revealed.

living

yfood is one of the many food technology companies looking to combine functionality with increasing nutritional awareness. They offer so-called “complete meals”: drinking meals, drinking powders and bars, which are intended to be nutritionally balanced, healthy and tasty at the same time. Such “complete meals” should practically replace entire traditional meals.

However, the concept is not really innovative. The so-called “astronaut food” in the form of dishes pressed into pastes, bars and pressed cubes first appeared on the cosmonaut table in space in the 1960s. However, the idea of ​​replacing meals with smoothies and powders caught the attention of a wide audience. They were often sold with the prospect of losing weight quickly with such food. You can read why a food-drinking diet doesn’t make sense here: Drink a meal: why it’s not a good idea.

yfood has also been criticized by nutritional experts. Among other things, they relate to the high sugar content and the low calorific value of the food consumed. Innovation in the food industry is therefore not always automatically healthier, and there is also a lot of packaging waste.

agrilution

Startup Agrilution implements a similar concept to Infarm, but for its own home. There you can install the “Plantcube” developed by the company. It is a digitized growing cabinet that provides ideal conditions for growing fresh salads, herbs and microgreen to reign in your own home. The related app shows temperature and humidity, checks them when needed, and lets you know when your vegetables are ready for harvest.

Conclusion: is food technology the future of food?

Food Tech is interesting, but overall make sure you eat a seasonal and regionally balanced diet.
Food Tech is interesting, but overall make sure you eat a seasonal and regionally balanced diet.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / b1-photo)

One thing is certain: the food industry cannot continue as it used to. It is fueling a climate catastrophe and destroying the environment – and thus also its own basis for supplying the world’s population with high-quality and healthy food.

The fact that food technology is booming at the moment is cause for hope. Technology and digitization have already resulted in promising approaches that can be used, for example, to reduce food waste and increase the availability of alternative foods.

However, some food technology innovations only make a limited sense: Instead of drinking food packaged in plastic, it is more sustainable and cheaper to consume as much of the region’s seasonal plant products as possible. Solutions to facilitate gardening within your own four walls can be really helpful.

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Keywords: food knowledge technique

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