I like food, not just because it keeps my body energized; food gives hope to humanity. Researching and writing about food and its technologies didn't have my attention until a recent project on food innovation which has aroused my great interest in the subject. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 820 million people do not have enough food. And this is more than population of all Europe. Gladly, while all attention is geared towards achieving food security by 2030, technology has become central place in this effort. So as 2019 comes to gradually end, here are 5 applications of technology in food this year which I find most interesting:
1. Use of Blockchain Technology in the food supply chain: Food’s origin, handling, and quality can be traced using the blockchain technology. Using unique identifiers every touchpoint of a food item from the production to the consumer is recorded on a digital ledger. Retailers, consumers, and regulatory personnel can use the digital record made accessible through food labelling technologies such as the QR codes. In case of contamination, the blockchain data helps to trace the source in order to forestall more contamination and identify affected batches of food products for recall. It is estimated that the global food traceability market will grow to US$14 billion by 2019.
2. Use of AI in evaluating food wholesomeness: With non-invasive technology using image recognition and predictive learning, it will soon be possible to evaluate the various properties of a dish such as the number of calories, freshness, shelf-life or contamination. With this, consumers can now be in charge of their own exact dietary makeup. Also, food vendors can now advance into personalized meal plans by tailoring their menus to suit their customers’ needs. Through manipulating food image libraries, computer is now able to analyze what exact ingredients that go into preparing your meal.
3. 3D food printers: We can now print food using 3D printers. The technology is able to print, cook and serve meals on a large scale. The innovation also hopes to achieve improvement in the nutritional value of meals, production of appealing sculptures out of everyday food materials, and solve hunger in parts of the world with lack of access to fresh affordable ingredients. The global market for 3D food printing is expected to be worth US$425 million by 2025.
4. Plant-based Dairy Alternatives: Dairy consumers are fast embracing new alternatives in plants. Due to allergies, lactose intolerance, or other dairy sensitivities, plant-based dairy alternatives made from tiger nuts, coconut, almond, cashew, oat, and rice milk are receiving some good push to the marketplace. This is definitely one trend to watch out for in 2019.
5. Portable Lab: With a portable lab in a consumer’s hands, they can make smarter healthier decisions. This lab is a micro-spectrometer that absorbs light reflected from an object, breaks it down into a spectrum, and analyzes it to determine the object’s chemical makeup. So, it can allow consumers to identify the chemical composition of food including nutritional details such as calories, carbohydrates, sugars, etc.
In which of these do you find an easy scale in Africa and why? Kindly share your comments below or send me a message on firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm also eager to know about any other technologies in food innovation which you think trended in 2019.