Trends and innovations

    Emerging food technology trends mark a shift towards sustainable and personalised food choices. These include alternative protein sources, local foods, nutraceuticals, and personalised nutrition. The concern over environmental impacts is causing food brands to integrate waste reduction practices as well as zero-waste workflows. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic had a compelling impact of accelerating the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies throughout the food value chain.
    Food producers are digitising their production floors with robotics, ecommerce, and digital food-management tools. Restaurants are also employing robots for hospitality and cooking, as well as promoting ecommerce. The food industry is tackling the continuing impact of the COVID-19 situation using all the above tools, towards efficient, transparent, and sustainable operations.

Impact Of Food Technology Trends
    Consumers shifting to alternative protein sources is the most significant trend in the food industry. Further, the increased awareness of nutrition and health concerns during the pandemic drives the demand for nutraceuticals and personalised nutrition. Food eCommerce is another big trend that is fueled by the COVID-19 situation. Also, there is a substantial rise in food safety concerns directly impacting food transparency across the food value chain.
    With digitisation being an integral part of the food & beverage industry, companies are adopting restaurant digitisation, digital food management, and food robotics to improve operations. Plus, food brands are focussing on food waste reduction and are adopting zero-waste practices. 3D food printers are also a part of the food technology trends, enabling many other major trends such as meat alternatives and personalised nutrition.

Alternative Proteins
    Consumers are shifting towards alternative protein sources due to both health and environmental concerns, making it one of the most relevant food technology trends. Cultured meat, plant, edible insects, and mycoprotein-based foods are the primary alternative protein sources at present. Not only are they nutrient-rich, but they also minimise 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 enabling to develop sustainable alternative protein production solutions. This helps food companies offset the ethical concerns and footprint of industrial meat production.
    FERMOTEIN, a proprietary animal-free alternative protein source. FERMOTEIN production involves brewing non-allergenic crops and fungi with essential amino acids and fiber. The alternative protein has 10% fat and water binding properties, contributing to a meat-like taste. FERMOTEIN is a pure ingredient with only brewed fibrous protein. The solution helps sustainable food developers save time in food as it does not need additional processing to adapt the taste for end products.

    There is an increasing concern for 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 emerging 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 microbiome 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 allergy, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and immune diseases.
    Providing functional foods & beverages and nutraceuticals. They utilise natural ingredients to prevent and manage malnutrition. Also, Voll Sante’s nutraceutical products help consumers avoid chronic diseases and thereby reduce healthcare costs. This, in effect, turns the focus of healthcare from reactive to preventive. The nutraceuticals are available as protein and vitamin supplements, immunity boosters, and breakfast cereals.

    Ecommerce has been in the spotlight in the food & beverages industry for a while now. But, the COVID-19 situation further pushed innovations in food supply chains. Food brands utilise digital platforms to offer on-demand online delivery services and reach customers through direct-to-customer (D2C) distribution models.
    Also, the safety concerns during the pandemic are promoting the growth of ghost kitchens or cloud kitchens that offer only food takeout and deliveries. Along with D2C, brands are focussing on omnichannel distribution to improve customer experience and improve sales. Moreover, food & beverage ecommerce helps food manufacturers to reach their customers better as well as ensure availability.
    Providing individual kitchen spaces to quickly start delivery businesses. At present, 143 kitchens with adequate hygiene management and workflow from material storage to cooking, packaging, and delivery. Also, Ghost Kitchen enables data-driven planning services through a shared data collection from the entire individual kitchens. In effect, minimises expenses for contracts and interiors by directly offering standalone kitchens for restaurants and other food delivery entrepreneurs.

 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 the Internet of Things (IoT) devices enable food brands to provide endto-end traceability. Further, advancing traceability and transparency of food products by developing cost-effective and scalable monitoring solutions. This increases the trust between food producers and consumers, positively impacting brand credibility and sales.
    Providing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform to automate food safety compliance in restaurants. The digital food safety and health, safety, and environment (HSE) management platform allows restaurants to deploy audits and checklists, monitor temperature automatically, as well as track allergens and expiry dates. Further, Qualizy’s solution offers real-time tracking, which helps in food waste reduction. These helps food & beverage companies quickly comply with local food safety regulations without paperwork.

Personalised Nutrition
    The rise in nutrition awareness among consumers is driving the demand for personalised nutrition choices. Personalised nutrition is a fundamental component of food technology trends as consumers desire to understand how dietary habits affect it. These are not only limited to nutrigenomics-based diets but also personal preferences such as sugar and gluten-free diet, vegan diet, and clean label food products. Innovations in 3D printing and the adoption of robotics in food assembly lines allow food manufacturers to provide nutrition personalisation 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. Helping food producers allow their customers to dictate their dietary preferences better, thereby improving customer convenience and sales.
    Developing genetically personalised meal shakes. They offers at-home DNA nutrition tests and utilises the test results to personalise nutrition intake for each individual. NGX’s products are plant-based breakfast and snack shakes that contain 30 essential nutrients including valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, and more. Also, they have minimal calories, fat, and carbohydrate value as well as zero added sugars. NGX’s meal shakes enable customers to reach their fitness goals quicker and lead healthier lives.

Restaurant Digitization
    Restaurant digitisation provides enhanced customer experience and enables smooth operation management. Plus, it helps restaurant businesses to gather data points at each stage, enabling data-driven decision-making throughout the 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 in assisting customers in real-time with food orders and any other restaurant-related queries. With customer preference and behavior data, AI-enabled tools offer food recommendations to the customers and develop new recipes.
    Providing end-to-end restaurant digitisation services, purchasing support, and data-driven metrics. The Kitchen App and Waiter allow kitchen staff and waiters to monitor the order flow in real-time and serve the customers efficiently. The E-Menu and E-Payments assist customers in contactless transactions during dine-in and take-out through digital menus and QR codes.   Furthermore, Lean Restaurant offers a whole set of tools, Cashier POS, Online Ordering Systems, CRM, and Delivery System, to streamline restaurant operations. Other solutions help restaurants in hospitality management and accounting.

Digital Food Management
    Big data analytics and AI, along with real-time monitoring, enable digital food management from farm to fork. Develop food management solutions to help food producers optimise manufacturing processes and supply chain operations. Moreover, restaurant digitisation further optimises customer behavior analysis and demand forecasting using real-time data acquisition on food products and consumers.
    Altogether, these solutions help food producers better understand market requirements and predict disruptions, thereby reducing losses and managing surplus food. For example, quantum computing helps analyze critical disruptions, such as pandemics, and simulate market fluctuations efficiently. Additionally, customer and market intelligence allows brands to optimie their marketing strategies and effectively reach the relevant audience, boosting sales.
    Offering a cloud-based procurement and inventory system for food & beverage businesses. The solution automates the supply chain through real-time inventory tracking and automatically generates purchase orders. Also, it emails the purchase orders to the suppliers. The smartphone app allows restaurant managers to handle all procurement in a single place. Food Market Hub helps restaurants forecast purchases by analysing weather reports, past data, and holiday calendars for better inventory control.

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 minimise environmental footprint and save costs. Food monitoring solutions help food producers, restaurants, and smart cities 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. For example, 3D food printing solutions that use food waste to print edible food products curb food waste.
    Food Drop connects stores with unsold or surplus food to local charities, schools, and community groups. The online platform allows stores and charities to sign up, which then matches the stores and local charities. Food Drop’s automated platform ensures a supply of charities to collect the surplus from stores at the end of the day. Also, if a charity is unavailable for pick up, the platform notifies stores in real-time. The solution provides monthly reports on donated food and carbon savings.

    The food & beverage industry incorporates robotics into the entire value chain to advance efficiency, consistency, and scale during food production. Food brands also deploy hospitality robots at hotels and restaurants to improve customer convenience and safety. Robotic chefs and food processing robots further fuel food robotics as a prominent food technology trend.
    Also, autonomous drones and vehicles are emerging to be efficient substitutes for manual delivery services while saving overall costs. Drones and other food handling robots at warehouses and grocery stores enable fast and cost-effective food tagging and monitoring. In effect, the robotics bloom in the food industry is expediting food production revenue with enhanced speed and precise food quality control.
    Developing AI-based autonomous robotic kitchens for restaurants, grocery stores, and office spaces. The ARK 03 robot uses proprietary software for autonomous operation of kitchen tasks, including hot and cold food storage, preparation, plating, cleaning, and sanitising. Additionally, ARK 03 features automatic ordering and inventory control that keeps a tab on ingredient supply and automatically requests refills from wholesalers. ROBOEATZ’s solution improves the efficiency of food production while requiring minimal human intervention and adhering to effective food safety practices.

3D Food Printers
    3D food printers enable personalised diet and alternative protein-based meals, as well as precise and reproducible nutrition. Even though material extrusion is the most common food printing method,  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 the 3D-printed food.
    Since food brands need food products with the 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 personalised food products at scale without additional tooling and operational cost.
    Producing plant- or cell-based animal protein analogs using 2D/3D laser printing, bioprinting, and robotics. They offers LEVEL-UP inkjet 3D printers and LASERGLOW laser 2D/3D printers for food producers. The LASERGLOW is accurate to design specifications and supports 3D shapes as well as hyper-personalisation. On the other hand, LEVEL-UP is suitable for product customization with surface filling at scale. The 3D printers allow restaurants and food brands to personalize their products without tooling changes and help in improving the brand reach, boosting sales.