The world is fast changing due to technology, population, economic growth, and other aspects. As the world changes, all industries are changing with it, and one of the industries currently experiencing fast growth is the food industry. The industry is one of the fast-growing due to the pressure to feed the global population and curb disasters such as hunger.
The world is currently demanding a lot of food due to the growing population; the challenge is that many factors limit food production, hence the need for some advancements to boost production. Some advancements are driven by technical growth, while others are purely demand and supply driven. Here are some industry changes and advancements you should know.
Innovating the food production process
Due to adverse weather conditions, declining soil quality, wars, and other conditions, food production is globally declining, hence the need for innovation to boost production. The introduction of vertical farms is already solving vegetable production processes in densely populated cities and countries such as Singapore. The vertical maximizes the production space and process increasing productivity from a smaller space.
On a small scale, innovations are rising to increase food production for subsistence consumption. The technologies involved mixed farming, but at complementary levels, i.e., one production method complements the other. One of these technologies is aquaponics, which involves rearing fish and crop production within the space. The combination helps supply nutrients needed by both fish and crops, minimizing chemical use and promoting global food sustainability.
Other indoor farming technologies are helping reduce the wastage of critical resources such as water and fertilizers needed for production. The farms are increasing in capacity due to the use of technology that controls light, water, nutrition, and supply of other essentials needed for the crops. The indoor technologies, innovative food and energy processes recycle most materials while minimizing production costs and increasing quantity.
Stem technology is also revolutionizing food production and can be a potential competitor for animal production. The technology uses stem technology to create foods such as sausages reducing the burden on pork and beef production. The main factor driving these experimentations is to reduce the carbon emission by other agricultural production processes, especially amongst commercial and large-scale producers. The other advantage is the costs since lab production only requires limited sources; however, they face ethical concerns and still undergo different tests before authorization by agencies such as FDA.
Artificial intelligence in the food industry
As technology advances, the food industry is also adjusting to the new technologies and using them to boost issues such as food productivity, security, quality inspection, and other needs. One of the applications is using artificial intelligence to monitor growth conditions. In agricultural farms, the robots monitor crop performance and infections and submit the relevant data needed to determine the provision of germination and productivity essentials.
To ensure consistency in the food supply chain, the industry is currently adopting blockchain technology to streamline the supply chain process, especially for the supply of relief foods that are vulnerable to theft and misappropriation. Blockchain technology eliminates the need for third-party surveillance to monitor the supply process. Blockchain is critical for preventing food crises such as mass poisoning since it is easier to trace supplies controlled by blockchain technologies.
Technology to curb food wastage
Food wastage is one of the factors contributing to food insecurity globally. There is an increased trend of people disposing of products before reaching their shelf life. Currently, manufacturers are trying out new technologies to extend food shelf life. In continents such as Africa, where refrigeration equipment is limited, these companies are trying out different technologies and production procedures to increase food shelf life.
Some of these procedures are proven for mass production to ensure the products remain fresh and normal for a while. One of the main areas targeted by these technologies is fresh vegetables, fruits, and foods such as fish and meat that tend to go bad fast unless persevered. These technologies are also currently being implemented in food stores and vending places to promote food preservation in case they cannot be used in homes. This enables the stores to preserve the foods longer instead of throwing them away.
One of the technologies is High-Pressure Processing (HPP), a cold pasteurization method that involves subjecting the foods to certain temperatures ranging from low to high. The temperature range is crucial for preserving food’s flavor, nutritional value, appearance, and texture. The methods eliminate the previous use of chemicals and preservatives. The technology is predicted to increase food stocks on shelves by 400% by 2035.
Diversifying focus on a balanced diet
For a long time, the focus on a balanced diet heavily relied on animal proteins to provide all the needed proteins; however, this is fast changing due to the declining production of essential animal proteins. The shift currently focuses on boosting animal protein production to supplement animal production and reduce the climatic impacts. Companies like Exo are currently focusing on insect production to manufacture snacks such as protein bars to supplement animal protein production. Research indicates that insect protein contains about 40% protein, enough to achieve balanced diet needs.
The other change is shifting focus to plant protein products, such as producing animal milk to supplement dairy milk production, which is currently declining and contributing to environmental complications. Companies are currently focusing on producing soy milk and other soy protein products, such as tofu, on relieving the pressure from animal proteins. The plant-based proteins are currently hailed as sustainable sources of protein to boost uptake amongst different people.
The main driver for advancement and innovations in the food industry is to increase global food production, reduce the impact of agriculture on global warming and fight global hunger. So far, technologies such as food production, preservation, diversification, and modification play an integral role, but more effort is necessary.