A relatively new ecosystem, FoodTech was created to enhance efficiency and sustainability in producing, enjoying, designing, delivering, and choosing food.
Innovative technology is disrupting virtually every market sector today, and the food industry is no exception.
The Taxonomy of FoodTech
FoodTech comprises six main categories.
FoodTech begins with startups designed to disrupt agriculture, developing solutions to improve farming output and quality, relying on innovations like farm management software, drones, and sensors. AgTech is also about urban farming, next generation farms, and new farm products. The sector has revolutionary potential in terms of boosting global food security, helping farms to grow in both yield and revenue, as well as improving efficiency for farmers.
2. Supply Chain
This arm covers aspects such as storage, including smart and autonomous stores to improve in-shop consumer experiences and make storage more efficient. Addressing the food supply chain as a whole, including digitalization and automation, this aspect also encompasses packaging, waste management, and supply chain data analysis.
3. Food Service
Food service startups are reinventing hospitality, improving management of out-of-home businesses and creating conditions for the restaurants of the future, incorporating innovations like robotics and cloud kitchens. This element covers all aspects of foodservice management, including payment services and reservation platforms.
The pandemic triggered unparalleled demand for food delivery. In addition to restaurant and grocery deliveries, meal kits and discovery boxes experienced a surge in interest. Delivery also covers aspects of grocery e-commerce platforms, including store and farm-to-home delivery and delivery robotics, e.g., drones and autonomous cars for food deliveries. In fact, FoodTech delivery is one of the hottest topics in hospitality today, with some platforms, like Discovery Box, having realized massive success before falling flat, and others, like Deliveroo, going from strength to strength.
5. Food Science
Innovative startups are developing not just new food products, but also new ingredients, including alternative proteins and additives to replace sugar, making food not only healthier, but tastier, too.
6. Consumer Tech
This subsection covers businesses created to develop devices and services to help consumers identify and cook foods that align with their goals. Consumer tech covers a variety of elements, including nutrigenomics startups, analyzing consumers’ biomarkers, and providing personalized recommendations on foods to avoid or consume. It also incorporates businesses that focus on creating tourist experiences around food-related points of interest, such as vineyards, or reinventing access to cooking classes.
FoodTech Trends in 2022
The food industry has seen some colossal market shifts since the emergence of COVID-19. Some of the most common industrywide trends witnessed through 2022 have included the following:
Today, it is possible to order food via a computer or smartphone, with food freshly prepared and delivered to your door in short order. Digitization has enabled consumers to get their meals faster and more conveniently than ever.
Personalized food is designed to boost health and tackle obesity, using a combination of personal data, culinary know-how, and AI technology to enable consumers to exercise autonomy over their nutrition and improve their health and wellbeing.
Continuing the theme of health and nutrition, organizations like WHO warn of an impending obesity time bomb, the negative impact of unhealthy food habits, and a general failure to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. There is a rising trend for nutraceuticals in the food industry today. Incorporating nutritional supplements, gut microbiome enhancement foods, functional foods, and medicinal foods, research suggests that nutraceuticals can have a significant impact in countering the symptoms of a variety of health conditions, including allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
4. Waste Reduction
Today, startups that focus on helping businesses to reduce food waste are becoming increasingly popular with environmentally conscious consumers. Monitoring solutions like Kitro and Phood have experienced increased traction in recent months, with hikes in food prices putting pressure on businesses to minimize waste as much as possible.
For consumers with food allergies, eating out can be a minefield, with mix-ups and mistakes over ingredients in some cases proving fatal. Partners in the food industry are coming under increasing pressure to be more open about their ingredients. Aside from health concerns, consumers are also becoming increasingly environmentally and socially aware, seeking out players that are consistently open about where they source their ingredients and how they make their food, allowing consumers to make better-informed choices.
6. AI, Automation, and Robotics
Technological advancements like robotic chefs have the potential to revolutionize the entire restaurant value chain, enhancing operational efficiency, consistency, and scale. Experts predict significant growth in this aspect over the months to come, as the food industry comes to recognize the significant advantage conferred in terms of enhanced efficiency, precision, speed, and food quality control.
For all players operating in the food industry today, leveraging FoodTech in its myriad forms could have a revolutionary impact on trade, setting restaurants apart from the competition and transforming the industry completely.