Food tech start-ups are generating growing investor interest across the globe, and with good reason. Climate change, digitalization, and next-gen tech are driving forces encouraging startups to make change across the value chain. Moreover, we’re now seeing an increased focus on health and wellness, which is resulting in changing consumer diets. From robots to AI, tech advancements are changing how we eat, cook, and serve food. The food industry is quick to experiment with technology with a view to improve offerings and bottom line. Let’s take a look at some up-and-coming food tech trends that are going to gain increased traction in the future.
With the increasing health awareness among consumers, the demand for tasty and healthy food has increased significantly. This has forced companies in the fast food industry to revamp their menu cards and introduce items that will satisfy the demands of the customers. The intention behind revamping the menu cards is to maintain the inclination of consumers towards fast food in the years to come as well.
Automation in the kitchen
We’re seeing restaurant chains use kitchen automation software and robots to automate different elements of cooking and cleaning. The benefits are clear – reduced costs, standardization, and improved quality. Kitchen automation players such as Mukunda Foods are revolutionizing cooking by building cooking bots that consistently produce quality food. Restaurants can thus cut on labour costs while producing quality food every time.
Some kitchen automation software also helps in order management, highlighting instructions to food stations, integrating data from the POS system, and offering customisable options features. Very soon, we’re also going to be seeing smart IoT and AI-backed technologies in the kitchen that give intelligent insights and reduce manual labour.
Service robots are also gaining popularity owing to their many benefits – easy e-order, personalisation of meals, access to wholesome ingredients, and speed of food delivery. For example, Cafe X’s robot arm is trained to prepare delectable cappuccinos, Misto Robotics’ Flippy is a burger grilling master, Spyce uses robots for fast-casual ‘bowled’ meals that are prepared in under three minutes, and Chowbotics’ robot Sally is a fully automated vending machine that prepares healthy bowl-styled meals and salads.
social media has a positive impact on the restaurant business. Accepting social media by restaurants leads to increment in sales and flow of customers. Facebook and Instagram are social media tools used by restaurants. Word of mouth plays a vital role in attracting new customers.
Social media has increased the craze for pictures drastically. Consumers love food items that look good in photos. This has compelled fast food companies to offer items that are visually appealing. However, this doesn’t mean that fast food industry players can play with the taste
With the introduction of digitisation and robotisation has emerged the trend of personalised food products. This trend is timely in light of an increased focus on health and wellness. Companies such as Platejoy are integrating nutritional data and health tracking devices to offer meal plans that are customised to suit specific diets and cooking habits. Another healthcare technology company, Saana, is making use of AI to deliver tailor-made meals to those suffering from chronic health conditions; the meals are focused on helping the patients fight the disease and to maintain health during remission. Complete personalization of individual meals remains a challenge but we’ll see rapid developments in this area in the near future.
Animal-free and plant-based
As technology advances, animal products are being substituted with plant-based alternatives. Catastrophic wildfires in California and poor crop yields in various European nations have drawn greater attention towards climate change. Since this phenomenon is an effect of animal farming and meat consumption, the masses are opting for not just vegetarianism, but veganism – abstinence from all animal products. Impossible Foods recently came out with the second version of their vegan burger, winning the top tech category at CES 2019. Moreover, pea-protein is reigning as the new sports nutrition with several companies such as MusclePharm, Oziva, Evolve, and General Mills coming up with a line of entirely plant-based protein powders and vegan bars (no whey). Today, one no longer needs to “search” for vegan options in a grocery store since big chains such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, even Target offer plant-based meat options. Dairy milk continues to see a number of alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk with oat milk expected to be the hero of 2019 according to Food-X. Additionally, vegan-recipe apps such as Food Monster are becoming popular, with its high-protein vegan category being the most viewed.
Customization is the buzzword and 3D printing offers just the right platform for personalized nutrition. To put it simply, the technology turns food materials into powders and then turns them into customized food products using 3D printing. Not just customized food, the technology also has applications in food storage and creating cutlery. While many technologies are in the development stage, none are widely available. Foodini, by Natural Machines, prints sweet and savoury foods with fresh ingredients and is currently available for professional kitchens. Then there is BeeHex, a 3D pizza printer developed for NASA, that saw big investments from pizza chains.
Restaurants have much to gain from the technology; they can produce visually appealing items by designing new shapes using a 3D printer. Moreover, they can cut the high costs of culinary labour and instead employ 3D printers to produce the same effect. In fact, 3D food printing companies are also working on bringing the technology to consumer households.
From large chain restaurants to small cafes, collecting consumer data is becoming the new norm. Players with deep pockets are processing the swathes of information with AI, mining it uncover consumer habits and preferences, analysing this data to improve profitability.
As the food industry focuses on cutting costs while serving consumers in line with their preferences, it will adopt technologies that enable it to automate recurring processes and consistently offer a quality product.
Now, more than ever is the time to come together to transform our food systems and consumption. These trends show no sign of slowing down.
Are you into Food business wanting to understand how these trends can affect your business and how to benefit from exploring new technologies? Mukunda Foods can help you navigate these trends and provide valuable insights into emerging technologies. Our kitchen bots are serving at more than 2000 kitchens across 22 countries. Feel free to reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org