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As the world population grows, the energy prices rise and climate change impacts natural resources, innovation in the food and beverage industry has become essential. This is stressed even more by the data released by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and which will also be discussed at Food 4 Future 2022: by 2050 we will need to produce 60% more food in order to feed all of us. So, what are the emerging trends in FoodTech to solve this challenge in 2022?

  • Precision fermentation

The future of fermentation is to combine it with Precision Biology. This technique, based on traditional fermentation, allows us to produce customizable molecules from a simple microorganism in a natural and cost-effective way.

The outcome is a variety of functional ingredients that can include specific features such as aromas, better tasting, or they can even be hypoallergenic. In other words, precision fermentation allows for the highly scalable manufacturing of any ingredient.

In the graph below we can see how trending the topic is: the innovation signals generated in the first quarter of 2022 are already more than half of those produced during the previous year. Before 2021 this matter was hardly generating innovation signals.

Image Source: Linknovate
  • Biopreservation

Extending food life further could help reduce 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Why? Because food waste causes a negative effect on the environment. Preserving food naturally, using microorganisms can be the solution. Bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms derived from plants or animals are being studied as a better way to maintain food quality over time.

Lactic acid is the most studied biopreservation agent. The interest is now shifting towards starter, junction and probiotic cultures that have shown a commercial value in terms of preserving dairy products and improving texture and even flavor. Chr. Hansen is a danish company with a strong R+D+i team that is working with global and local dairies by optimizing their production processes. They have a variety of new cultures that provide high quality, cost effectiveness, consistency, safety and flexibility for modern yogurt producers.

New antibacterial options are being developed to preserve food. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) for example, contained in fruits can help to control and even stop the growth of microorganisms as per this publication from the State University of Norte Fuminense in Campos, Brazil.

Bacteriophages are one of the other trends in confronting food-borne pathogens. The massive use of antibiotics in the food industry has generated antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can find their way from farms to humans through food. Bacteriophages can be used to fight against the bacteria that spoils food and help extend food preservation without changing sensory properties.  They also improve human’s microflora by strengthening probiotics properties. However, there are some cons when using phages in the dairy industry as they can destroy the starter cultures used for fermentation.

Besides the United States, most of the research in this area is happening in heavily populated countries such as India and China as per the graph below:

Image Source: Linknovate
  • Personalized food

The goal of personalized food is boosting health and tackling obesity. The combination of AI technology, personal data, and culinary know-how helps people control their own nutrition and improve their wellbeing.

User-Friendly Sensor and Tech (TFT), a start-up mentored by the Taiwan Startup Institute, has launched a personalised food allergen detection device. It can detect gluten in lower quantities than other devices in less than 2 minutes. This IoT system for on-site food allergen detection, can help the over 30 million people that suffer food allergies in the world.

Personalized food opens the door to designing specific nutritional content, choosing and processing food raw materials to fit personal requirements. In hospitals for example, the Galician startup Coquus, is working on data driven personalised menus to optimise work and improve patients’ safety.

Another revolutionary startup is Genopalate who is taking things one step further by designing bespoke foods based on each individual’s DNA. They define themselves as a “nutritional intelligence company”. Using genomics they decipher your genetic code to offer the best suited meals for a healthier approach to living.

  • Food printing

Closely connected with food personalisation is food printing. Although the current 3D food printing industry is being applied for developing special foods such as combat food, space food or elderly food, the future is to address the mass market.

Customizing from home what you can have for lunch is something Natural Machines, a Spanish startup, is also doing through their product Foodini: a 3D food printing kitchen appliance. Foodini works with food capsules that users fill with their own fresh ingredients to customize food entirely.

3D food printers will allow us to simplify the food supply chain, design our food on an app, and customize the shape, color, texture, flavor, and nutritional score based on our needs from the confort of our home.

The global 3D food printing industry market has a high annual growth, with a CAGR of 18.2% in the forecasted period of 2022-2027 according to Expert Market Research. SavorEat, an Israeli based startup, raised $13M in their IPO in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE). Their proprietary 3D printing technology enables vegan meat to taste and look like traditional meat. You can also personalise flavour and textures based on your specific diet.

Source: Natural Machines
  • Alternative protein sources

One of the pioneers in this area is Impossible Foods, funded by Stanford professor Dr. Patrick O. Brown, the startup has over 45 patents and many publications in the subject. It offers vegan burgers and sausages which are produced from inserting DNA from soy plants into a genetically engineered yeast. The result is vegan meat with the looks of animal meat.

We’ve already talked about the wonders of fungus, but let’s take a look deeper at what innovative companies are doing out there: Mycorena is using fermentation to create a meat-like product from edible fungi; Smallhold provides a subscription based mushroom growing kit for restarurants and other industry professionals; and Meati Foods is using mycelium to offer the market a plant based alternative that consumes less water and less land than any other animal proteins.

Algae has also seen a surge in the food industry. The challenge here is to improve its taste and odour, but Triton Algae Innovation, from San Francisco, is doing just that. Their fermentation technique produces meat-like compounds from algae to offer a vegan and tasty alternative.

New alternative protein sources ingredients have a lower environmental footprint and offer options to feed the increasing world population. The obstacle, however, is to overcome people’s mindset: meat has long been considered an extremely desirable food.

  • Green Packaging

Innovative packaging is a whole subject in its own. Better and greener solutions are being developed worldwide with innovative materials. Tipa, an Israeli startup that offers 100% biodegradable and compostable packaging not only for food but for drinks too.

Ecovative is mixing mycelium (again!)  with hemp agricultural waste to create a natural composite. The result can be easily, and cost effectively moulded. And it’s compostable too.

Source: Ecovative

The food and drink industry is boosting innovation as an answer to the changing market. Human’s impact on the environment requires new, sustainable ways of feeding the world and so FoodTech companies will continue to emerge and innovate to try and solve our eating needs (and create new ones). Linknovate’s platform InnoScout uses machine learning and data mining to discover the relevant key players in the topic and can help you stay up to date in your market.