The food and drink industry is immersed in debate. From topics like food waste, consumer desire and the next food technology innovation, people are asking how will we grow, distribute and consume food in 2050? What’s next for food production, and how can we ensure a transparent food supply chain?
With the ever-increasing need to protect our environment, the continual mass manufacturing of the next best thing is putting a strain on the industry. With this in mind, many brands, industry insiders and even consumers are thinking to the future and asking, what is the future of food?
Insects have been a hot topic, with several food start-ups launching foods containing edible insects, making it accessible to the everyday consumer. Whilst this sector is still in a juvenile stage, there is great potential for brands to deliver a sustainable protein source. Other food companies have been focusing on the need to reduce sugar and salt content in food and look for more natural resources.
The rise of stevia, the promise of yacon and the potential for Douxmatok’s sugar alternative, to name a few, showcase how the industry is working to change, innovate and produce “healthy” alternatives. Similarly, the role of packaging is a key topic, with discussions surrounding what information to deliver to consumers on pack and the recent news that Mars is launching a campaign to encourage healthy choices with new labelling on its food products.
We’re taking a look at three companies who are looking to the future and are trying to provide an answer to the questions.
New Wave Foods – sustainable seafood
Two years ago, New Wave Foods was started up by a marine conservation graduate student and a materials scientist in response to their increasing concern about the environmental and human-rights costs of fresh seafood. In a bid to combat the shocking statistics revealed by FAO that for “every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by catch”, the team are on a mission to create sustainable seafood, with the aim of providing “food that is healthier for us and better for the environment”.
The start-up has developed an original way to produce the seafood in a laboratory, their first product being shrimp. Whilst produced in a lab, the team claim it is not the same process as lab cultured beef. Instead they break down red algae, the food that gives prawns their colouring, and combine it with plant-based protein powder. They claim that this “shrimp”, looks and tastes like the real thing, down to the texture and smell. The team are currently working with start-up accelerator IndieBio and plan to launch their first ocean-free seafood this year.
No Salt Restaurant – salt-reducing cutlery
A research fellow at the University of Tokyo, Hiromi Nakamura, has invented a fork which could help diners reduce their salt intake. Designed for people with high blood pressure and on a low salt diet, this futuristic fork replicates the sensation of consuming salt at the push of a button. Alongside Nakamura, a team of specialists helped create and design the fork, including Doctor Takashi Ishii and Creative Director Kohei Kawasaki from J. Walter Thompson Japan.
The fork works by generating an electrical current which “zaps” the tongue. In doing so, it mimics the sour, bitter and metallic taste sensations. The device only cost the team £12 to create and is based on the fact that a human tongue detects salt or sour flavours when electricity is applied to it.
Whilst the fork has a battery life of six hours and can deliver three levels of electrical current, meaning different degrees of taste sensation, there has been little research into the health and safety of the gadget.
To date, the fork has been tested at a restaurant known as the No Salt Restaurant in Japan, which is a concept restaurant that offers salt-free full-course meals. The team are looking to expand their reach and offer consumers the chance to try the utensil.
Clara Foods – eggs
In 2015, San Francisco-based start-up Clara Foods announced it had created chicken-free egg whites. After successfully raising $1.75 million for its innovation, the team hope its product will replace traditional egg whites in pastas, baked goods, and protein supplements and attract not just vegans, but all consumers. To create the product, genes for egg whites are inserted into yeast. This then ferments in large, vat-like, tanks and creates a product which is genetically identical to eggs.
According to the start up, “current farming practices require six hundred gallons of water to produce just over a dozen eggs”. With this in mind and the issues that many organisations, including Peta, have brought to light regarding animal welfare issues in the industry, Clara Food’s innovation aims to offer a sustainable, cruelty free solution to these problems.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020