September 5, 2019

Food Tech Is the Future


Art picture

2018 was a golden year for food tech startups. We look at what this means, and how this fits into the cheffing world.

According to PitchBook, 2018 saw a decade-hugh record for venture capital investment in the food tech space, with food startups like the unicorn DoorDash and Instacart valued at US$4.4 billion.

Some of the driving forces behind the tech startups are climate change, digitisation, and heath-focussed consumers. Here’s a look at some of the food technology trends transforming the industry as we know it.

Plant-Based and Animal Free

One of major influences of food tech is a move to healthier living. Animal farming and meat consumption is being reconsidered by many food producers. One such local farmer making a difference in South Africa’s backyard is Farmer Angus of Spier, whose regenerative farming techniques brings a whole new meaning to sustainability.

Impossible Foods recently launched the 2.0 version of its vegan burger at CES 2019. As process decrease and sensorial quality increase, products like this will continue to gain popularity.

Restaurant Digitisation and Robots

Food service robots will be making waves in the coming years, as will e-restaurants, says Carin Gerhardt of The Startup. Examples of this include Spyce and Eatsa, which bring together the convenience of ordering online, personalisation of meals, access to nutritional ingredients, and the speed of getting food at a counter. CafeX’s robot arm is trained to prepare the perfect cappuccino, and the burger flipper robot is a grilling master, says Carin, so it seems in this area, the sky really is the limit.

Goodbye Single-Use Plastics

With the world turning its eye to the harmful ills of plastic and the wasteful ways of the food industry in its use, many countries are placing a ban on single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery, plates and stirrers. CPG giants like Danone and Coca Cola signed an ambitious agreement during Our Ocean Global Conference to significantly reduce plastic generation and disposal. Technologies taking their place are biodegradables and plastic-free solutions, with many companies leading the charge for packaging innovation.

Functional Beverages Boom

The kombucha market, one of the main food trends in this bracket, increased by nearly 41% in 2017, and is expected to be worth US$1.8 billion by 2020. According to Howard Telford, Senior Beverage Analyst at Euromonitor International, “There is a shift toward consumers viewing beverages as a sort of preventative nutrition occasion. People are interested in functionality, and instead of asking, ‘What’s in this bottle’, they’re asking, ‘What is this bottle doing for me?’”

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