New food technology trends have internally transformed the food and beverage manufacturing industry and associated businesses, resulting in positive changes and improvements across the board. These trends, however, are not all techniques in the traditional sense.
Everything from packaging techniques and materials to facility equipment is part of the innovation that the food and beverage industry can expect to see.
Here are 6 food innovations you should know about.
1. Plant-Based, Animal-Free Products
Plant-based, animal-free meat alternatives have exploded in popularity in recent years, owing largely to concerns about climate change, questions about the ethics of factory farming, and health trend after health trend.
Diners are increasingly looking for healthier, more sustainable meat alternatives, with sales of alternative meats and poultry expected to grow from $1.3 billion in 2020 to $2 billion by 2024.
Why not try substituting plant-based alternatives for some of your favorite meat dishes? Soy is an innovative food and energy alternative that provides far more benefits than meat.
Consumers have begun to focus on a more complete protein to meet dietary wants and needs as they become more educated about the food they eat and the variety of proteins available. Two-thirds (67%) of adults believe that consuming a complete plant-based protein is essential, and one-fifth believe it is extremely important.
Soyfoods can add valuable nutrition and health benefits to plant-based diets ranging from flexitarian to vegan. Soy can be a source of fiber, protein, essential fats, and minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium, whether consumed as a traditional soyfood like tofu or edamame or as an ingredient in a meat substitute, but the exact amounts vary depending on how the soybeans are processed.
2. Plastic-Free and Smart Packaging
Many food manufacturers have used plastic in some form or another for decades because it has always been the cheapest and most convenient solution. Consumer perceptions are shifting due to recent advances in the fight against climate change, and they are looking to manufacturers to make some green changes.
Single-use plastics were banned in many countries worldwide, including the United States, beginning with the European Union. Companies have used edible and biodegradable packaging in some cases. Food-grade polymers, such as seaweed, are used in edible packaging and are safe for consumption.
Biodegradable packaging is made of polymer-derived plastic that degrades with the assistance of living organisms. Even if customers do not consume edible packaging, it will degrade naturally over time without harming the environment.
Smart packaging, also known as “nano-packaging,” is a type of “nano-packaging” that uses nanotechnology to detect microbial changes in foods, either physically or chemically. The nanotechnology used in the packaging can help determine the safety and quality of the food item, as well as whether it is close to spoiling.
3. The Use of Forward Osmosis
The concentration process in food processing plants helps keep food products fresh for as long as possible before they reach consumers. The CSIRO organization in Australia has researched this area with assistance from a membrane technology company in the United States. The two companies collaborated to develop a new preservation method that uses membrane technology to concentrate liquids in a process known as “forward osmosis.”
Forward osmosis is a “kinder” method of concentrating food that requires less energy and no heat. This also aids in the natural retention of nutrients such as proteins and vitamins during processing. Compared to traditional concentration methods, the result is a higher-quality product.
4. A Focus on Transparency and Trust
Over the last 30 years, large-scale recalls have eroded consumer trust in the food industry. Another trend you can expect to see in the coming year is members of the food industry’s upper echelon working to regain customers’ trust, realigning their values, and being more transparent overall.
Smaller e-commerce-based food and beverage brands’ continued success will push larger brands to do more in corporate social responsibility to remain competitive.
Using new technologies such as blockchain and traceability enablers will assist companies in improving themselves and their reputation by more closely tracking product origins and quality, in addition to the myriad of other tactics manufacturers can employ to become more trustworthy in the eyes of their consumers.
5. Modernization of Old Processing Techniques
The food industry is returning to tried-and-true processing methods with updated technology and other enhancements. With the growing popularity of fermented foods and beverages, one technique, in particular, has seen a strong revival.
The original and ancient fermentation method involved combining decaying fruit with ingredients such as wild rice and saliva in bowls and allowing them to ferment in small batches. We’ve learned over the centuries how to streamline the fermentation process and eliminate some of the less desirable ingredients.
With precision temperature controls, advanced analysis implements, and other equipment that helps meet the growing demand for these products safely, technology has made large-batch fermentation even safer and easier.
6. A Modern Drainage System
New drainage systems provide improved safety and sanitation in food and beverage processing facilities.
The Slot Drain, for example, modernizes the traditional trench drain system with its grateless design that is pre-sloped to prevent standing water and bacterial growth.
The 10,000 Series Slot Drain system is made of high-quality stainless steel resistant to temperature, corrosion, odor, and bacteria. With a Load Class E rating for heavy-duty equipment, the system can withstand high flow rates and heavy forklift traffic.
Most importantly, Slot Drain is quick and simple to clean and maintain, with automated cleaning options such as Flush-Flo and clean-in-place considerations.
Importance of Food Innovation
Food innovation is developing new food products and manufacturing processes to find more nutritious food products.
Consumer expectations and demands constantly change, and retailers look for new products to meet these needs. In the food industry, innovation is the vital spark that ensures profitability.
Right now, innovation is happening at a breakneck pace. Food companies have had to implement diversification and innovation to maintain a competitive edge in an already competitive industry with the rise of the ‘vegan’ era. More and more consumers are looking for sustainable and environmentally friendly food products, with the plant-based industry experiencing significant growth in recent years.
Sustainability and environmental issues, such as climate change, are challenges that will necessitate a great deal of effort and creative solutions both now and in the future. Climate change has a significant impact on food businesses and innovation. According to the University of Oxford researchers, eliminating meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73%.
Positive impact on company culture:
Innovation also positively impacts company culture because it improves employees’ ability to acquire, create, and apply competencies, skills, and knowledge. Innovative practices contribute to developing a culture of continuous learning and growth.
Food technology trends evolve rapidly, bringing new developments and trends each new year. Even if a change appears minor, it can have a significant and long-term impact on the market.
By gathering this information up front, the industry can better predict shelf-life, which can help a restaurant with freshness management.
This is an exciting time for food innovation, and these trends can only benefit the industry. Follow innovations and think about how you could use them in your restaurant.