Thanksgiving 2017: Technology and Food Come Together

Food Technology Halloween 2017

Thanksgiving has always been about two integral parts of our lives: family and food. This is perhaps why stakeholders across both the food and technology industries have looked for creative ways to appeal to the masses during this festive season. More than just exotic food items or vegan alternatives, this year’s Thanksgiving is about how food and beverages industry has seamlessly adopted technology.

Food technology is everywhere: From promoting local food to tracking of food waste

After the great green revolution, the latest developments in food technology have been critical to the global food market. The farm to table movement is quickly catching on, whereas there is also significant demand for non-GMO food products. The bottom line is that organic food is no longer just a fad –it’s now an everyday concept.

After making its debut in the automotive, medical, and education industries, 3D printing technology has now begun making its market in the food industry.A company called 3D Systems recently teamed up with Hershey to print chocolate. It is clear that 3D printed food has paved the way for great opportunities in terms of personalized food, automated cooking, and mass manufacturing.  Natural Machines, the makers of the first 3D food printer,are following the trend by focusing on providing healthier food options.

Another interesting way in which technology has made inroads into the food production industry is through the tracking of food waste. At present, close to 40% of food in America is wasted almost every year. App makers have come up with a perfect solution to bring down this percentage and reduce food wastage. Restaurants these days can provide deals on food rather than letting it be wasted. As industry analysts, what we understand is that creativity is the key which has been extensively used to disrupt the market. The best example for this can be a platform named LeftoverSwap which matches people with leftover food to others in their area who would like to purchase cheap food and pick it up.

Also, apps like Leloca and Tons have made it easier for restaurants and families to easily handle food waste and manage grocery.

IoT, drones, and access to recipes

IoT has already entered farms in the form of crop yield monitoring and irrigation technologies. Beyond this the food technology has also opened doors for sensors and drones. Vendors see immense potential in drones which can perform as extra farm hands as well as enable farmers to locate areas based concerns like damaged plants, acidity of the soil, as well as requirement for pesticides and fertilizers.

Though there is a potential threat of IoT and drones taking away employment, especially in countries like China, India, and Pakistan – the advantages of adopting this technology in improving the overall quality of food produce has not gone unnoticed amongst the governments in this region. At the same time, OEMs of drones are having a tough time entering these traditional market spaces due to a lack of in-depth understanding of the local climate and produce, and policy & licensing issues. This is one challenge which even industry stalwarts like John Deere, and DigiReach are working to overcome.

Lastly, as families go smaller, recipes are no longer passed on from grandmas to grandkids. Thus, the dependency on online platforms for traditional recipes is on a rise. Several surveys show that tablets and smartphones have actually changed the way we cook. In fact, there is greater potential for better ROI from online food and recipe portals, than publishing cookbooks. This development further explains why most popular names in the food industry, cooks, and chefs have a strong online presence as well.

Even in the emerging economies, people prefer YouTube videos over recipe books to cook a special meal. Due to this trend, a lot of revenue has been generated from advertisements on YouTube and other online platforms.

As vendors and major stakeholders in the food and beverages industry brace themselves to inculcate technological innovations in their work process, it will be interesting to witness how occasions like Thanksgiving are leveraged for the overall benefit of the industry.