With a growing customer base of now 7.8 billion people on the planet, the pressure on food and agriculture production are constantly growing. The strain on water, land and labour resources demands for innovation in the industry to keep up with global food needs. Changing consumer behaviour has already started trending before COVID-19 hit, but the pandemic revealed a need for faster change and adaptation towards more sustainable, customisable and higher quality of products. Multinational corporations with all its resources are best placed to drive change, but smaller-scale, new tech start-ups bring innovation to the equation. Governments will have to readjust their agendas to incentivise new partnerships to grow the industry, and push R&D development to embrace a new era of AI-driven businesses.
The World Economic Forum reported three actions to “redesign the future of food” for 2021. One of which is to “overcome the frailties” of the food supply and production chains exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, “build a ‘fit-for-purpose’ food systems”, and another is to switch to a “people-first” and solution-centric mindset and build a resilient food systems post COVID-19.
A reframed collaborative approach “could unleash a new generation of business and organisational models” as well as institutional systems leadership. The World Economic Forum also implored that there is a necessity to “retool the entire food system to enable digitalisation and data-driven transformation”.
The use of artificial intelligence in data collecting is at the forefront of a new generation of innovative food technology at which speed and accurate data collection are key.
A Flavour for Innovation
Analytical Flavor Systems (AFS) developed Gastrograph AI to use artificial intelligence (AI) technology that models human sensory perception of flavour, aroma and texture to predict consumer preferences for food and beverage products...
Agricultural progress with AI
One such example of Chinese tech company putting AI to work is Deltron. The company provides intelligent fruit and vegetable grading and sorting solutions to the fruit industry; from major fruit producing areas to supermarket brands such as Walmart and Pagoda...
In order to achieve concrete commercialised applications and products to innovate the food industry, it is important to rise to the challenge of jumping onto the next generation of technologies, such as using the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor progress and growth and making AI a mainstream component in your business operations. China is one of the world’s biggest agricultural producers and the latest foodtech will aid in standardising the country’s product quality, which has been subject to much scrutiny and distrust in the past, of which a legacy continues till this day.
With standardising food quality comes improvement of farmer livelihoods and their operations. The COVID-19 pandemic also exposes the willingness of consumers to pay a premium for higher quality and healthier food sources. Health and wellness are now at the forefront of consumption. Changes in consumer preferences will underscore a new set of lifestyle products in which personalising one’s diet and consumption could be one of the biggest trends forthcoming.
While a shift from plastic to biodegradables offers ample opportunity for profit and environmental margins, problems need to be tackled from multiple fronts. Firstly, the cost of raw material resources; secondly, create better processes to ensure a higher conversion rate that minimises material waste in the production process; and thirdly, to build awareness on the topic where people - though paying a little more for non-traditional products - will be reassured that their money isn’t spent for their own self-satisfaction only, but goes toward alleviating food production stresses and sustainable environmental practices.
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