Because food production is seldom thought of as an area of innovation, this article is a real eye opener. Over the past decades, food technology has made food plentiful and affordable. Yet this paradigm is heading for a crisis, because – as people are increasingly noticing – this bounty has come with significant hidden costs to the public’s health, social equity, animal welfare, and the planet’s natural environment.
This article presents the birth of a group of companies reinventing the way we think about food through revolutionary innovative technology. By applying knowledge from biotechnology and medical science, data analysis, and food science, they are working to displace entire categories of food as we know them today. For example, there is a race on to produce meat that never saw an animal yet replicates the sensory experience of the food we know, at an affordable price, without harming the Earth’s ecosystem. Other traditional foods are also being replaced.
The timing is right: even while the technology brings such ambitious developments within reach, the food industry is ready for disruption and consumer expectations encourage it to consider change. The author describes four levels of innovation that these changes can follow:
- Reducing costs by improving well-known manufacturing processes; e.g., plant protein extraction methods that produces meat-like texture
- Innovations in business model; e.g., the emergence of indoor vertical farming
- Data science and computational advances; e.g., application of deep machine learning to huge datasets of plant species’ attributes to identify replacements for animal product components
- Application of biotechnology to food production; e.g., producing meat and milk in vitro
There are many challenges ahead, from manufacturing hurdles to the entrenched food supply chain; but the companies working on these innovations – with intriguing names such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods – certainly mean business. To get an idea of what you may literally find on your plate in a decade or two, read this article.
Original Article PDF:
This resource is available exclusively for our members. CIV Membership - Register Free
Appeared in the issue: Coller Venture Review — 2016 -3 — Deep Innovation Issue