Technology seems to have penetrated every single aspect of our daily lives. From the way we get our morning news to entertaining our pets when they’re home alone, tech innovations have become part of us. There’s no wonder that the latest technological developments are increasingly integrated into how people design, produce, choose, and deliver food. Today, IT services for FoodTech are experiencing a major boost in demand. This trend will likely grow in the next couple of years: according to Statista, the global food technology market will exceed $342 billion by 2027.
While you might associate blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, and other 21st-century buzzwords with some rocket science, these innovations are already revolutionizing our relationships with food. So what technical innovations are trending in the food industry? Our friends from AnyforSoft — a software development company specializing in FoodTech — shared some interesting insights about the technological innovations shaping the FoodTech landscape. Let’s jump right in!
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the computer system simulation of human intelligence processes that enables machines to learn from experience and carry out human-like tasks. As the scope of AI varies, its applications in FoodTech also vary at large scale.
One of the most important cases where the food industry benefits from AI is food waste tracking. While massive amounts of food are wasted daily across the globe, AI solutions come to save the day, helping restaurants and hotels minimize food wastage.
You might have also heard about the futuristic robots that cook food — this has already become a reality. AI-powered robots not only help kitchen staff with tasks and cleaning — but they are also used to improve the guest experience when booking a table and paying for meals.
AI also powers restaurant voice bots that help streamline the food ordering process. These bots have robust natural language processing capabilities, which allows them to effectively communicate with humans.
Finally, artificial intelligence helps to tackle even more complex challenges, such as maximizing food production in a limited space. AI makes vertical farming — growing vegetables in vertically stacked layers — ultimately efficient by monitoring and adjusting temperature, light, and humidity for the best possible results.
Big data describes large data sets that can’t be handled by traditional software and may be analyzed with the help of data mining technology to reveal patterns and trends.
Big data benefits the food sector at the production stage. For instance, big data analytics can be applied to predict the product’s shelf life, saving food manufacturers a lot of time and money and preventing product waste.
There are even niche-specific platforms with specialized features and functions tailored to businesses in a given food industry sub-category. For instance, organizations involved in brewing can try Ollie’s platform for brewery management in order to turn raw data gathered from across their operations to their advantage.
Another exciting application of big data in the food industry is sentiment analysis. In a nutshell, sentiment is the index measuring what is said about a product or a brand. Big data helps assess customers’ attitudes toward the product by analyzing what is said about it on social media, allowing food companies to better understand trends and customer needs, design more effective product strategies, improve their targeting, and strengthen their marketing campaigns.
Blockchain is a decentralized, immutable ledger that streamlines recording transactions and tracking assets across business networks. Best known for its role in cryptocurrency systems, blockchain is also disrupting the food industry today.
Blockchain technology is mainly used in food supply chain management. It allows consumers to track the entire chain of product creation, from raw materials through transportation and storage conditions to production.
What is more, smart contracts — programs stored on a blockchain that is used to automate the execution of agreements — decrease the number of intermediaries in the food supply chain network, minimizing transaction costs and increasing efficiency.
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a network of connected physical objects with sensors that exchange data over the Internet or other communication systems. IoT is gaining impressive traction in the food industry today. Let’s take a quick look at several most common use cases of IoT in the food sector.
The IoT devices are equipped with smart sensors that capture data companies can leverage to optimize their operations. For example, they can monitor and predict machinery maintenance, helping manufacturers avoid costly downtimes. Also, by tracking ingredients’ temperatures, manufacturers can maximize product quality. And not only that — IoT devices enable real-time tracking of products when they are in storage, and by monitoring temperature, moisture, and sunlight, they can spot potential hazards early, which also translates into higher quality products.
In addition, the Internet of Things helps make warehousing more efficient, from optimizing storage space to alerting warehouse staff about expiration dates. Lastly, IoT sensors can detect packaging damage and provide insights on how to avoid similar issues in the future.
The food industry is increasingly adopting the latest developments in technology. Artificial intelligence, IoT, big data, and blockchain go a long way toward reducing food waste, improving customer experiences, enhancing food quality, and building trustful relationships between producers and consumers.