Technology is not the first thing that comes to our minds when we think of food. However, technology is transforming the way we produce, distribute, and purchase food. As our focus is shifting to sustainability, freshness and health in the food industry, the role of technology has become more significant than ever.
As the world population will keep increasing, more efficient ways of producing food will be required. Not only to fight global hunger but also to bring sustainability in the global food industry. Companies have already started to take notice and are investing heavily in FoodTech, AgriTech, and automation to keep up with demand. According to a new report, Venture capital funding in FoodTech startups leapt in the first quarter of 2021 to over $10 billion (£7.1bn) across 241 deals, a quarter-on-quarter jump of over 120 percent.
Let’s look at the following ways in which technology is transforming the Food industry:
Robotics – Many robotic devices are meant to increase food production, thereby making the entire process faster and safer. Usage of machines can shorten the distribution channel, resulting in reduction of costs for keeping the food fresh. Robotic automation can be deployed in various functions of the food industry. For instance, soft grippers can quickly but gently handle sensitive food plucking such as fruits and vegetables. Many advanced grippers are also paired with robust robotic vision technology to guide the robotic arm, allowing it to compensate for variations in product shape. This creates greater accuracy and consistency in processing applications. This is just one of the many ways in which technology can improve this industry.
Drones – The use of drones with GPS tracking systems and satellite imagery can help contemporary farmers to monitor crop yields, soil levels, and weather patterns to increase efficiency and productivity. Through drones, farmers can maintain a constant visibility over their farms and also run analysis on the data collected. Equipped with these insights, they can optimize the use of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, water, and pesticides more efficiently.
Smart Sensors – In the food industry, smart sensors offer outstanding performance, reliability, and substantial value by streamlining the storage, supply, and distribution of food items. They enable managers to have insights into production, management of inventory, examination of ingredients, and maintenance of favorable temperature for storage to make the entire experience hassle-free. Outside the factory or facility, businesses can implement sensors in delivery vehicles to ensure seamless distribution of food production.
Blockchain – This technology provides traceability, security and decentralization when dealing with food industry data. Once a transaction has been entered on the blockchain network, it cannot be altered or removed without notifying others as every action is being tracked, recorded, and displayed for the benefit of everyone involved. Walmart has been using blockchain technology to digitalize its supply chain and reduce the time taken to track the source of food contamination. For instance, in 2020, Walmart tracked the E. coli outbreak that spanned over 19 states and hospitalized 20 people back to leafy greens in the US. The industry spent millions of dollars notifying the public as well as tracing and removing the contaminated vegetables from the market.
AI-Based Solutions – Food production and distribution is a complex business. AI, with its ability to quickly analyze humongous amount of data, can provide farmers with predictive insights that could factor in weather patterns, news developments, world-wide atmospheric conditions, market demand, soil conditions, and more. As the Food industry responds to the necessity of greater precision, we can expect researchers and machine learning programmers to come up with more innovative ways of optimizing farming processes through the integration of AI.
In conclusion, over the past few years, technology is becoming an integral part of our ecosystem. From robotic automation to drones, blockchain and AI, we now have access to numerous innovations. The Food industry has undergone massive transformations owing to these innovations. These developments not only give us a chance to simplify agricultural processes but also assist us in fighting global food shortage crises.