Technology creates a sustainable food system for the EU

Technology and food manufacturing go hand in hand, from gadgets and utensils for the home chef to industrial food production at the factory level.

But where FoodTech was once about making the process faster and easier and developing new techniques, innovations at the frontier of food tech are increasingly tackling environmental challenges and creating a more sustainable food system.

In a recent interview with Martin Davalos, partner at Czech investment firm McWin, which specializes in food technologies, he highlighted three key technology trends that could transform the food sector: waste reduction technology (WasteTech), protein alternatives and plastic-free packaging.

Watch Davalos’ interview: How technology is meeting the challenge of food safety in Europe


These innovations, he added, can help build more sustainable food production and distribution models to combat inflation and rising food and energy prices across Europe.

Waste Tech

The Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP), a UK-based charity, estimated that in 2018 the country generated around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste, 70% of which could have been avoided.

The good news is that the volume of food waste that year was nearly 480,000 tonnes lower than in 2015, helped by coordinated efforts across the industry to reduce supply chain inefficiencies. and combating high-waste practices by leveraging technologies such as software systems that monitor and analyze food waste data at restaurant branches.

With these tools and the right information available, smarter sourcing decisions can ensure restaurants aren’t buying too many ingredients or cooking too much food.

Another example is the method employed by British company WasteTech Winnow, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor and track food waste through a connected camera and weighing system. The system can be connected to one or more kitchens to analyze what food is thrown away and inform future decisions by chefs to help them reduce waste.

alternative protein

With the negative environmental impact of the meat industry now well documented, consumer demand for meatless alternatives is on the rise. For example, a 2021 Bloomberg Intelligence report predicted the alternative meat market would grow from $4.2 billion to $74 billion over the next decade.

Related: Alternative proteins take on new forms amid growing venture capital and consumer interest

As plant-based protein has exploded onto the global food scene in recent years, the range of options has proliferated far beyond the soy- and mycoprotein-based meat substitutes that have traditionally dominated the food market.

One of the emerging innovations gaining traction is cultured meat, which uses lab-grown animal cells to recreate a meat-like tissue structure with the goal of creating a meatier texture without slaughtering any animals.

And globally, startups are bringing new cultured meat products to market at an accelerating rate.

Learn more: Lumachain Raises $19.5M For Global Rollout Of Meat Industry Platform

Last month, German company Bluu Seafood launched lab-grown fish sticks and balls that are expected to hit supermarket freezers soon, while Dutch startup Meatable plans to start selling its cultured meat sausages to consumers. by 2025. Another Dutch company, Mosa Meat, was one of the first in the world to develop a lab-grown burger.

Plastic-free packaging

As Davalos told PYMNTS, “single-use plastics will soon disappear in Europe,” and plastic-free food packaging will be instrumental in driving that change.

In this context, researchers at the forefront of materials science are helping the food industry create more sustainable food packaging by experimenting with a range of biodegradable alternatives made from renewable resources.

Some of the companies at the forefront of this change include Berlin-based startup Arekapak, which has developed a range of natural packaging solutions made from sun-dried palm leaves, and London-based NotPla, which uses extracts of algae, plants and minerals to create plastic-like films. which can be used for food packaging but can then dissolve in water.

NotPla has even developed flavored films that can be used as food wraps and simply dissolve into the food itself, leaving no waste.

A final alternative to plastic worth mentioning is mycelium wrapping. As well as being a plastic-free and fully biodegradable solution, companies like Netherlands-based Grown Bio can grow wrappers using fungal strands into any shape needed.

Even better, Biohm, a London-based biomaterials start-up, is pioneering a way to grow mycelium from organic waste from other industries. Biohm’s mycelium technology means that one day mushrooms could not only eventually replace single-use plastics, but they could also help reduce the amount of other waste going to landfill.

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