The future of humanity depends on the tireless efforts of the food industry workers responsible for feeding the 7.9 billion people living around the world. Though the industry will continue to expand as the demand is expected to grow in the future, it has come under scrutiny as 811 million people are left hungry worldwide. Moreover, food production has an adverse impact on the environment, with the food systems using 70% of freshwater and agriculture being responsible for 20-30% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Technology has been the driving force behind innovation for some time now, also influencing the food industry that looks for ways to optimize its operations and meet the increasing demands of consumers. Solutions such as q-commerce, food waste tracking, and precision agriculture tools allow achieving better results.
At the same time, technology changes customer behavior as people are interested in the quality and source of their food or expect a quick food delivery. To learn more about the topic, here are some ways in which technology is revolutionizing the food industry and our understanding of the food production process:
From a single shop to an entire online platform to start a business, the internet has revolutionized the way goods are traded. Right now, the future of food delivery is bringing restaurants closer to customers as the online food delivery market is growing rapidly and is predicted to reach $289.60 billion by 2026.
Urbanites can now order food online, have it delivered directly to their doorsteps, and pay with a credit card or mobile wallet. Food delivery apps, such as UberEats or Doordash, allow users to track their order in real-time and communicate with restaurant staff so they can receive their meal precisely as they ordered it. What’s more, today, you can take advantage of the best food delivery app to deliver with and generate extra income in your spare time.
Food safety is one of the biggest concerns in the food industry nowadays, as it has become increasingly challenging to ensure the quality of food produced in mass quantities. When it comes to meat or fish, foodborne illness can spread along the supply chain without anyone knowing about it due to a lack of proper inspection methods and the long shelf life of fresh produce. The use of technology can help reduce the number of contaminated products reaching the market and improve food safety.
The blockchain is an ideal solution for ensuring the quality of food as it allows creating decentralized records of all stages of production, from harvesting to final sale. Using smart contracts, companies can make agreements with their suppliers regarding the quality standards for their products and conduct audits of farms that provide raw materials for their items.
With blockchain technology, it is possible to securely share data points to create an accountable and traceable system, which, in turn, enables monitoring food items’ journey from a farm to a table in real-life. Moreover, information stored on the blockchain is transparent and immutable, which ensures that all data is authentic.
Food Waste Tracking
According to estimates, around 30-40% of food bought by Americans ends up in the trash, which corresponded to $161 billion worth of food in 2010. Not only could the food have been supplied to starving families, but food wastage is also a significant environmental problem that currently contributes towards unnecessary deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. It also has a negative impact on the economy as consumers end up paying more money for food while producers lose money they could have spent on production.
Food companies and retailers can benefit from data visualization tools that allow tracking the amount of food wasted over time and understanding the reasons behind it. Data can help them optimize supply chain operations and implement efficient measures, such as better training or purchasing decisions.
At the same time, customers and businesses alike may use apps and websites that allow them to put the leftover food to better use. For example, apps like Too Good To Go and Karma enable users to buy food from restaurants that would otherwise be thrown out at the end of the day, thus helping to reduce food waste.
Internet of Things
IoT stands for Internet Of Things and refers to smart devices that connect to one another via the internet and share data about their status in real-time. These devices include cameras that monitor temperature and humidity levels in warehouses and greenhouses, sensors that can detect various environmental conditions, including water level or soil moisture, and software that collects and analyzes this data to make decisions for improving production processes based on these insights.
For example, smart irrigation systems can be controlled based on the weather forecast or data gathered by sensors that monitor air temperature or soil moisture levels. All this information is provided by IoT-connected devices that collect data regularly, providing manufacturers with much-needed information on optimizing operations while keeping costs down.
Precision agriculture is the use of technology to monitor and manage the farm. Sensors and drones gather temporal, spatial, and individual data and use it to measure the output of crops and soil, allowing farmers to identify the best ways of improving their yield. This includes using artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize crop management, as well as track soil health and disease.
For example, precision agriculture tools allow farmers to better understand the status of their fields, enabling them to identify potential issues before they start affecting the quality of their produce. By applying analytics, farmers can adapt their practices in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem that is essential for optimal crop growth.
The food industry is a complex web of businesses, products, and processes that involves the input of millions of people. As the demand for food grows, companies look to technology and innovation to produce higher volumes of food while keeping the costs low and maintaining the quality of their products.
Technology solutions allow receiving real-time information about the state of the farm, providing insights into how certain practices affect the output of crops. At the same time, IoT devices can help optimize crop management and keep track of the status of fields, so farmers are always aware of any potential issues.