Food is an essential part of our daily lives and technology is changing how food is produced, prepared, delivered, and even, consumed.
Since climate change, for example, is making it harder to grow food at pace with the growing population, one ingenious solution is urban farming with vertical farms in vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and on roof tops. It’s a cleaner way of producing food. Remote management with electronics and robots is making the production of produce considerably more affordable.
Climate change is also driving meat alternatives such as lab-grown hamburgers, insect based proteins, and even seaweed that tastes like bacon. There is even a yeast that churns out a substance molecularly identical to milk. It looks, tastes, and is just as nutritious as milk with an important exception, no cow is involved. Unlike milks made from soy, almonds, coconut, and cashew, this milk is simply made by a plant and not in a plant.
Food preparation methods are affected, too. Perishable foods like produce, meats and dairy that are close to expiration date and destined for the dump are redirected instead into ready-to-eat fresh meals at a fraction of what it would cost otherwise. Waste is now a raw material for some food makers.
Technology is serving as a virtual drive-thru window for manufacturers and delivery opens additional product opportunities. The shortened supply chain offers significantly greater control of cost and quality in the hands of the manufacturer and the distributor. Retailers can deliver goods directly to consumers with a win-win for everyone: shoppers value convenience and instant gratification; retailers reduce store and warehouse operations and associated costs; and private label suppliers can customize products to meet retail customer needs with near mass production efficiency.
One thing is clear: people will continue to shop for food and other packaged goods.
In the future, success will come to those who can meet the demands of the emerging digital generation.