6 promising food innovations changing how we eat

Food tech keeps evolving to find better and more sustainable ways to produce, distribute and consume food. Get to know 6 promising food innovations for 2024

At Sparkfood, we are always hungry for the next food trend. And 2024 is shaping up to be a great year for food innovation. According to the new Future of Food – Trends for 2024 report by DigitalFoodLab, there are more than two dozen big trends currently changing how we eat. We chose 6 promising food innovations to look out for in 2024.

In no particular order of popularity or preference, here are 6 promising food innovations for 2024:

#1. Protein agriculture

At least 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are linked to the production of animal-sourced protein – meat, fish, dairy, eggs and more. This has led to an explosion in companies competing to provide the best alternatives to animal protein, mainly plant-based but most recently backed by breakthrough innovations such as cellular agriculture and molecular agriculture.

The premise behind cellular agriculture relies on the recreation of animal proteins, fats, and tissues from cultured animal cells. Subsequently, this can lead to the successful reproduction of animal-based products on a lab. This concept is still fairly young, but the very first products are already being tested in a handful of restaurants.

What is molecular farming? Molecular farming, on the other hand, focuses more on dairy production using plant molecules as “mini dairy farms”. This technology aims to reproduce animal proteins inside plants, using photosynthesis and farming.

Source: Medium
#2. Protein fermentation

Somewhat similar to protein agriculture, another promising food innovation is protein fermentation: obtaining animal proteins via fermentation. This process relies mainly on two kinds of fermentation: precision fermentation and biomass fermentation. Precision fermentation uses genetically modified organisms (bacteria and other microbes) to produce proteins, enzymes, fats, vitamins, and others, which are normally present in cheese, milk, and other dairy.

Source: FutureBridge

This differs slightly from biomass fermentation, which mainly consists of rapid production of protein-rich foods from the fermentation of organic material by bacteria, yeast, or fungi. A concrete example of precision fermentation is the production of chymosin, a very important enzyme in rennet, produced in the stomachs of ruminants and essential to the production of parmesan cheese. An example of biomass fermentation is the well-known meat substitute Quorn™ and its mycoprotein.

#3. Food as medicine

Taking advantage of the nutritional characteristics as well as the medicinal properties of food as a way to promote and restore health is not a new concept; it has been used for millennia. However, the concept of food as medicine is evolving and has gained an improved, deeper meaning, with the aid of technology. This is where functional foods and nutraceuticals come in.

Functional foods refer to foods that offer health benefits beyond their nutritional value and content. These foods may be naturally rich in or be enriched with substances – nutrients, dietary fibre, probiotics, etc. – that have a health-enhancing or disease-preventing potential. Examples are milk with added vitamin D, yoghurt with probiotics, or honey, naturally rich in phytochemicals. Nutraceuticals in contrast (from “nutrition” + “pharmaceutical”), are not whole foods but rather parts or components of some foods, which have a potential disease-treating effect. Some examples are cod liver oil, or probiotic tablets and capsules.

#4. 3D-printed food

3D-printed food sounds like a bit… much. But 3D-printing is actually on the list of promising food innovations for 2024 despite its early stages because its potential and applications are immense. 3D-printing food allows for the creation of personalised food and diets with specific shapes, colours, realistic textures, and mouthfeel sensations.

Source: Bernard Marr

While the most obvious benefactor of these advancements is the plant-based substitute market, there are other communities who can greatly benefit from 3D-printed food, such as the autistic community, the ARFID community, or the elderly, among others who may struggle with sensory sensitivities, dysphagia, or other conditions cantered around food.

#5. Designer crops

The rising world population, along with climate change and unsustainable farming practices, put pressure on traditional agriculture. The lengthy list of consequences includes food insecurity, malnutrition, spoilages, food shortages, among others. Some of the most affected crops are cocoa, coffee, and avocado, for example. Designer crops answer some of these problems, making it a promising food innovation for 2024 and beyond.

Source: University of Zurich

Designer crops are crops that were developed via advanced breeding and gene manipulation, with enhanced nutritional profiles, improved yields, and increased resilience to pests or environmental factors. Imagine rice enriched with vitamins, cassava with reduced cyanide toxicity, or pest-resistant bananas – designer crops can give us more nutritious food and more resilient food sources.

#6. Digital supply chain

Today’s food supply chain struggles with food waste, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, deforestation, intense farming and animal exploitation. It is not accessible nor equitable, as food insecurity, malnutrition, lack of access to healthy foods and price volatility are still very real situations; and, finally, it is not always safe, tamper-proof nor transparent.

Technologies such as IoT, AI, Blockchain, and automation and robotics will be extremely helpful in tracking food products from-farm-to-table, in monitoring ambient conditions during transport and storage, such as humidity and temperature, or even obtaining data analytics for optimisation, increased efficiency, resource management, and forecasting. The world is currently experiencing the power of these technologies in other areas such as business and healthcare, and the food industry is no different. In short, a digital food supply chain will be more efficient, more sustainable, more transparent, and smarter than the current model.

All it takes is a Spark

The food sector is constantly changing, and problems and challenges are meeting increasingly smart and creative solutions. Technological advancements are, indisputably, a driving force for the innovation in the food sector and industry, but so are the growing consumer awareness and evolving dietary preferences. Our vision is to empower sustainable, healthier lives by investing in innovative solutions. With knowledge, capital and processes, we understand what makes each project unique and craft bespoke investment strategies. Leave us a message and be part of this journey.

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