The pandemic has transformed people’s way of life, modifying their behavior and setting new trends in the food-tech industry to create healthier products and increase process sustainability.
Is it possible for the agrifood industry to run its processes sustainably?
In this regard, this sector has also adopted the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, avoid soil degradation, and make a more sustainable practice from agriculture, by taking advantage of each waste (sustainable agriculture waste) through biotechnology and the use of cutting-edge solutions.
In the same way, it should focus on new product design, innovation, and development, which will allow producers to remain profitable in today’s market, adapting to new consumer requirements.
Sustainability poses a significant challenge for the food industry. Captains of industry are increasingly inclined to create value for people, clean production within an environment where public transparency prevails, as well as ethical, social, and environmental responsibility, which are factors sought by modern companies.
Five macro trends in the Food Industry
The Future of Food study -conducted by Future Brand- examines five macro trends in the food industry, essential for the sector over the next 10 years:
1. Reinvented revolution
As a result of the social distancing measures, there has been a return to various activities that had been phased out, such as cooking or making homemade bread. Therefore, consumers have preferred local retailers.
Along the same lines, they have become more aware of their needs and rights, demanding transparency regarding the information on the products they consume.
2. The power of food
Consumers can increasingly understand how nutrient-dense foods lead to a long and healthy life. Therefore, the food industry must offer a diet that promotes longevity and improves people’s physical and mental state.
Considering the needs of an increasingly demanding public and committed to sustainability, plant-based foods are increasingly gaining significance due to their ability to offer healthier and more environmentally friendly variables.
3. Flavor migration
Globalization has created a new “local” concept: one in which the traditions of a society with foreign elements converge, giving rise to a new reality, more varied and diverse.
In this sense, small businesses linked to flavors of certain countries or cultures have the advantage over large merchants, creating the social bond that is so significant for the consumer. Ultimately, they can offer a better customer experience.
4. The new natural
In the coming years, consumer choice will be determined by information. The agrifood industry will focus on products that meet individual health needs without neglecting taste.
Plant-based fresh products will acquire greater significance, and food innovation leads to the creation of eco-friendly alternatives. The food sector will focus on the finished product and the entire production chain, enhancing traceability, security, and supervision of production processes.
5. The ethical dilemma: convenience or sustainability?
Even though consumers acknowledge that sustainability is one of the main factors considered when shopping, convenience (simplicity and speed of purchase, for example) also plays a role, some companies have managed to balance both aspects.
This translates into, for example, quick-consumption healthy products, which are ideal for people who do not have much time to cook.
In terms of sustainability, the development of crops in extreme conditions has been achieved thanks to biotechnology and genetic improvement, with the ability to obtain food in areas where there are water shortages, high salinity, and extreme temperatures.
Due to less availability of agricultural areas, new technologies in agriculture are key to optimizing processes. This translates into, for example, solutions such as vertical hydroponics, essential to improve productivity, optimizing costs, and use of resources.
On the other hand, the design of new vegetarian products or products derived from vegetable proteins has allowed brands such as Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat to satisfy an increasingly demanding consumer group.
For brands, sustainability is increasingly consolidated as part of their business policies, granting greater significance to the supply chain, fair trade, lower environmental impact, composting or reducing sustainable agriculture waste.
In the next decade, the food-tech industry will adopt innovative approaches throughout the supply chain to achieve a balance between product quality and taste and the search for convenience, both for consumers and producers.
Natural coatings: enhancing exportation fruits
According to the Chilean Office of Agricultural Studies and Policies (ODEPA), during the period from January to April 2021, fruits exportation reached a total of 1.45 million tons and 3,504 million FOB USD with a 1% increase in exported volume and 4% in value over the same period of the previous year.
For the fruit industry to expand its horizons and respond to the demand of increasingly aware consumers, natural coatings are essential to maintain the quality of fruits and vegetables for a longer time, increasing the profitability of exports and the availability of products.
While synthetic wax-based coatings are made up of petroleum-derived components, natural coatings are made up of biopolymers and organic compounds capable of extending the shelf life of fruits and vegetables without the addition of harmful elements.
Shel-Life is an example of the above. It is a organic emulsion made with natural extracts, lipids, and plant-based polymers, which form a natural coating on the fruit.
The primary function of this natural coating – innocuous and edible – is to reduce the dehydration and growth of microorganisms and improve the appearance of fruits and vegetables, increasing their useful life and, with it, the profitability of the product.
Thanks to new technologies in agriculture such as Shel-Life, elaborated by Polynatural, it is possible to satisfy recent food trends, which – as we have seen – are oriented towards natural products, sustainability, and greater environmental responsibility.