The future of food
The global population is facing a huge increase in the future, putting an enormous strain on the food industry. Due to the nature of the industry, it is nearly impossible to speed up the process of food production; animals need time to mature, while crops require time to grow.
People are becoming conscious of how their actions ultimately contribute to our global carbon footprint. With both the rise in populations and concern for the environment growing at a rapid pace, there’s no doubt that the food industry is in for unprecedented change in the coming years.
In fact, disruptive technologies are already beginning to emerge in some areas of the industry. This blog covers three major trends that could shape the food industry in the near future.
Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in a warehouse rather than on farmland. This is done by using stacked shelves indoors with bright, luminous LED lights to replace the sun’s rays. Due to the nature of production, it doesn’t suffer the effects of the changeable Irish weather, which has caused major hardship for farmers in the last few years.
It could also potentially eliminate the risk of pests and diseases, as the plants are grown in an isolated, controlled indoor environment. Vertical farming is likely to prove popular in the future, not only because it increases the crop’s chance of survival, but also because it allows farmers to live in urban areas. This means they can produce food closer to their markets, which cuts transportation costs and reduces CO2 emissions. It also allows farmers to maximise the use of space. While before it was only possible to use the surface area of your land, vertical farming means the sky is, literally, the limit!
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (the method of growing plants without soil). The process begins with two water tanks; one for the plants to grow in and one beneath it for the fish. The water is circulated from one water tank to another. This allows the plants to absorb the nutrients from the fish waste in the tank and the plants to act as a filtration system for the water returning to the fish tank. The system cuts down the consumption of water in farming and can also work with artificial light. It’s an innovative solution that is starting to get a lot of attention.
Cultured meat is where the meat is produced through tissue culture as an alternative to slaughtering animals. The meat is grown in a lab and is also known as in vitro meat. Due to the huge contribution traditional meat production makes to climate change, and the fact that there will be a larger population to feed in the coming years, cultured meat is believed by many to be the inevitable next-step in meat production – not replacing meat entirely but allowing us to reduce the amount of livestock in the system. Whether people will be willing to eat lab-grown meat is, of course, another question.
Technology is changing the world as we know it. These innovations could cause vast disruptions to the food industry and, if they prove to be successful, help create a sustainable future for our planet.
For more information on available food and beverage technologies, as well as funding and supports, contact us directly at the Irish Food Tech, download our cluster booklet or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter for the latest cluster news and events.