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Webrain Reports Archive

#200 – Beyond Taste as We Know It

Over the years, IT has played an increasingly important role in the food industry as new technologies streamline the production, distribution, and sales processes. A rapidly advancing area, however, is focusing on food in a different way; specifically, technology is examining and manipulating the actual taste of food. But why is taste so important? It’s believed that our ancestors owed their survival in part to their ability to discern through taste which foods were safe and which might be harmful or even deadly. For example, a bitter-tasting plant could be poisonous. Today, we’re not foraging in the wild for food, but an individual’s perception of taste could have a direct impact on their quality of life. Someone who prefers the taste of junk food over a healthy diet could be setting themselves up for serious medical problems such as obesity or diabetes.

 

But what if healthy foods could be hacked so they taste more pleasant to picky eaters? Could that improve overall human well-being?  Nutrition author John Robbins delineated iterations of the food industry, from Food 1.0 (survival) to Food 2.0 (industrialization, when fast food became central to the American experience because it tasted good and it epitomized American manufacturing prowess) to the current stage, Food 3.0 (healthier eating for heathier and more vigorous lives). This 3.0 era is a growth stage, in which we see things like fast food outlets serving salads and more restaurants supplying health information about the items on their menus. FoodTech is expected to grow to $250 billion in sales annually by 2022. Additionally, Webrain believes that players in the FoodTech industry are following physicist Richard Feynman’s call for science to manipulate at the atomic scale, which he presented in his famous lecture titled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.”

 

From growing food in vitro from animal cells or using chemicals to produce precise wine analogs, players are creating new engineered foods that will appeal to middle America not just on taste, but also price and availability. As the digital blueprint of flavor is carefully manipulated, Webrain sees the emerging trend of Beyond Taste as We Know It. Your company may not currently be involved in the food sector. In fact, it might seem like the most distant thing from your product line. But with the rapid pace at which IT is expanding into FoodTech, this is the perfect time to evaluate if you might have an unexpected – and lucrative – opportunity waiting in the kitchen.