The global food system is constantly under pressure. Given that more than 40% of all food produced in the United States ends up in landfills, it’s both depressing and absurd that an average of 12.3% of U.S. households face food insecurity. Not only that, but we’re facing challenges like consistent population growth, climate change, limited natural resources and more.
Historically, technology has disrupted and transformed our food systems. We cultivated crops and domesticated animals to rely less on hunting and gathering. We developed large-scale machinery to produce large-scale crops, abandoning the need for animal power to plow our fields. We invested heavily in genetically modified organisms to make crops resistant to pests, diseases and more, thereby increasing our yields.
So what do you get at this ever-present intersection of food and technology?
You get FoodTech, a new community of entrepreneurs, professionals, investors, consumers and more who come together to network, collaborate and discuss new ideas. The topics surrounding food and technology are limitless, including concepts from farm-focused platforms, to distribution models, e-commerce and grocery service platforms, and much more. It’s a broad, noisy, and increasingly important sector to explore.
Think, like the internet, technology and its impact on food is just a fad? Let’s see:
Technology and Sustainability
Did you know that with modern technology restaurants like Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar can not only track the boat which caught a fish, but also find out the exact coordinates of where the fish was caught? That kind of transparency in food is becoming increasingly more in demand by socially-responsible consumers who want to feel good about what they’re eating.
Technology and Delivery
Online ordering and delivery is helping restaurants to combat slower foot traffic at brick-and-mortar locations. And now more companies are entering the space with mobile kitchens, rejecting the high (and increasing) rents that many businesses are facing.
Technology and Growing Food
The latest trend soon to hit the concrete jungle is Aquaponics—the art of fish farming (aquaculture) with hydroponics (growing plants without soil). The waste from the fish helps to feed the plants, while the plants aid in cleaning the water for the fish. This symbiotic relationship produces fresh, natural fish and vegetables free from antibiotics and pesticides.
Technology in the Kitchen
At Tundra Restaurant Supply, we’re seeing more manufacturers develop restaurant equipment with “smart technology,” like text notifications, automatic temperature tracking and more. If your walk-in goes out in the middle of the night, chances are you’d want to receive a text, phone call—anything! These technology advancements are helping restaurant owners save money, reduce food waste and much more.
Technology and Consumer Behavior
It was the purchase heard around the world: Amazon buys Whole Foods. As the online retail giant plunges into hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores, questions like “Will more consumers buy groceries online?” “How will Whole Foods compete with those in the meal-kit business?” and “Will restaurants be able to compete with slowing traffic patterns” swirl in our minds. Think about how the invention of iTunes transformed the music industry—foodservice is next.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an investor, or a restaurant supply company, the cross-section of food and technology is a fascinating and important sector to explore. Want to learn more about Boulder FoodTech? Check out https://www.boulderfoodtech.com/ to sign up for the newsletter and learn more about joining the group.