How Technology is Revolutionizing the Food Sector of India
The advancing technologies have impacted and improved almost all of the industries in today’s world. From core engineering to IT and education to healthcare, each and every domain has witnessed huge changes in the last couple of decades. Same goes for the food sector; technology over the years has changed how we produce and find our food through applications, robotics, data & processing techniques, and many other technologies. Though technology reaches every aspect of our lives, in the current era, the rise of mobile devices, cloud computing and other innovating technologies, the impact is more than ever.
According to a recent report from ING, technology helps food manufacturers produce more efficiently for a growing world population. There are 7.8 billion people in the world right now and that means a higher demand for food each year. By using tech to improve processing and packaging, it can improve the shelf life and safety of food. Not just that but, globalization has increased the handiness and accessibility of resources, equipment, technology, and ideas worldwide. This aids to the emergence of newer trends from farm to fork. Consequently, the fields of food production, processing, preservation, packaging, storage, and transportation have been exposed to a lot of variety of changes in recent years. The changes can also be witnessed in the type of food and beverages we consume. This trend can be observed from the mushrooming of fried chicken restaurants and pizza huts to the increased demand for probiotic yogurt in the Indian market. In this article, we will have a look and comprehend about the segments in the food industry that have observed identical changes due to the advancement in technology and how these advancement is going to help the industry flourish and thrive in the coming days.
AI in Agriculture
The convergence of mobile networks, broadband internet, cloud platforms, Internet of things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Language (ML) and open data have started the transformation in the Agri sector and all signs indicate a higher impact in near future. The integration of technology is making a high impact across pre and post-harvest. From the simplification of soil testing procedure to strengthening the conservation of crops and enhancing as well as maintaining the quality of products, technology is making a significant impact in the agriculture domain. Technologies like AI & ML, farmers are able to make more efficient decisions for their production. Using AI, farmers can now analyze a variety of things in real-time such as weather conditions, temperature, water usage or soil conditions collected from their farm to better inform their decisions.
IoT in Food Safety
IoT is a system of interrelated computing devices with unique identification tags. It has the ability to interact with each other by transferring data over a network with the help of embedded sensors, processors, and communication hardware. In the food and beverage sector, IoT helps in gaining greater visibility in each stage of manufacturing, production, and transportation. Even though it affects the privacy of the companies, IoT improves food safety and traceability. It also helps in the reduction of wastage and costs. It combines sensors, artificial intelligence, and traceability services like blockchain.
Robotics in Agriculture
Machinery is meant to decrease the human intervention in any field and the same is the scenario in the food industry as it is reducing the concerns related to safety. Robotic and automated machines can help to eliminate safety issues for the more dangerous jobs in the food industry. For instance, in 2016, a tech company rolled out a program for butchery. By using robots to cut the more difficult of the meats, they can save many work injuries. This is just one of the many ways technology can improve the industry. Apart from that, nowadays, smart robots are being included in every section of the food supply chain, including agriculture to food processing and delivery. Intelligent farming techniques and precision agriculture operating with the help of automation are gaining importance among Indian farmers and agricultural researchers. Robotics is already established in food processing, particularly in mixing and sorting applications, and also in food packaging at different levels. Repetitive and arduous tasks are well handled by robots with precision. Some Indian restaurants even have robot chefs and automated facilities to serve foods that attract customers.
Online Food Delivery Services
Another prominent impact in the Indian food sector is in the field of online food delivery services, with annual revenue of $7 billion in 2019. The increased dependency on mobile phones augmented convenience, and the numerous options offered to make these food aggregators an indispensable part of our daily life. The virtual restaurants, which provide delivery, only dining experience, are also growing with the help of these digital applications.
Same is the concept used here, but the difference is these kind of kitchens heavily rely on the online delivery technology. A Cloud Kitchen is a restaurant that is designed solely for the purpose to fulfil the online delivery orders from Swiggy, Zomato, UberEats, Ola Foods & more (Indian online food delivery portals) and doesn’t have a dine-in option. Even if it has a dine in option, that won’t be bigger than a 2-4 seated restaurant as their main focus is to accept incoming orders only. Known by many other names like ghost kitchens, virtual kitchens, dark kitchens, and satellite kitchens, these cloud kitchens are expected to see a 17.25 percent rise in CAGR by 2030.
Blockchain in Food & Supply Chain
Blockchain is an encrypted and distributed computer filing system, moreover, like a ledger, which helps in food traceability. It is a prospective technology for transforming the supply chain of the food and beverage industry in India. Consumers will be able to trace the source and the quality of produces and ensure its safety and security. For instance, it helps to know the place where the fruit is cultivated or in the recalling of a specific batch of products in case of the report of contamination or crisis. However, according to a report by Forbes, the blockchain is a digitized record of data added by its members, which questions the credibility of the underlying data.
3D Food Printing Technology
With the advent of 3D printing, there has been a tremendous breakthrough in today's food industry, with companies across the globe trying their hand at 3D printing food. Today, 3D printing is no longer an idea, but a reality that can revolutionize food innovation and production through better creativity, customizability, and sustainability. There have been several applications of 3D printing food which includes printing a pizza to creating soft foods for those who cannot chew hard food to consume. It opens the door for innovation being able to create many things that we were unable to before while also being able to help with food sustainability. There are many ways 3D printing is shaking up the industry. 3D Printing is here to stay. Manufacturers and enterprises across a broad spectrum of industries such as Aerospace, Automotive, Packaging, and Food are actively piloting and leveraging the inherent benefits of 3D printing technology.
Food Packaging Technologies
Having healthy and sustainable goods is one of the major concerns for consumers in the current era. Consumers pay attention to labels and harmful ingredients, especially with social media, there is not much that companies can get away with anymore. Many companies use technology to help them ‘go green’. By using robotics and digitizing, companies in the food industry are able to find alternatives to plastics and other harmful packaging to the environment. Though food packaging is being used since ages, yet, newfangled trends are emerging in the food packaging sector with special focus on edible, biodegradable, and eco-friendly packages mostly made from food wastes or by-products. The intelligent packages are often incorporated with sensors, indicators, or radio frequency identification systems that can interact with the packed food to distinguish, recognize, and document the changes happening. The electro-spinning techniques for fibre production are also gaining importance in the development of biopolymers.
Leveraging all of the aforementioned advancements, the world can definitely create a number of ways to increase the efficiency in the food industry. This as a result can without no doubt, solving the food waste problem, eliminate world hunger, increase revenue for farmers, decrease risks related to health and much more. It all depends on technology and how we use it.