Emerging Technologies for Processing Food in 2022

Technology has taken the food and beverage manufacturing industry by storm, introducing emerging technologies for processing food, from new packaging techniques and materials for food production to optimising protocols and equipment across the supply chain.

But how do you sift through the technology trends and information overload and concentrate on the golden nuggets (plant-based, of course) that will move your career forward? 

Well, that's where we come in. We break down the impactful emerging technologies impacting the food and beverage processing industry, so you can focus your effort where it counts rather than getting caught in the metaverse. 

New processing technologies for food scientists

With everything from plant-based pea protein, chicken-free nuggets from McCain to insect-based protein, and biotechnology-founded bee-free honey trials by Dutch company Fooditive, alternative, more sustainable food production is all the buzz in the food processing industry. 

As consumers become more health and planet-conscious, food and beverage manufacturers will continue to invest in alternative food categories with well-being claims. When investing in new ingredients, regulation and food safety will be a crucial focus for food scientists, and keeping up with the latest movements in this space will be part and parcel of your job. 

While 3D Printing and genetic engineering are creating media hype, we don’t see these taking off too soon for product development. The emerging technologies worth noting for food technologists and scientists are: 

  • New extraction methods(such as Phage) to prevent food waste
  • Environmentally friendly food packaging and enhanced food safety technologies 
  • Technologies which increase shelf life and drive down costs of production

Food scientists/engineers will need to develop data management and research skills to meet the demands of emerging technologies.

AI and automation platforms for supply chain managers 

AI and machine learning are revolutionising food and beverage supply chain operations, with manufacturers like Pepsi, Nestle, and Coca-Cola using AI-powered processes to better forecast, reduce food waste, and optimise their supply chain. 

As blockchain and AI will automate many tasks across the supply chain, the need for critical thinking, problem-solving and project management skills will grow. Traceability is a big trend in food production, and supply chain employees will need enhanced skills in providing visibility across the supply chain. 

Supply chain professionals in the food and beverage industry should stay abreast of technologies focused on the following: 

  • Technologies to increase traceability and trackability 
  • Real-time data management and automation through ERP solutions

In March 2021, the government invested $4.5 Million to help build a strong, competitive, and resilient agri-food supply chain, indicating the importance of a robust supply chain. Career seekers in supply chain management will continue to have growth opportunities as the demand for highly-skilled professionals grows. 

Food Safety and blockchain

Customers are concerned about food safety and the quality of their products. In August this year, Wendy’s cut out lettuce due to Ecoli in three states in the USA. Food contamination is under the microscope, and traceability is more vital than ever regarding food safety. 

Blockchain advancements make it easier for food and beverage manufacturers to provide end-to-end traceability. Blockchain can record the entire supply chain, help control food safety, and trace back the origins of each raw ingredient from farm to consumer. 

Equally important are better machinery and equipment (such as X-ray automation) and improved drainage systems to improve sanitation and prevent contamination. 

Food and safety and quality assurance professionals  should focus on these emerging technologies in food processing: 

  • Technologies to increase traceability and trackability 
  • New types of drainage systems for improved sanitation
  • Contamination detection technologies (such as freezing methods and light technologies)

The food and beverage processing industry is becoming more competitive than ever. As new technologies emerge, we will see new opportunities for food and beverage manufacturing professionals to enhance their skills and grow their careers.

Romy Zwiers

Author

Romy Zwiers is a journalist and marketing professional with 16 years of experience working across industries with a keen focus on the beverage and food industry, having worked with companies like KFC, Nandos, Cadbury and Coca-Cola.

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