Expert Insights: We spoke to three of our Advisory Board Members for the upcoming Future Food-Tech Summit to discover their insights for the future of food.

What area of food-tech is most exciting to you right now and why?

Jim Murphy: The global pandemic is extraordinary and unique in many ways, one of which is the fact that it has or could impact everyone in the world. Likewise every human in the world has to eat and drink every day. Fundamentally, the shock of the pandemic has impacted how and where people eat and drink, how they order, where they get food, what they consume.  As such, I am really interested in the “How”. How to people order, how to the get their food and drink and how is it delivered, dispensed or made so the space of fully autonomous food and beverage offerings that are available in a touchless means is interesting.  I think COVID-19 will make people think differently about what and where they consume their daily food and beverage.  This is a scary time, but very exciting because food and beverage, health, technology and medicine have all collided in a profound way that provides opportunity to serve consumers and customers in more innovative and personalised ways.

Gaby Shemer: The entire food-tech industry is poised for significant change and in my opinion, the most exciting aspect of this change how food and beverage manufacturers will reconnect with their customers and adhere to their desire to consume healthier products (predominantly, plant-based). This challenge involves optimising data gathering, which has significantly changed as consumer behaviour shifted, and extracting new insights that can assist in accelerating development processes allowing a quicker time-to-market at reduced costs while maintaining a viable supply chain. I believe that these trends pose an amazing opportunity for start-ups to exhibit their value to the more established food companies if they are able to show immediate value.

Zak Weston: While I am generally excited about all forms of alternative proteins, what excites me most is finding new ways for each area — plant-based, fermentation, and cultivated — to work together, such as fermentation supplying value-added functional ingredients to the plant-based category, or finding biological processing solutions for the crop inputs that go into plant-based meat, egg, and dairy products. More protein technology diversity allows the industry to more efficiently use every fraction of biomass inputs, improving profitability and sustainability. We are on the cusp of a protein revolution that will lower prices, improve functionality and product quality attributes, and allow a greater diversity of meat, egg, and dairy alternatives.

How do you think the current global pandemic will change the future of food? (over the short, medium and long-term)

Gaby Shemer: COVID-19 has brought changes in the food-tech ecosystem that have been so steep and abrupt in a way that the world has probably not witnessed since the World War II. In the short term, we’ll see changes in the way food is both made and consumed (more home-cooking and local delivery) heavily relying on local markets as global supply chains are being disrupted. In the mid-term, food-tech manufacturers will aim to understand which trends and habits are here to stay and how they can serve their consumers. In the long term, food manufacturers will need to adopt technologies that will enable them to be more resilient in cases of future outbursts and disruptions (e.g. robotics and automation).

Zak Weston: In the near-term, I expect the increased volatility and uncertainty will continue to force food and agriculture to be flexible and adaptive in the face of an unpredictable environment. In the medium and long-term, I expect that increased awareness of the embedded risks of our current protein supply chains — zoonotic diseases like Covid-19, animal disease pandemics like African Swine Fever, antibiotic resistance, GHG emissions, and land/water shortages — will prompt global governments, food industry players, and consumers to diversify our protein supply and include a greater share of alternative protein sources such as plants, fermentation, and cellular agriculture cultivation.