Asia’s FoodTech Culture: Using Technology for Better Food Production
Imagine a time where technology could not
only make food appetizing but also affordable and more nutritious.
In Asia, the use of technology to enhance
agricultural and food supply chains and deliver quality food products is only
beginning to gain traction. But recent innovations have shown that technology could
become an easy tool to use for the advancements in the food and beverage
industry. Breakthrough innovations like lab-grown meat, 3-D printed food, and
farmed insect protein are opening new doors to better solutions to prevalent
problems like malnutrition and food contamination by transforming the way food
is prepared and consumed entirely.
3D food printing is hailed as a
revolutionary concept that could address the world’s nutritional and hunger
challenges by enabling better control over the food components. Although
researchers have warned against engineering large portion of diets by using 3D
printers. It might increase the burden and risk of malnutrition, the technology
has been lauded as a game-changer for people who have special dietary needs
such as vegans and diabetics.
Technology in food combined with the study
of nutrition and medicine can help bring improvements in the industry.
Singapore start-up Alchemy Foodtech has developed a technology names 5ibrePLus
that maintains the gluceamic index (GI) on a low level in carbohydrates such as
bread, noodles, and white rice. Food with a lower GI index help in maintaining
blood sugar levels, which is especially essential for people with diabetes.
Intelligent food innovations happen where
it is possible to incorporate health benefits into daily products. Reducose is
another food modifier which is suitable for diabetic patients. British Life
Science Company Phynova produces it, and it can be added to food and drinks.
Without altering the taste and appearance of staple foods, it can prevent the
body from turning carbohydrates into glucose.
According to researchers, despite greater
barriers to accessing nutritious food in developing countries, hidden
malnutrition is also common in developed countries, which leads to a heightened
risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Singapore has the second-highest number of
diabetics in developed countries after the United States. In Asia, rapid
urbanization has also changed the consumption habits of its growing
middle-class population, switching traditional foods with cheap, nutrient-poor
foods that lead to obesity.
production in a nutrient-scarce future
The most adverse impacts of climatic change
are on the horizon. With continuous shifts in weather patterns, global crop
yields are getting affected. The nutrition levels in food staples such as rice,
vegetables, and legumes are depleting rapidly. Due to this problem,
malnutrition could become a more widespread issue. Soil erosion and increasing
levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are also to blame.
New agri-food technology companies are
working to ensure better functioning of supply chains, and for them to become
more climate-resilient, continuing to provide the world with healthy and
nutritious food. Innovopro, an Israel-based start-up company that specializes
in extracting protein from chickpeas in a concentrated form, claims alternative
proteins are needed to be more widely available to tackle the highly
unsustainable production of dairy foods and animal protein.
Adding Innovopro’s protein concentrate into
food items like yogurt, vegetable patties and puddings could be a real solution
to nutrient-poor food items, especially because such foods help curb hunger
faster and chickpea farming uses less resources than other plant-based
Japanese research and development firm
Mebiol has developed a technology that allows growing plants on film using
liquid fertilizers and small amounts of water. Professor Yuichi Mori of the
firm was inspired to create a film farm as the potential of hydrogels could be
applied to growing plants in Japan in areas where soil had been contaminated by
the radiation from Fukushima nuclear disaster and tsunami back in 2011.
Mebiol is now cultivating tomatoes through
this innovative film farming technology in a desert in Dubai, one of the
world’s most inhospitable places for farming and agriculture. Analysis
indicates that tomatoes grown via film farming have the same nutritional value.
Despite being grown without soil, these tomatoes are much sweeter.
way food is perceived matters
The aim of using technology is to formulate
more nutritious products without compromising the taste or having people to
change their dietary patterns. The way we understand food is especially crucial
in Asia, where people have pre-conceived assumptions about food. Minute issues
such as the slow and low public acceptance of brown rice in countries like South
Korea and China, where the variety of rice is associated with the diet of
low-income class and rural people.
Mebiol says that they wanted to preserve
the texture, taste, and other components of food while improving its
nutritional profile. These factors prove to be critical in helping people in
Asia adopt a healthier dietary pattern and lifestyle.
The regional lead of DSM Nutrition
Improvement, Alexia Cron, explained that fortifying simple foods like rice with
vitamins and minerals could be done while maintaining their actual appearance
and taste. Hence, people do not have to change their eating or cooking habits
while improving their diets.
Necessary modifications in staple food are
practiced in several countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines. Flour
fortification is pretty common, while fortifying rice to tackle nutritional
deficiencies is gaining momentum rapidly. The WHO has recommended rice
fortification as a “public health strategy” since 2018 to improve the nutrition
status of countries where rice is a staple food.
Forward Towards Food Security
Leveraging technology in food fortification
and even production is a breakthrough approach for eliminating world hunger.
The food and beverage industry is experiencing rapid technological changes for
the betterment of the food supply chains and providing nutrition-rich food to
underprivileged countries. Intelligent dietary patterns, coupled with
technology, will give rise to the successful adoption of a healthier lifestyle
across the world.