Intellectual property in food technology

The food industry is a fast-paced and highly competitive market. Companies have turned to emerging technologies to have a competitive edge in the industry. In 2022, businesses have developed more unconventional techniques to produce food that meets higher consumer standards. Food technology is the application of science to food so that it becomes safer and healthier for consumption. There are several global concerns that the industry can address. These are: establishing food security, developing foods that follow more sustainable practices, and alleviating environmental impacts, such as climate change, caused by current food production techniques.

Food technology

Food technology helps transform the food industry into a more modern, efficient and sustainable system. It covers all sectors of the food industry, including food preparation, distribution and consumption. Nowadays, there is a growing demand for healthier and safer food. As newer advancements drive the global market, forecasts estimate that the food industry will be worth $343 billion over the next five years. Many factors influence the industry. Above all, consumers are the key drivers of market change. Customers are experiencing an increasing need for transparency in the food supply chain. In addition, the food must be cost-effective. Finally, people want more sustainable and ethical practices to be used in food production. Food science and technology practices can provide improvement in these areas. In the last five years, numerous patents have been filed worldwide for healthy meals. Most of them involve the preparation and processing of fruits and vegetables. Other innovations include formulation of supplements and creation of artificial replicas. Currently, the countries dominating the industry are China, Korea and the United States, with China filing the largest number of patents in the world. It should be noted that the market is fragmented, with small to medium (SME) manufacturers accounting for the majority of market revenue. The list of innovations in the industry is quite long, starting with the production of food, the method of delivery or distribution and consumption. The industry’s most effective methods include lab-grown or alternative protein, manufacturing sustainable packaging, developing food processing techniques, and creating a customer’s personalized diet/nutrition plan. Advances in distribution include automation of the service sector through robotics and interactive artificial intelligence, and perhaps most widely known delivery services based on mobile applications. However, the food industry continues to transform alongside the market. As customer needs change, businesses must follow suit. Established companies sometimes return to traditional, tried-and-true food preparation methods, but some rely on new and cutting-edge technologies to improve their existing techniques, resulting in significant profit margins.

Reinventing food technology

The food industry has undergone significant changes in the last few years. There was a public demand for foods with higher nutritional value. In addition, consumers have questioned the transparency of their food supply chain, which has affected how manufacturers will address food safety issues. Businesses, both fledgling startups and more established companies, need to keep up with the needs of their users. This will ensure the sustainability of their business and give them a competitive edge over others in the industry. In addition, customers desire greener food sourcing and production techniques. Food production has a significant impact on society and the environment, negatively affecting ecosystems and causing pollution not only during processing but also due to the use of plastic in packaging. Industrial agriculture alone will be responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in 30 years. On the other hand, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that consistent progress in the industry could play a crucial role in solving global food insecurity by 2030. The continuous development of food science and technology is lucrative for companies, who want to take advantage of more unconventional practices. Intellectual property protection in this area can range from patents on food processing, packaging and even equipment.

The future of food technology

Emerging technologies in the food industry continue to develop rapidly. Much progress has already been made in the food production sector, particularly in the use of remote sensing and machine learning techniques to predict crop yields and improve food security. Researchers are also working on interventional technologies to inhibit pathogens and ensure that food is safe for consumption. Much has also been done to improve the food delivery system, particularly through the use of blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT). Both technologies introduce new methods of tracking supplies as they make their way from farm to table. In addition, the production of environmentally friendly food is also gaining strength in the industry. Alternative protein sources are being explored, from plant-based to lab-grown meat and even fermentation-based proteins. Bloomberg estimates that the plant-based alternative industry will reach $162 billion by 2030. Processing food as by-products or leftovers to mitigate the effects of food waste is also being explored. Finally, food and beverage manufacturers are exploring 3D food printing as a more efficient way to produce food, and others are looking to make 3D printing the new norm in creating personalized food or diet plans.

Key findings

Investors continue to see the benefits food tech startups bring to the food industry. Emerging technologies drive revenue because these companies use innovative techniques that understand the market, ensuring customer success. Thus, companies need to protect their intellectual property because these can be potential avenues for monetization. These pathways can include categories such as food processing and innovations that can make cooking a more efficient process. As consumer demand continues to grow, more established competitors will continue to evolve and adopt emerging technology practices in the food industry. In the coming years, it is expected that the food industry will continue to develop more innovations to improve the preparation, distribution and consumption of food.

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