Emerging food technology trends mark a shift towards sustainable and personalized food choices. These include alternative protein sources, local foods, nutraceuticals, and personalized nutrition. The concern over environmental impacts is causing food startups and brands to integrate waste reduction practices as well as zero-waste workflows. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic had a compelling impact of accelerating the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies throughout the food value chain. Food producers are digitizing their production floors with robotics, ecommerce, and digital food-management tools. Restaurants are also employing robots for hospitality and cooking, as well as promoting ecommerce. The food industry is tackling the continuing impact of the COVID-19 situation using all the above tools, towards efficient, transparent, and sustainable operations.
Innovation Map outlines the Top 10 Food Technology Trends & 20 Promising Startups
For this in-depth research on the Top Food Technology Trends & Startups, we analyzed a sample of 5.065 global startups and scaleups. The result of this research is data-driven innovation intelligence that improves strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies & startups in the food industry. These insights are derived by working with our Big Data & Artificial Intelligence-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 2.093.000+ startups & scaleups globally. The platform quickly delivers an exhaustive overview of emerging technologies within a specific field as well as identifies relevant startups & scaleups early on.
In the Innovation Map below, you get an overview of the Top 10 Industry Trends & Innovations that impact food tech companies worldwide. Moreover, the Food Tech Innovation Map reveals 20 hand-picked startups, all working on emerging technologies that advance their field.
Tree Map reveals the Impact of the Top 10 Food Technology Trends
The Tree Map below illustrates the top 10 Food Technology trends that will impact companies in 2021. Consumers shifting to alternative protein sources are the most significant trend in the food industry. The increased awareness of nutrition and health concerns during the pandemic drives the demand for nutraceuticals and personalized nutrition. Food ecommerce is another big trend that is further fueled by the COVID-19 situation. Also, there is a substantial rise in food safety concerns directly impacting food transparency across the food value chain. With digitization being an integral part of the food & beverage industry, companies are adopting restaurant digitization, digital food management, and food robotics to improve operations. Plus, food brands are focussing on food waste reduction and are adopting zero-waste practices. 3D food printers are also a part of the food technology trends, enabling many other major trends such as meat alternatives and personalized nutrition.
Global Startup Heat Map covers 5.065 Food Technology Startups & Scaleups
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the global distribution of the 4.351 exemplary startups & scaleups that we analyzed for this research. Created through the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, the Heat Map reveals that the US is home to most of these companies while we also observe increased activity in Europe, particularly in France.
Below, you get to meet 20 out of these 5.065 promising startups & scaleups as well as the solutions they develop. These 20 startups were hand-picked based on criteria such as founding year, location, funding raised, and more. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.
Top 10 Food Technology Trends in 2021
Consumers are shifting towards alternative protein sources due to both health and environmental concerns, making it one of the most relevant food technology trends. Cultured meat, plant, edible insects, and mycoprotein-based foods are the primary alternative protein sources at present. Not only are they nutrient-rich, but they also minimize resource use from farm to fork, unlike protein from livestock. They reduce the overall costs as alternative protein sources demand only marginal dietary requirements and health monitoring. Advancements in 3D printing, fermentation, and molecular biology enable startups to develop sustainable alternative protein production solutions. This helps food companies offset the ethical concerns and footprint of industrial meat production.
The Protein Brewery offers Animal-Free Protein
Dutch startup The Protein Brewery develops FERMOTEIN, a proprietary animal-free alternative protein source. FERMOTEIN production involves brewing non-allergenic crops and fungi with essential amino acids and fiber. The startup’s alternative protein has 10% fat and water binding properties, contributing to a meat-like taste. FERMOTEIN is a pure ingredient with only brewed fibrous protein. The startup’s solution helps sustainable food developers save time in food as it does not need additional processing to adapt the taste for end products.
ento manufactures Insect-based Protein
Malaysian startup ento farms crickets in a controlled environment to develop nutritious cricket-based food products. The startup’s insect-based alternative protein offers more proteins per gram than beef and contains all nine essential amino acids. Also, ento’s cricket farming solution requires less land, water, and food than traditional livestock production, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This enables food producers to save production costs.
There is an increasing concern for the impact of food habits on health and a growing need for essential nutrients for a healthy lifestyle. With the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are focusing more on eating healthy, making nutraceuticals a top emerging trend in the food industry. This is a critical element in driving the demand for nutraceuticals. These include nutritional supplements, functional foods, medicinal food, and gut microbiome enhancement foods such as prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. Scientific research on nutraceuticals suggests that various nutraceuticals provide health benefits against disorders related to oxidative stress such as allergy, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and immune diseases.
Farmhand Organics provides Fermented Foods
Based in the US, food startup Farmhand Organics develops hand-crafted, naturally probiotic, plant-based, fermented foods using organic ingredients. The startup’s organic krauts and kimchi facilitate healthy digestion, as well as maintain sleep and immunity balance. Further, Farmhand Organics’ fermented vegetables are nutrient-rich and flavorful. The startup sources its ingredients directly from family farms and other local suppliers, reducing the carbon footprint due to transport.
Voll Sante makes Functional Food
Indian startup Voll Sante provides functional foods & beverages and nutraceuticals. The startup’s products utilize natural ingredients to prevent and manage malnutrition. Also, Voll Sante’s nutraceutical products help consumers avoid chronic diseases and thereby reduce healthcare costs. This, in effect, turns the focus of healthcare from reactive to preventive. The startup’s nutraceuticals are available as protein and vitamin supplements, immunity boosters, and breakfast cereals.
Ecommerce has been in the spotlight in the food & beverages industry for a while now. But, the COVID-19 situation further pushed innovations in food supply chains. Food brands utilize digital platforms to offer on-demand online delivery services and reach customers through direct-to-customer (D2C) distribution models. Also, the safety concerns during the pandemic are promoting the growth of ghost kitchens or cloud kitchens that offer only food takeout and deliveries. Along with D2C, brands are focussing on omnichannel distribution to improve customer experience and improve sales. Moreover, food & beverage ecommerce helps food manufacturers to reach their customers better as well as ensure availability.
Orderscape creates Restaurant Voice Bots
US-based startup Orderscape makes restaurant voice bots that work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The startup integrates its solution into restaurants’ existing digital order receiving devices such as point-of-sale (POS) devices and tablets, enabling convenient voice-based food ordering for all users. This increases brand accessibility and lets restaurants convert local queries into actionable tasks. Further, the startup offers call center automation with conversational artificial intelligence (AI), improving resource management and providing 24×7 availability.
Ghost Kitchen offers Kitchen Spaces
South Korean startup Ghost Kitchen provides individual kitchen spaces to quickly start delivery businesses. At present, the startup owns 143 kitchens with adequate hygiene management and workflow from material storage to cooking, packaging, and delivery. Also, Ghost Kitchen enables data-driven planning services through a shared data collection from the entire individual kitchens. In effect, the startup minimizes expenses for contracts and interiors by directly offering standalone kitchens for restaurants and other food delivery entrepreneurs.
As customers now are more thoughtful about the quality of food products they buy, food safety is a significant concern. With smart labels and standalone food grading devices available to customers, it is easy for them to make knowledgeable decisions before choosing food items. Also, advancements in blockchain and real-time food monitoring using the Internet of Things (IoT) devices enable food brands to provide end-to-end traceability. Startups are further advancing traceability and transparency of food products by developing cost-effective and scalable monitoring solutions. This increases the trust between food producers and consumers, positively impacting brand credibility and sales.
Qualizy automates Food Safety Compliance for Restaurants
French startup Qualizy provides a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform to automate food safety compliance in restaurants. The startup’s digital food safety and health, safety, and environment (HSE) management platform allows restaurants to deploy audits and checklists, monitor temperature automatically, as well as track allergens and expiry dates. Further, Qualizy’s solution offers real-time tracking, which helps in food waste reduction. The startup helps food & beverage companies quickly comply with local food safety regulations without paperwork.
ThisFish develops a Seafood Traceability Software
ThisFish is a Canadian startup that develops Tally, a software solution for seafood traceability. The startup digitizes data collection in real-time on the food manufacturing floor using electronic scales, barcode printers, and scanners. Also, Tally allows seafood manufacturers to upload catch certificates and compliance documents. This strengthens traceability while eliminating data errors and building trust among customers. Furthermore, ThisFish assists seafood producers in streamlining their operations for overall cost reduction, from fleet management and port unloading to production and quality control.
The rise in nutrition awareness among consumers is driving the demand for personalized nutrition choices. Personalized nutrition is a fundamental component of food technology trends as consumers desire to understand how dietary habits affect it. These are not only limited to nutrigenomics-based diets but also personal preferences such as sugar and gluten-free diet, vegan diet, and clean label food products. Innovations in 3D printing and the adoption of robotics in food assembly lines allow food manufacturers to provide nutrition personalization at scale. Also, at-home blood- and urine-based testing kits enable consumers to determine food habits that best suit their genetic profiles. Furthermore, various tracking devices allow users to track their diet and health conditions to streamline their diet. Startups help food producers allow their customers to dictate their dietary preferences better, thereby improving customer convenience and sales.
NGX provides Genetically Personalized Meal-Shakes
NGX is a British startup that develops genetically personalized meal shakes. The startup offers at-home DNA nutrition tests and utilizes the test results to personalize nutrition intake for each individual. NGX’s products are plant-based breakfast and snack shakes that contain 30 essential nutrients including valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, and more. Also, their products have minimal calories, fat, and carbohydrate value as well as zero added sugars. NGX’s meal shakes enable customers to reach their fitness goals quicker and lead healthier lives.
Anrich3D offers 3D Printed Personalized Nutrition
Singaporean startup Anrich3D provides personalized nutrition using 3D food printing. The startup allows users to catalog personalized nutrition profiles on the Anrich3D portal and maintain a centralized facility to make customized meals at scale. To 3D print food, the startup begins by making pastes from food ingredients which are then extruded with an extruder. Also, the startup’s 3D printing supports multi-material printing to produce multi-ingredient foods. Anrich3D’s food printing solution helps hospitals and restaurants offer personalized meal programs based on individuals’ nutrition requirements and preferences.
6. Restaurant Digitization
Restaurant digitization provides enhanced customer experience and enables smooth operation management. Plus, it helps restaurant businesses to gather data points at each stage, enabling data-driven decision-making throughout the operations. Moreover, the disruption of the food & beverage industry due to the COVID-19 is causing a shift in restaurants adopting digital management systems across the supply chain. To reduce direct human-to-human contact, restaurants integrate digital menus, self-service kiosks, and cashless payment methods. Furthermore, chatbots and voice bots are up-and-coming tools in assisting customers in real-time with food orders and any other restaurant-related queries. With customer preference and behavior data, AI-enabled tools offer food recommendations to the customers and develop new recipes.
AAHI develops a Customer Engagement Platform
AAHI is a Czech startup that provides a customer engagement platform for restaurants. The startup’s contactless ordering platform uses digital menus and QR codes, supports multiple languages, and is tailorable to brand specifications. This offers a unique interactive experience for customers along with minimizing direct contact between personnel and customers. Also, the platform optimizes customer-restaurant interactions, thereby increasing order frequency. Additionally, AAHI’s Ecological Marketplace connects restaurants with customers interested in sustainability and promotes special offers to turn unsold and less popular items into revenue, reducing food wastage.
Lean Restaurant offers End-to-End Restaurant Digitization
Lean Restaurant is a Kuwait-based startup that provides end-to-end restaurant digitization services, purchasing support, and data-driven metrics. The startup’s Kitchen App and Waiter allow kitchen staff and waiters to monitor the order flow in real-time and serve the customers efficiently. The E-Menu and E-Payments assist customers in contactless transactions during dine-in and take-out through digital menus and QR codes. Furthermore, Lean Restaurant offers a whole set of tools, Cashier POS, Online Ordering Systems, CRM, and Delivery System, to streamline restaurant operations. Other solutions from the startup help restaurants in hospitality management and accounting.
7. Digital Food Management
Big data analytics and AI, along with real-time monitoring, enable digital food management from farm to fork. Startups develop food management solutions to help food producers optimize manufacturing processes and supply chain operations. Moreover, restaurant digitization further optimizes customer behavior analysis and demand forecasting using real-time data acquisition on food products and consumers. Altogether, these solutions help food producers better understand market requirements and predict disruptions, thereby reducing losses and managing surplus food. For example, quantum computing helps startups analyze critical disruptions, such as pandemics, and simulate market fluctuations efficiently. Additionally, customer and market intelligence allows brands to optimize their marketing strategies and effectively reach the relevant audience, boosting sales.
Tastewise develops a Food Intelligence AI Engine
Tastewise is an Israeli startup that provides customer intelligence. The startup’s food intelligence AI engine collects customer data points based on their interactions in social media and digital restaurant platforms. It then cleans and classifies the data using historical consumer behavior and restaurant activities to identify critical insights into their preferences and overall trends. It visualizes these insights as dashboards and reports, enabling restaurant owners to formulate strategies for product innovation, content marketing, and customer retention.
Food Market Hub provides a Procurement and Inventory System
Malaysian startup Food Market Hub offers a cloud-based procurement and inventory system for food & beverage businesses. The startup’s solution automates the supply chain through real-time inventory tracking and automatically generates purchase orders. Also, it emails the purchase orders to the suppliers. The startup’s smartphone app allows restaurant managers to handle all procurement in a single place. Food Market Hub helps restaurants forecast purchases by analyzing weather reports, past data, and holiday calendars for better inventory control.
8. Food Waste Reduction
A large fraction of the food produced globally is lost or wasted. Therefore, curbing food wastage is critical to addressing food insecurity. Food entrepreneurs and large corporations now focus on reducing food wastage to minimize environmental footprint and save costs. Food monitoring solutions help food producers, restaurants, and smart cities reduce their food waste. Also, there is a paradigm shift from food waste reduction to zero waste approaches in food manufacturing. Food brands are upcycling and reusing food waste to generate value and increase their reach to consumers interested in sustainability. For example, 3D food printing solutions that use food waste to print edible food products curb food waste.
Lumitics develops Smart Food Waste Tracker
Lumitics is a Singaporean startup that tracks food waste. The startup’s smart food waste tracker, Insight, uses proprietary AI-based image recognition. The startup provides chefs with visibility on their food waste as feedback loops between the customers and the food quality. This allows restaurants and other food outlets to optimize their production and craft menu based on customer preferences. Lumitics’ Insight helps stakeholders reduce food waste at hotels, airplanes, and cruise ships, reducing food costs.
Food Drop connects Surplus Food to Local Charities
British startup Food Drop connects stores with unsold or surplus food to local charities, schools, and community groups. The startup’s online platform allows stores and charities to sign up, which then matches the stores and local charities. Food Drop’s automated platform ensures a supply of charities to collect the surplus from stores at the end of the day. Also, if a charity is unavailable for pick up, the platform notifies stores in real-time. The startup’s solution provides monthly reports on donated food and carbon savings.
The food & beverage industry incorporates robotics into the entire value chain to advance efficiency, consistency, and scale during food production. Food brands also deploy hospitality robots at hotels and restaurants to improve customer convenience and safety. Robotic chefs and food processing robots further fuel food robotics as a prominent food technology trend. Also, autonomous drones and vehicles are emerging to be efficient substitutes for manual delivery services while saving overall costs. Drones and other food handling robots at warehouses and grocery stores enable fast and cost-effective food tagging and monitoring. In effect, the robotics bloom in the food industry is expediting food production revenue with enhanced speed and precise food quality control.
Bear Robotics manufactures Autonomous Food Service Robots
Based in the US, Bear Robotics is a startup that creates Servi, a food serving robot that autonomously serves food and drinks. Servi assists waiters in carrying dishes and comes with a low footprint, making it easy to navigate in narrow and crowded spaces. For navigation, Servi uses cameras and laser sensors, allowing it to navigate without any blind spots. Also, Servi’s safety-first design approach prioritizes stopping and changing direction upon coming across any intervention. Bear Robotic’s solutions make hospitality more manageable and improve operating efficiency and service quality.
ROBOEATZ provides Autonomous Robotic Kitchens
ROBOEATZ is a Canadian startup developing AI-based autonomous robotic kitchens for restaurants, grocery stores, and office spaces. The startup’s ARK 03 robot uses proprietary software for autonomous operation of kitchen tasks, including hot and cold food storage, preparation, plating, cleaning, and sanitizing. Additionally, ARK 03 features automatic ordering and inventory control that keeps a tab on ingredient supply and automatically requests refills from wholesalers. ROBOEATZ’s solution improves the efficiency of food production while requiring minimal human intervention and adhering to effective food safety practices.
10. 3D Food Printers
3D food printers enable personalized diet and alternative protein-based meals, as well as precise and reproducible nutrition. Even though material extrusion is the most common food printing method, startups are using laser and inkjet food printing, as well as bioprinting methods, to develop food products. These approaches focus on increasing the quality and precision of the 3D-printed food product. Since food brands need food products with the exact specifications and quality reproducibility, more research is ongoing in 3D food printing for large-scale food production. Such solutions reduce the complexity and costs of food production. Also, 3D printing allows food brands to offer personalized food products at scale without additional tooling and operational costs.
SavorEat prints Plant-based Meat
SavorEat is an Israeli startup that develops plant-based meat using a combination of chef robots, proprietary 3D printing, and non-GMO ingredients. At present, the startup produces meatless burgers and plans to expand to steaks, kebabs, and alternative seafood. SavorEat’s meat alternatives recreate the unique experience, taste, and texture of real meat and are tailorable to specific tastes, diets, and lifestyles. The startup’s 3D printing technology is ideal for fast, precise, and consistent results for food trucks, restaurants, and hotels.
COCUUS manufactures Bioinks for 3D Food Printers
Spanish startup COCUUS produces plant- or cell-based animal protein analogs using 2D/3D laser printing, bioprinting, and robotics. The startup offers LEVEL-UP inkjet 3D printers and LASERGLOW laser 2D/3D printers for food producers. The LASERGLOW is accurate to design specifications and supports 3D shapes as well as hyper-personalization. On the other hand, LEVEL-UP is suitable for product customization with surface filling at scale. The startup’s 3D printers allow restaurants and food brands to personalize their products without tooling changes and help in improving the brand reach, boosting sales.
Discover all Food Tech Technologies & Startups
The top 10 food technology trends advance research in sustainable food sources and food waste elimination. Also, rapid improvement in Industry 4.0 is unavoidable in the food industry for improved efficiency, consistency, and scale. 3D food printing is a promising technology to facilitate food production and aid other main trends, ensuring further investment in the 3D food printers and bio-inks. In addition to the major trends, advances in artificial intelligence and big data analytics are valuable for optimizing the food industry operations. Altogether, the food & beverage is moving towards sustainability while improving the overall operational efficiency.
The Food Technology Trends & Startups outlined in this report only scratch the surface of trends that we identified during our in-depth research. Among others, AI & Big Data will transform the sector as we know it today. Identifying new opportunities and emerging technologies to implement into your business early on goes a long way in gaining a competitive advantage. Get in touch to easily and exhaustively scout relevant technologies & startups that matter to you.