The Food Innovation Summit held in Washington, D.C., explored how the food technologies of tomorrow will change the way we eat. For example, tooth sensors that measure sugar and alcohol intake and ingestible health monitors could shape the future of the food industry.
Max Elder, a researcher at the Institute for the Future's Food Futures Lab, said, "The future is already here." He added that if CPGs want to prepare for future obstacles now then they will need to "work backward" to strategize steps they can take to create the industry they want. "We do not sit in our little think tank in Palo Alto, [Calif.,] and look at our crystal balls and make some statement that in 10 years X will happen," he said. "Instead, what we can do is identify preferred futures so we can think about what we want the future to look like."
A recent study by the Center for Food Integrity also found that only 33% of survey respondents "strongly agree" that they are confident in the safety of the food they consume. Because of this distrust, a new suite of technologies has been developed to help consumers make better-informed decisions about their food, Elder said. He said these "radical" devices would likely be widespread over the next decade.
For example, a lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is working to develop an ingestible sensor that would monitor gastrointestinal health; Tufts University has created a tooth sensor, which is 2 millimeters by 2 millimeters, that can measure glucose, sugar and alcohol intake; Baidu, a Chinese search engine plant, developed smart chopsticks that can detect the freshness of cooking oil; and Nima is a portable sensor that tests for trace amounts of gluten when users put crumbs of food in a small machine.
The future of food is upon us.