Intellectual Property in Food Technology

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

Food Technology

Food technology aids in turning 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. There is a growing demand for healthier and safer food in the present. As newer advancements drive the global market, projections estimate the food-tech industry to be worth $343 billion in the next five years. Multiple factors affect the industry. Most notably, consumers are the key drivers of change in the market. Customers feel an increasing need for transparency in the food supply chain. Additionally, food must be cost-effective. Lastly, people want more sustainable and ethical practices to be employed in food production. Food science and technology practices can ensure improvement in these areas. In the last five years, there have been numerous patents filed for healthy meals worldwide. Most of these involve the preparation and treatment of fruits and vegetables. Other innovations include formulating additives and the creation of artificial replicates. Currently, the countries dominating the industry are China, Korea, and the United States, with China filing the highest number of patents worldwide. Notably, the market is fragmented, with small to medium-sized (SME) manufacturers comprising most of the market revenue. The list of innovations in the industry is quite long, ranging from food production, mode of delivery or distribution, and consumption. The most effective methods in the industry include laboratory-grown or alt-protein, the manufacturing of sustainable packaging, devising food processing techniques, and the creation of a customer’s personalized diet/nutrition plan. Enhancements in regards to distribution include service industry automation through robotics and interactive artificial intelligence, and perhaps the most widely known, mobile app-based delivery services. However, the food industry continues to transform alongside the market. As the customers’ needs change, businesses must also follow suit. Established companies sometimes fall back on traditional, tried-and-tested methods of preparing food, but some rely on new and cutting-edge technologies to refine their existing techniques, leading to considerable profit margins.

Reinventing Food Technology

In the past few years, the food industry experienced substantial changes. There was public demand for food with more nutritional value. Additionally, consumers questioned the transparency of their food supply chain, which influenced how manufacturers would address food safety concerns. Businesses, both budding startups, and more prominent companies, have to keep up with their consumer needs. This would ensure the sustainability of their business and give them a competitive edge against others in the industry. Moreover, customers desire more eco-friendly food sourcing and production techniques. Food production has a significant impact on society and the environment, negatively affecting ecosystems and causing pollution not just during processing, but also because of the use of plastic in packaging. Industrial farming alone will be responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in 30 years. On the other hand, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that consistent advancements in the industry could play a critical role in resolving global food insecurity by 2030. The continuous evolution of food science and technology is lucrative for companies seeking to benefit from more unconventional practices. IP protection in this field can range from patents on food processing, packaging, and even equipment.

The Future of Food Technology

Emerging technologies in the food industry continue to be developed rapidly. Many advances have already been made in the food production sector, particularly in the use of remote sensing and machine learning techniques to predict crop yield and improve food security. Researchers have also been working on intervention technologies to inhibit pathogens and make sure food is safe for consumption. Much has also been done to improve the food supply system, particularly through the use of blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT). Both technologies are introducing new methods of tracking supply as it makes its way from farm to table. Moreover, producing environmentally friendly food has also been gaining traction in the industry. Alternative sources of protein are being researched, from plant-based, to lab-grown meat, and even fermentation-based protein. Bloomberg estimates the plant-based alternative industry to reach $162 billion by 2030. Upcycling food such as by-products or scraps are also being investigated in order to mitigate the effects of food wastage. Finally, food and beverage manufacturers are exploring 3D food printing as a more efficient way to produce food, with others aiming for 3D printing to become the new norm in creating personalized nutrition or diet plans.

Key Takeaways

Investors continue to see the benefits that food-tech startups bring to the food industry. The emerging technologies bring in revenue because these companies use innovative techniques that understand the market, ensuring customer success. Thus, companies must protect their IP because these can be potential monetization avenues. These avenues can include categories such as food processing and innovations that might make cooking a more efficient process. As consumer demands continue to grow, more established competitors will continue to evolve and adopt emerging tech practices in the food industry. In the coming years, it is expected that the food industry will continue to develop more innovations to improve food preparation, distribution, and consumption.
Categories: Patents