Summary: We are in the initial stages of a food revolution, another paradigm shift in food production: Lab Food.
Original author and publication date: Joris Peels – August 28, 2020
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: How safe will it be to print our own food and medicine? How safe it is now to buy food and medicine at the supermarket?
From the article:
As we’ve seen previously in this series, 3D printing could have a significant impact on the burgeoning meatless meat industry. Moreover, everything is surimi is everything, and everything is surimi. These two claims of mine could have a substantial effect on 3D printing as an industry and our world in general, if they turn out to have substance.
We are however, in the initial stages of a food revolution. The bigger picture sees the Industrial Revolution (which created the current food system of supermarkets, chains, and brands), the Green Revolution (which expanded agricultural production in the 1950’s), bioindustry development (which saw the dawn of AFOs, hormones in meat, caged chickens in their millions, etc.) be joined by another paradigm shift in food production: Lab Food.
Where the Industrial and Green revolutions created the infrastructure for food production for an industrialized world, the bioindustry made previously scarce animal protein inexpensive and industrialized animal slaughter. With an increased focus on ethics, health, and the origin of things, many dining trends are pointing to the need for more functional foods and more ethical foods.
The opportunity here is significant because, through the use of cutting edge techniques, new branded foods can find new channels to market and supplant the existing food system. Now the Cargills, Walmarts, Simplots and Nestles of the world will feel what it is like to get disrupted. Through technology, lower-cost, higher-margin substitutes for existing foods could be made that could additionally be healthier and yummier. By branding these goods directly to the consumer to create demand rather than relying on placement in the supermarket, the supermarket system is disrupted. Through vertical integration or ignoring traditional trading and distribution partners, that system could be disrupted. As previously stated, the VC set will come replete with disingenuous promises and overinflated expectations paired with low quality in a lot of cases with many of the challenger firms fading.
But, with a series of hundreds of million-dollar energy bar exits, food is now a cool and exceptionally rapid path to money. Impossible and Beyond are close to being one-word brands and making inroads in many different channels simultaneously. Whereas, years ago, they would live or die in the supermarket aisle, now they can sell through chains, many different stores, online, via meal delivery services, etc. The level of technological innovation that they are bringing to food is, however, rather tame by my estimation. What they’re really doing is a significant branding and value innovation by building their companies so well in the public mind.