The United Nations (UN) reports that around 820 million people worldwide suffer from hunger, and it’s closely linked to poverty and difficulties in obtaining food. Reducing food waste is one of the keys to solving this problem, a trend that is becoming more consolidated globally.
The food-tech industry is one of the most developed sectors in the startup world. Despite the pandemic, it experienced a 42% growth during 2020, something directly related to changes in consumer preferences.
And since this is a sector in constant development, 2022 brings new challenges for companies in the industry, which must adapt to the trends of a market that is increasingly aware of the practices behind food production.
Food-tech industry: main macro trends for 2022
As the industry grows, new technologies are emerging, bringing with them the development of key solutions and trends to enhance sustainability in the food industry:
The development of smart farms
According to the World Bank, agriculture uses—on average— 70% of the water withdrawn globally, showing the enormous water consumption required to produce food such as fruits, vegetables, and cereals.
With over 1 billion people currently living in water-scarce areas —and the figure could reach 3.5 billion by 2025 —it is urgent to rethink farming methods to optimize water consumption.
In this regard, smart farms represent one of the leading trends to optimize water use and maintain a more environmentally friendly food production.
It is possible to reduce water use through smart farms by analyzing data obtained from IoT sensors (such as soil moisture) allowing better use of this resource.
Such is the impact of this trend that it is estimated that the smart farming market will reach 34.1 billion dollars by 2026. This will be driven by the increase in demand for IoT (Internet of Things) solutions and precision agriculture. It is a sustainable alternative that helps combat the waste of resources, optimize costs, and reduce the environmental impact of traditional practices.
In fact, by implementing IoT solutions, it is possible to reduce water consumption by 30%, reflecting the impact that smart farms can have in avoiding the waste of this vital resource.
Natural products to your door
Due to the pandemic, home food delivery has had room to grow and increase its sales.
Moreover, because these companies usually make deliveries in cardboard boxes—eliminating the plastic packaging—it is a much more environmentally friendly process. Not to mention the convenience for the user to stock up on natural products without leaving home.
In Chile, we can see the scope that grocery delivery has achieved. Some municipalities in the Metropolitan Region reached an agreement with free fairs so that residents can purchase fruits and vegetables through an app. Undoubtedly, this is an example of a growing practice with the widespread use of mobile devices and Internet access.
Strengthening companies that combat food waste
Based on data compiled by the Australian organization OzHarvest, one-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted (about 1.3 billion tons), reflecting the huge challenge that exists both at the humanitarian level, due to hunger, and in terms of sustainability.
Fortunately, innovative mindsets have realized the opportunities behind this reality, such as CoFood. This company seeks to sell food that is about to expire at a lower price through an app, which benefits both consumers and the planet, preventing tons of food from ending up in landfills.
Similarly, there are valuable solutions based on the reuse of food waste, making the most of waste from agricultural processes, which is key to increasing sustainability in the food industry.
A clear example of this is the natural coatings for fruits and vegetables, which contribute doubly to the cause.
On the one hand, they help reduce food waste by extending its shelf life. On the other hand, they are made 100% with vegetable elements, unlike traditional solutions made with low molecular weight polyethylene (diluted plastic), ammonium hydroxides, and petroleum derivatives, among other components.
Shel-Life: a key to reducing food waste
PolyNatural created a solution that plays an essential role in reducing fruit waste and thus reducing the sector’s environmental impact.
It is Shel-Life, a 100% natural coating that extends the shelf life of fruits and vegetables by lowering dehydration levels and controlling the growth of microorganisms.
With Shel-Life, it is possible to maintain product quality for longer without using synthetic ingredients, increasing the profitability of investments and consolidating companies among consumers who are increasingly demanding the carbon footprint of the food they eat.
Shel-Life’s potential is such that in 2020 alone, a total of 273.6 tons will not be wasted thanks to this natural coating, a key solution to reduce fruit waste and thus make the food sector an increasingly sustainable industry.