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7. New Frontiers in the Lab

7. New Frontiers in the Lab

Biotechnologies applied to food, farming technologies and even foods that are not foods: here's the future of food as it's developing in the lab.

By FDL on

One particular aspect of the Internet of Food that currently shows a strong growth rate is that of research into new nutritious and tasty foods, both natural and artificial, with a preference for the eco-friendly variety.

For this reason, there is much talk about biotechnologies applied to food, farming technology, artificial foods, and even, paradoxically, foods that are not foods.


Consumers are increasingly food conscious so manufacturing companies are having to supply precise information on the composition of their products. Genomics, together with food DNA studies, come to their aid in this respect: Clear labs supplies manufacturing companies with molecular food analyses able to reveal whether a food contains allergens and synthetic products, but also bacteria and GMOs.

Trace Genomics analyses the soil to be farmed, in order to check for the presence of any pathogens prior to crop sowing.

Impossible foods

The most famous start-up in the industry is Impossible Foods: California-based, it unites engineers, researchers and genetic experts to recreate a meatless burger in a lab whose taste is identical to the “real” version. Its objective is to recreate a taste experience for those consumers who cannot or do not wish to eat meat, but also to reduce the environmental impact of animal breeding.

Similarly, Beyond Meat also leans on laboratory research to artificially recreate proteins (those of beef and chicken) and to produce packaged food for distribution through supermarket retail channels. Another start-up associated with the test tube creation of foods without animal-sourced ingredients is New Harvest. This company has led to various spin-offs such as a start-up producing eggs without hens and another producing milk without cows.

Drones and Robots

While the pace of adoption of drone delivery will have disappointed some futurists  – and there are a number of legal obstacles to overcome – it seems inevitable that one day our packages and takeout will arrive, quite literally, by air.

The likes of Flirtey, who have already cut deals with food and product delivery behemoths such as Dominoes and Amazon, could well be at the forefront of that, while Infinium Robotics is exploring the possibility of service drones in restaurants. If the thought of the latter has food and drinks professionals alarmed, then Moley Robotics’ chef arms will do nothing to sooth their concerns, though the reluctant home cook will likely welcome a helping mechanical hand.

Next-generation drinks

Along with impossible foods and alternative ingredients, today’s beverage industry is characterised by a proliferation of new formulations.

Some start-ups have entered the high varied ‘healthy’ drink market: such as Soylent which offers products containing an ideal intake of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, thanks to “food engineering” or Juicero that provides consumers with a cold juice extractor and packaged organic fruit and vegetables which go straight into the machine.




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