With the world’s population growing faster than ever before, feeding nearly eight billion people represents a huge challenge. Thankfully, we’re living in an era with more technology at our fingertips than ever before.
All around the world, companies and farms are using technology to solve a whole raft of problems. So how is technology helping the food industry?
As our demand for food grows exponentially, farms are starting to get bigger and bigger. Even an experienced farmer is going to start having trouble keeping track of all the crops on their land. Enter satellite farming, also known as precision agriculture.
This practice is probably the largest scale way that technology is helping the food industry. Satellite farming allows farmers to utilize GPS and satellite surveillance to monitor and analyze factors like soil quality, crop yield, and weather behavior. With the data obtained from these readings, farmers can manage their land much more efficiently to increase the number of successful crops.
For example, if one section of the farm is struggling compared to the rest, the farmer can use satellite farming to work out why that is. It could be that the area hosts fragile crops that are particularly susceptible to strong winds or pests. To remedy this, the farmer could plant in some cover crops to protect the weaker plants.
Drones and robots
Multiple industries are beginning to use drones, robots, and automated machinery more and more. The food industry can also benefit from this technology. Robots can be used in various applications, from automated packaging lines to testing facilities. Some companies can even train robots to perform tasks that can injure humans, such as butchering particularly tough meat products.
Drones can be utilized by farmers, allowing them to survey their entire farm remotely. This helps the farmer to identify damaged, diseased, or unproductive areas of the farm. Using drones in this way can work with satellite farming methods, allowing farmers to micromanage their farmland and boost their crop yields. Drones could also be used to apply pesticides to affected areas that may be hard to reach through conventional means.
Automated technology may even progress to the point where heavy farming machinery is operated remotely, allowing farmers to harvest their crops more easily. Drones could also be used to harvest crops while being controlled from afar.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing technological advances in the food industry is 3D printed food. As our understanding of 3D printing grows and our technology becomes more advanced, we may be able to “print” basic foodstuffs quickly and efficiently.
The ramifications of this technology could be huge. 3D printing may take up less space than acres of farmland, yet may enable us to produce food at a faster rate. We would also not have to rely upon the seasons, allowing us to grow crops all year round. This could help to combat famine and world hunger.
There are potential environmental benefits as well. Meat production and land clearance for pastures is a controversial topic at the moment. But several teams of scientists are working on ways to grow “lab meat”, which doesn’t require domesticated animals to produce. If this could be perfected, it could reduce the immense greenhouse gas emissions from the meat industry.
With climate change often dominating the headlines, every industry needs to find ways to reduce our reliance on plastic packaging and other environmentally hazardous products. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, yet we throw away nearly 390 million tons every year. A large portion of this comes from plastic food packaging.
Technology can help us find ways of sourcing and producing more sustainable packaging materials. Styrofoam can be replaced with packaging grown from mushrooms, while paper bags can take over from plastic ones.
Materials such as bamboo, which grows extremely fast, can provide alternatives to plastic if we have the technology to use them correctly. Biodegradable or compostable packaging is becoming increasingly common. These products allow us to keep foodstuffs preserved, without the environmental impact that comes with plastic.
Food waste management
Currently, almost a third of all the food produced globally for us to eat ends up being thrown away. That causes a sizable environmental impact as well as costing money. But with technology, we can find ways to utilize this unheralded resource to create a more sustainable society.
Waste food products can be processed to make biofuels, which reduce our reliance on petrol and other fossil fuels. We can collect and refine waste food into compost and other fertilizers to use on agricultural land instead of synthetic products.
Some restaurants are also using technology such as food digesters to reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills. These devices accelerate the process of breaking down food, turning the waste into a non-harmful liquid that can simply be washed away.
Digital food safety management
All of these technological innovations are great, but many of them aren’t accessible for most restaurants or catering businesses. However, a digital food safety management system can be used by virtually any catering company – helping to keep your ingredients safe for your customers while also saving your staff time.
With strict global regulations in place that govern food safety, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), caterers have to make sure that their ingredients are stored safely at correct temperatures and conditions. This can be a pain to keep on top of, but digital food safety systems can either automate the process or make it much easier for staff.
If you use a dedicated HACCP digital plan, you can record and store your safety data in an easily accessible online or cloud-based location. You can also access both your data and your automated systems remotely, as well as being alerted when checks are needed. This makes it easier to concentrate on serving your patrons and running your cafe or restaurant.
Contact FoodDocs today to take advantage of digital food safety technology with a customized HACCP plan!