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      A glimpse of the future

      A glimpse of the future

      All things must change, they say. And change is certainly the big story in 2020. It’s clear that the ongoing pandemic has created profound change in the global food system. While the outlook continues to fluctuate daily, many aspects of the industry will be transformed long-term.

      In recent months, demand on the food system means we’ve eaten our way through more fresh produce, shelf-stable products and health-added ingredients.

      The pandemic has brought forward shopping more consciously, buying locally and an embrace of e-commerce – leading to a more engaged consumer aware of what the food industry brings to society but also leaves via production/manufacturing and consumption.

      The FoodBytes! by Rabobank latest Q2 Trend Report looked closely at what will spark innovation and highlights four start-up areas that caught my interest. The four are not just here for some time to come, they are also pandemic-proof.

      1. Farm to consumer e-grocery. With a growing demand for transparency is a call for information on food sourcing. Foodbytes! sees investors revisiting this area in light of Covid-19 as consumers look to buy produce directly. This is one to watch particularly as start-ups build e-commerce channels and platforms that bring the farm gate to the consumer’s plate.
      2. Food loss. Addressing food waste pre-covid is one thing, now an extended pandemic will increase food waste further. Companies around the world are trying hard to eliminate pandemic-fuelled food waste, says Foodbytes! Startups are developing machine-learning algorithms or AI-driven technologies that enable retailers to track freshness and cut food losses.
      3. Automation and digitisation. Logic would suggest this development is one of the four. With a drive to be more efficient, comes greater adoption of tech innovations and robotics. Growing food safety and hygiene concerns have resulted in increased consideration of automation across production. Safety concerns have also lead the development of new technologies that minimise worker presence across the production process, while at the same time helping companies reduce costs.
      4. Plant-based foods. The pandemic has accelerated the trend toward buying animal-free products and plant-based alternatives. Growing consumer concerns around the sustainability of animal consumption, and a willingness to experiment, have caused plant-based foods to experience increased demand. Foodbytes! says Nielsen data, overall plant-based sales globally have increased 90 -240%, depending on the category, since March.

      If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has made it clear that change and transformation will be a constant in the food system. Resilience will be key to help companies be more creative as they succeed in the current challenging environment and drive toward a more sustainable future.

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