Advances in food technology are vital today as they offer solutions for food security, sustainability, and health challenges. Skilled individuals in this field can innovate to improve agricultural practices, streamline production, reduce waste, and create healthier options. With a growing population and increasing environmental concerns, expertise in food tech is essential for building sustainable and resilient food production systems.  

In this blog, you will get to know the three most relevant trends in food tech, as well as the three most needed skills in the field. Keep reading! 

The Latest Trends in Food Technology 

Technology provides vital tools for ensuring security and integrity in our food supply systems. Let’s explore three key trends in food technology that will drive the future of the industry.  

Farmers need to mitigate environmental hazards and risks to biodiversity while dealing with uncertainty surrounding crop growth. Precision agriculture allows for farmers to use advanced technologies in drone sensing, satellite mapping, and robotic automation to form crop growth and yield models. These models allow farmers to decide on specific localized interventions rather than applying a method to the entire field, which reduces risk to the environment.  

The Smart Factory is now connected to the Internet of Things in the 21st century. Intelligent equipment can respond to real world conditions driving productivity, reducing food waste, and increasing profits. Combined with digitally connected food supply chains, data-driven food manufacturing can contribute to goals for a net zero food system.  

Food quality and safety are essential for forming trust in our food systems. Optical sensors are replacing manual checks for food quality. Food-borne illness and contaminants are decreasing with the use of biosensors and nanotechnology. These technologies allow consumers to access to nutritious food and lead healthier lives.  

Skills in Demand 

The agri-food system is falling behind the curve in adopting digital technologies. The systems are complex and require advanced digital skills to navigate tech solutions. Food systems must upskill and reskill workers to bridge the skills gap and ensure the industry harnesses technology to build sustainable food systems for the future. In the field of agri-food technology, which skills are currently in high demand? 

Food system professionals can use data to create models and improve efficiency at every step in the food system. Combining farmer knowledge with advanced analytics builds trust and a collaborative culture to tackle food system challenges. For example, fish health data analysts create forecasts for fish farms, working together with fish farmers to predict the development of disease. These models help farmers see threats and make changes for more sustainable fish farming.  

Food scientists can use big data and artificial intelligence to create new food products based on precision nutrition. Precision nutrition is a personalized nutrition framework based on individual genetic needs. Food scientists link genetic data to food components to provide new foods targeting disease and metabolic health. Combing deep tech with nutrition is the future of sustainable diets and healthier lives through food.  

Implementing sustainable practices and upskilling workers on the ground requires agile management with a lens toward sustainability. Arable farming is an agrifood system area that quickly benefits from sustainable management practices. Integrating sensing equipment to vehicles and synchronizing machines across farms allows for improved efficiency and sustainability. Management practices that encourage the use of these technologies and locally upskilling workers to implement solutions based on automated data outputs not only controls costs and increases yields, but also limits damage to the environment by using less pesticides on farmland.  

Bridging the Skills Gap 

Technology has the potential to transform the agrifood system. Industry professionals need to keep abreast of new technologies with upskilling, reskilling, and professional development. Stakeholders and management in the agrifood industry must recruit experts in digital analytics and deep tech with an interest in sustainability to apply their skills to the agrifood sector.  

Innovation in agrifood technology begins in universities with programs targeted towards engineering students and scientists to create solutions for challenges in the food system. Building a digital culture in agrifood requires a holistic approach to ensure a sustainable and net zero food system. EIT Food Education and the EIT Campus provide resources at every level of the learning journey, from the consumer looking to learn more about personalized nutrition to industry experts innovating technology in the water-food nexus. If you’re just getting started, consider introducing yourself to current sustainable food production practices and the challenges farmer face.  

About the author

Pamela is the Programme Manager for the Digital Learning Unit at EIT Food. She has extensive experience in instructional design and learning analytics applied to educational technology. Pamela manages e-learning projects and courses in collaboration with industry and academic partners prioritizing best practices in inclusion for agrifood systems.