We’ve already spoken about new generations of consumers expecting high levels of customisation in their food and also about how personalised nutrition is going to play an increasing role in food procurement.
In this article we discuss the pinnacle of personalisation, customisation and cutting-edge innovation: printing your own lunch.
Originally born from the need to feed astronauts whilst in space, 3D printing offers a variety of solutions, notably in allowing people to choose their own ingredients and foods that meet their specific needs.
For the general population, this new technology, although in its infant stages, could have a profound impact on how we think about food and, in turn, the sustainability of the current supply chain.
If you are a regular reader of our blog, you’ll remember we have recently written about using insects to provide more sustainable sources of food and about the social and cultural challenges associated with this food type in the western world, or the possibility to grow meat protein in a lab; now 3D-printed food allows us to use these key protein sources, re-formed and resold in more attractive and palatable shapes.
Food waste is also reduced with this technique, which is a key benefit to this technology. With the help of 3D food printing we are finding new solutions for otherwise discarded stock. Taking the less attractive leftovers from the production process - which were previously likely to have been thrown away - and reselling them in more attractive 3D-printed forms vastly improves demand for many different food products.
Whilst there aren’t yet any 3D printers ready for use in the everyday kitchen, that day is fast approaching. Consumers are already getting a taste of the action, quite literally, as innovative restaurateurs and food scientists take to the streets. Pop-up restaurant Food Ink is an example of this. Starting in London, they took their strong sustainability message and motivation on tour. Customers were invited to sit and enjoy entirely 3D printed meals complete with food theatre and very visible processes – exciting and inspiring a new generation of food engineers, chefs and restaurateurs.