Innovations in food

From insect protein to vertical farms

At Proco Global, we’re always looking at the latest innovations across our sectors. The future of food is fascinating – everyday, we’re hearing about new creations and developments in the food and beverage sector that could revolutionize the way we consume. This is partly due to an overall shift towards healthier consumptions, but also for environmental and sustainable reasons. This article explores a few of the latest advances in this sector and how they affect business operations in F&B. 

Fermentation 

A large conversation is taking place regarding the ethical and economical viability of mass meat production as we know it. For this reason, more and more people are adopting a plant-based lifestyle, or at least attempting to cut down on their meat consumption. With this we’ve seen a rise in protein innovations hitting the shelves over the last decade or so. Names such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are now household names and found in most supermarkets.  

This means that jobs are being created in a number of sectors that we’ve never seen before. For example, fermentation technology is booming, heralded as a way to mimic the mouthfeel of meat. This has resulted in the creation of hundreds, if not thousands of jobs in this niche sector, linking science with the food and beverage industry. Research is being conducted at a huge scale and – as there’s always new developments in alternative proteins – many labs are continuing to expand their research capabilities.  

Vertical farming  

Another innovation in food and beverage is vertical farming, which presents a more economically viable and sustainable method of growing crops. Vertical farming is the process of growing crops vertically, in stacked layers. It is a very efficient system that requires far less irrigation than soil-grown plants. There’s also much less wastage involved – almost all the moisture in this system is reused and recirculated. Of course, that’s not to mention that vertical farming requires a fraction of the land requirements for traditional farming.  

The New Jersey-based company AeroFarms is pioneering this development. The company, founded in 2004, has seen an impressive amount of growth as the vertical farming industry continues to establish itself as an important part of the supply chain. According to a report from the WWF from 2020, this industry is projected to grow to a value of $3 billion by the end of 2024.  

Insect protein 

Innovations within insect protein are definitely less attractive to most people than other developments. But according to one report, the market for edible insects is set to reach near $5 billion by the end of 2027. Cricket biscuits don’t sound like the most appetizing snack in the world. But earlier this month, the EU voted to approve the first insect product for human consumption. The product in question is dried yellow mealworm from the biotech company Agronutris 

What does this mean for business across the globe? Should the insect protein field expand beyond its current horizons, it will have effects on nearly every dimension of the food and beverage industry. The number of jobs available across the entire supply chain will increase drastically, from R&D roles down to supplying products to vendors.  

Hiring Challenges 

Despite all this innovation and job creation, this burgeoning industry is, like most others, facing a global talent shortage. The UK, for example, is currently facing its worst labor shortage in decades. This is due to a number of reasons, many a direct result of the pandemic. Firstly, people are experiencing a ‘post-COVID clarity’ where they choose to leave their industries in pursuit of other interests. A second reason is that immigration constraints as a result of COVID-19 have caused the talent pool to shrink. This is contributing to the still disrupted global supply chain, along with other various kinks (e.g., the lack of shipping containers available).  

With government assistance programs worldwide coming to an end as the economy continues to recover, the problem is likely to worsen. As an employer, there are a number of ways to help curb the effect of the labor shortage. These include: 

  • Rethink location: Working from home and working from anywhere on a permanent basis are now legitimate realities for thousands of people and may help retain talent. 
  • Invest in staff: Workers need reasons to stay in their current positions. Re-evaluating how you develop and incentivize your staff is the best way to reaffirm their commitment to your company.  
  • Stay alert: Keep an eye on all the newest trends and developments in global work culture. We’ve learned to adapt the way we work and expect others to work, and this could continue to change as we enter a post-pandemic future.  

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date with all the latest trends and developments across the global supply chain. In this article, we’ve been focusing on innovations within the food and beverage industry. To read the first article in the series, click here. If you’d like to get in touch with someone at Proco Global, please don’t hesitate to drop us a message here. 

Interested in a career that builds global partnerships? Click here to find out more about working at Proco.  

Share this insight: