Food science and technology is one of the most rapidly evolving fields globally. It also happens to be a popular topic since humans are always looking for new ways to improve food production. The top trends in food science and technology revolve around increasing food production in the United States and beyond.
If you are thinking of getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science and Technology, or you already have one but aren’t sure how to proceed, this article is for you. It doesn’t just cover the current trends in food science and technology. You will also find future trends and get a glimpse of how the food science industry operates.
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What Is Food Science and Technology?
Food science and technology is the application of scientific principles to the study and development of food. Food scientists use disciplines like chemistry, microbiology, and physics to come up with improved methods of mass production and distribution of food.
While food science and food technology are often classified as the same discipline, this is not the case. Food technologists use the information or research provided by food scientists to come up with the right set of tools for the presentation, distribution, and packaging of food.
It is the combined efforts of food scientists and technologists that have led to the development of canned foods, frozen foods, snacks, and all other forms of ready-to-eat or time-saving meals for human nutrition. Scientific article collections study and report on impact factors and trends in this field so professionals can strategize the best ways to fill grocery shelves with functional foods
What Is the Current State of Food Science and Technology?
The food science industry is currently experiencing rapid changes across the board. Innovators are coming up with all kinds of tech-based tools that can promote the mass production of food. There are also advancements targeted at removing as many human hands as possible in the entire lifecycle of food manufacturing.
According to the current food industry report on Statista, the United States food market generated a revenue of around $9 million in 2022. It is also expected to experience steady growth of 5.29 percent between 2022-2026. This is all thanks to food scientists, technologists, farmers, retailers, food handlers, and all those involved in the production of food.
Impact of Remote Work on the Food Science and Technology Industry
The surge in demand for faster and more effective ways to provide food to the people has been fueled by the evolution of a more remote work format. People tend to eat more food when they are at home compared to when they work on-site jobs, and this led to questions about online control of food quality.
So, the growth of remote work has also boosted the food economy, particularly in terms of online food shopping. Because of the pandemic, many shoppers reference the news or public health advice before choosing to buy food in-store. Major grocery chains have had to develop rapid techniques to adapt to a surge in online shopping.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the food manufacturing and distributing industries were tagged as essential services. However, the lack of jobs and the restrictions imposed on many other services led to a 5.3 percent decline in annual food spending in the United States, based on the USDA Economic Research Service.
Top Challenges in Food Science And Technology
The food industry has come a long way over the years, but there are still many challenges that must be addressed. Some of the most common challenges in food technology and science are listed below.
- Energy management: Food science and technology experts have come up with many ways to preserve food for longer, but there is still the issue of energy management. The energy required during all the stages of food manufacturing needs to be reduced significantly without affecting food quality.
- The problem of obesity: It is easy to document the fact that most unhealthy foods are more affordable and accessible than healthier options, leading to equity issues. Making sure everyone has access to healthy food is an important step in everything from improving mental health to the control of diabetes
- Quality over convenience: In a bid to create ready-to-eat meals that offer convenience, the food science and technology industry has come under fire for not providing the best quality. Most times, quick meals or overly processed foods are stripped of their nutrients. They are also full of sodium and sugar.
- Lack of trust: While there has been an increase in obesity, more people are now aware of the dangers of eating the wrong foods. Some smart, healthy alternatives to unhealthy foods have ended up causing food allergies or obesity due to harmful bioactive compounds. Consumer attitudes to food will change if the applications in food research become more reliable.
- Food safety: How safe is the food people eat? Not many people know about the chemicals used in manufacturing and which policies are put in place to check the process. No one knows for sure whether the techniques or chemicals employed by food handlers to improve food supply and production are safe for long-term consumption.
What Are Some Future Trends in Food Science and Technology?
The future trends in food science and technology are in line with the current trends. They will be improved and updated with time until they are perfected or abandoned for newer trends. The top five trends you should consider if you are interested in the industry are listed below.
Application of Omics Techniques
Omics techniques are being used more frequently to identify and control toxicity in the food manufacturing process. Foodomics experts use these scientific practices to promote the health and well-being of consumers. If you learn data analysis, you might find gainful employment in food omics since large amounts of data are included in this process.
Why Is This Trend Important?
The application of omics techniques in food science is an important trend that will help reduce the insertion of potentially toxic chemicals in food. This will help build the trust of consumers by ensuring that the food and drinks they enjoy are free of harmful toxins. Providing food alternatives to the people isn’t successful if the rejection rates among buyers are high due to lack of trust.
Advanced Risk Assessment
As stated above, several foods that used to be known as healthy have been tagged hazardous to health or have negative assessment scores after long-term use. Advanced risk assessment methods are being applied to spot possible biological and non-biological hazards in food ingredients.
Why Is This Trend Important?
With more efficient risk assessment processes in place, consumers will have a clearer picture of the quality, benefits, and risks associated with eating certain foods. This may help to curb several food-related health challenges. You can access articles, conference papers, and critical reviews on the Internet, as well as the online version of scholarly journals on academic websites to learn more.
Advances in Food Engineering
With current technology, there are a variety of trends in food engineering connected to optimizing food production, handling, packaging, storage, and distribution. High-pressure thermal processing, cold plasma, pulsed electric fields, and mega ultrasound in food processing are some of the trending topics in food engineering.
Why Is This Trend Important?
Food engineering processes are vital in the lifecycle of food science and technology. This is why experts are constantly applying new technologies to speed things up. For example, advances in high thermal processing ensure that foods are preserved as ethically as possible while retaining as many nutrients as possible.
Smart Packaging Technologies
Smart packaging isn’t just a trend in the pharmaceutical industry. It has also become popular in food science and technology. It helps to minimize environmental hazards in the food supply chain. Smart packaging was initially just QR codes and barcodes but has now advanced to include other things.
Why Is This Trend Important?
Smart packaging increases consumer trust because it allows them to have quick and easy digital access to all the information about the ingredients used for the food. It also ensures that preserved foods have a longer shelf life and better quality.
Advanced Food Waste Prevention
Even if a significant number of people are living in hunger, there is still a serious food waste problem in the world that needs to be addressed. Advanced food waste prevention needs to be implemented at every stage of production and consumption.
Why Is This Trend Important?
The prevention of food waste is good for the environment. By better controlling this process, food can be given to those who need it. In the restaurant industry, calculating food waste can provide businesses with insights into what customers think about their food. It can also be used to feed homeless people.
Essential Food Science and Technology Skills for Today’s Professionals
If you want to specialize in the discovery of different trends in food science and technology and be involved in potential food industry applications, there are some skills that will help you thrive in your new career. These skills are listed below.
- Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP): What are the best practices for manufacturing high-quality foods and drinks? You need to learn GMP because employers will want to see that on your resume. By mastering good manufacturing practices, you will also be able to lead a team and teach others within a company what to do to reduce hazards.
- Safety: Above everything else, your priority should be ensuring that the foods consumers get are as safe as possible. While you may be unable to control every step of the food supply chain, you need to do your part to make sure that everything at your end is safe short and long-term. You can review articles about food safety to prepare.
- Data science: A data scientist collects raw information that can be used to solve business problems. If you want to dive into research in food science and technology, it is important that you know how to manipulate data to gain useful insights into food function. You can become a data scientist at a coding bootcamp.
- Food preparation: All food scientists learn about food preparation because it is an essential part of the process. However, by food preparation, we do not mean home-cooked recipes. We are talking about the mass production of canned or frozen foods. You need to know how to use food preparation equipment as well as proper food sanitation techniques.
- Quality assurance: As a food scientist, you can work as a quality assurance officer in a food manufacturing company. Quality assurance officers are supervisors who monitor the entire manufacturing and packaging process. The goal is to make sure that all parties involved follow the regulatory guidelines to ensure public safety.
Current Trends in Food Science And Technology: Take the Next Step in Your Career
Food science and technology is a thriving field that comes with several job opportunities. With a degree in food science and technology, you can work as a food scientist, food technologist, and quality assurance officer. You can also find a job as a nutritional expert, technical brewer, or regulatory affairs officer, or even become a registered dietitian.
In any case, you will need to keep up with the trends in food science and technology. A great way to do that is to access commentary articles, read primary journals, or even have a look at the online version of an academic journal and conference reports. You can even find article collections on specific websites such as the Institute of Food Technologists.
The best part about this discipline is that there will always be a demand for food scientists and technologists as long as living things continue to rely on food. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there is currently a nine percent increase in the demand for food science and technology experts in the United States.
Trends in Food Science and Technology FAQ
The five primary sub-disciplines of food science are food engineering, food chemistry, food analysis, food microbiology, and food processing. Combined, these disciplines are geared toward the large-scale production of safe food and beverages.
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Some popular food trends today are vegetarianism, carb alternatives, low-waste diets, mental health diets, vegan alternatives, and elevated desserts. While heavily processed foods are still very popular, people have become more cautious about what they eat. New diets and food trends often have a high acceptance rate, as many people struggle to know what to eat.
Food technologists earn an average of $63,933 yearly, according to ZipRecruiter. Salaries can go as high as $144,500 depending on the level of experience, company, and location. The highest-paying cities for them are Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Sunnyvale.
Food scientists in the United States earn about $74,130 annually, based on ZipRecruiter. Their salaries could go as high as $133,000 in some cities. More experienced food scientists tend to earn more than their less experienced counterparts. Also, academic and industrial-based food scientists have higher wages than everyone else.
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