IndusFresh Details

By TPCI | November 6, 2019

From ice age to the age of industrial revolution to a world dominated by automation, digitization and artificial intelligence, technology & innovation have been an essential party of humanity’s evolution since time immemorial. As a result, there is hardly any facet of life, which has been left untouched by the impact of technology. This is true even of the food and beverage sector.

One such technology that is now metamorphosing the landscape of the global food industry is 3D food printing. It entails preparing a meal in an automated additive manner. The global 3D printing industry is expected to grow from US$ 3.07 billion in revenue in 2013 to US$ 21 billion in worldwide revenue by 2020. Recently, researchers from the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT), Thanjavur, have also managed to make a mark in the space. The scientists used it to print a nutritious snack using millets, green gram, fried gram and ajwain seeds.

What makes this technology interesting is that it can be used to customise food according to the individuals’ nutritional requirements. The printer to implement this process has also been developed and fabricated indigenously. While printing takes only about 7-8 minutes, the rest of the process involves microwave drying the products. Before printing, however, all the raw materials have to be hot-air dried, ground to fine particles and sieved to about 0.2 mm. To this amalgam, a host of spices like salt, spices and distilled water are added.

While this technology may not be the ideal solution for problems like increasing production of food, it does have its own share of advantages. For instance, it can revolutionise everything from texture to shape and artistic vision in the culinary world. It also offers many possibilities to make the consumption of products like meat more sustainable and space travel more convenient by introducing new ways of preparing a meal in space.

However, only time will tell if it manages to stand the tests of reliability, speed, cost and most importantly, food safety. 3D printing of food takes time, which renders it quite impractical at present for the food service industry. Moreover, great care has to be taken to ensure cleanliness and hygiene. There are also limitations to the final texture achieved, and quality printers are not exactly cheap with a price range between US$ 1,000-5,000. 

Albeit this technology is relatively novel and still in its nascent stages of development, there are a few companies in India that are already embracing it. For instance, Chocobot, an extension of 3D Print World Pvt Ltd, is India's first commercially available fully functional food 3D printer. It can be used for creating customized 3D outputs in various edible products like chocolate, jam, cheese etc.

To sum up, the future of food industry is an exciting one with innovation not only in terms of novel recipes and lesser-used ingredients but also in terms of digital technologies. So, get ready to brace yourselves for an enriching gastronomic experience and some really cool things to relish.