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Food safety and nutrition key topics at this year’s TechInnovation

· TechInnovation

Asia is slated as the next hotspot for the food industry – half the world’s population will reside in Asia, playing host to two-thirds of the world’s middle class. With rising wealth comes more awareness over diets. Asian consumers will prefer food that is not only healthy but is safe and as fresh as possible.

However, that doesn’t mean consumers will pay for overpriced options. And as they join the workforce, convenience matters too. Most importantly, it must taste good or they won’t go back for seconds.

Such trends are driving business opportunities within the food science and innovation space. Food manufacturers want to cater to more sophisticated tastes, in the face of growing challenges in the food supply infrastructure, such as climate change.

TechInnovation 2018 will address these concerns with a line-up of four distinguished speakers, representing the leaders of the food industry. The technology-brokerage event will be held at Marina Bay Sands from 18 to 19 of September, with the food innovation track returning this year.

Innovating for the Asian consumer

Roquette is looking to collaborate with like-minded partners to create solutions that cater to the distinct tastes and specific health and nutrition needs of Asian consumers. The company manufactures plant-based ingredients derived from corn, wheat and peas. Rod Quin, Vice President, Global Business Unit of Food at the France-headquartered Roquette, is one of the speakers at the event’s Food Innovation track.

He will highlight Roquette’s efforts to create more plant-based protein options, as the demand for alternatives to animal-based protein grows. “Plant-based ingredients across the region are growing rapidly as people realise the preventative health and wellness benefits of plants,” he said.

Dietary fiber-enriched foods, said Quin, is the next big thing to hit the food industry. “The next major trend we see is the less publicised benefits of dietary fibre which comes from plants. Enhancing everyday foods and beverages with fibre is also a health-promoting option for brand owners,” he added.

“Roquette is well-positioned to address to both challenges through its plant-based ingredients amassed over 80 years (i.e. its NUTRALYS™ pea protein, NUTRIOSE™ soluble fibre) and its research in Food, Nutrition and Health sectors,” remarked Quin.

Improving efficiency in the beverage sector

Alexandre Nicolau, Open Innovation Manager at Japanese beverage giant Suntory, will also be presenting at the event. He is seeking collaborations with partners to meet future trends in the beverage sector, such as functionality in health, transparency in the supply chain, freshness in ingredients and environmental sustainability.

“Suntory has the world’s lightest two-litre water bottle, weighing less than 30 grams. This is certainly a great performance, but it does not stop there as the company never stops looking for improvements,” said Nicolau. The best examples for functionality in health include fat burning beverages, or drinks that prevent fat absorption, he added.

Deep technology in food innovation

Serial entrepreneur and co-founder of blockchain firm Anquan Capital Max Kantelia will highlight how blockchain can boost food safety in the supply chain.

Blockchain helps to track goods along a supply chain, as well as share important documents among multiple parties while ensuring the documents’ privacy and authenticity, and ensuring provenance of goods, said Kantelia.

“We have been architecting supply chain tracking with a major producer of a high-end food product, where their margins are eroded significantly because five times the intended amount of original produce end up on the market. Food fraud is a major challenge!” he noted.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing a big part in food quality assessment. AgShift, a Silicon Valley based food technology start up, has built world’s most advanced AI based food inspection system – which makes food quality assessment more objective, consistent and autonomous across the supply chain.

“We focus on empowering quality inspectors in food industry with the ability to provide fast and consistent food quality assessment that for decades has been inaccurate - with ad-hoc processes and cumbersome paperwork,” said Miku Jha, founder and CEO of AgShift.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted. And one in nine people in the world do not have enough food, said Jha. “Reducing food waste presents an enormous opportunity for tackling food insecurity,” she added.

“Significant amount of food is wasted due to rejections caused by quality mismatch, which in turn is caused by inconsistent inspections,” said Jha. “And the inconsistencies in interpretation of food quality across the supply chain is pretty high,” she noted.

AgShift’s patented AI-based food quality analyser offers a completely unbiased and objective quality inspectionfor selected commodities, protecting the quality, sourcing, pricing and brand - every single time. Additionally, the integrated system delivers operational efficiencies, reducing the overall inspection time. Consistent and Objective quality assessments significantly reduce the food waste across the supply chain with a much better digital transparency and source of truth.

“We are looking to work with organisations in food supply chain on projects related to food quality assessment. We are specifically looking for projects in these three categories of food: fresh berries, edible nuts and seafood,” said Jha.

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