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Changing Consumer Tastes and the Evolution of Food and Beverage

Consumer tastes are evolving faster than ever before, and food and beverage marketers are racing to stay ahead of the curve. Spurred by the exotic foods they see every day on social media, consumers are becoming more adventurous and seeking bolder flavors that engage multiple senses. Today’s shopper is looking for healthier choices, such as plant-based options, fermented foods, and meat alternatives that are viewed as more sustainable.

Flavors associated with health and wellness, nature, adventure, and nostalgia are popular this year. The buzz around gut health and the microbiome is growing, leading to an increase in products containing probiotics like kombucha. Ingredients believed to promote overall good health, such as turmeric, ginger, goji berries, and ginseng, are also on the rise. Consumers are keenly focused on the origins of their food, with many willing to pay more for products with proven sustainability claims.

Innovations in Food Manufacturing

Brands are searching for ways to make food and beverages more visually appealing and to use more whole, natural ingredients. Often, this involves altering a tried-and-true process or introducing new technology to achieve the desired result.

Dinner “Jetsons Style” – Thanks to 3D Printing

We know that scientists can now print heart valves and human limbs, but a new frontier in 3D printing is just beginning to emerge: food. Technology now makes it possible for machines to print, cook, and serve foods on a mass scale. Even pastry chefs are using 3D printers to add a whole new level of inspiration to their creations. Scientists are pushing the limits even further by developing 3D food printers that could revolutionize nutrition.

Engineers predict that future 3D printers will deliver exact dosages of drugs, vitamins, and supplements in foods customized to the specific caloric needs of an individual. The technology could even allow customization at a macro-nutritional level, enabling users to tailor the amounts of calcium, protein, omega-3, and carbohydrates to their specific dietary requirements. Could 3D printing of food be the missing link between nutrition and personalized medicine?

Supermarkets of the future could stock “food capsules” rather than today’s perishable whole ingredients. These capsules would last years, free up shelf space, and drastically reduce transportation and storage requirements. However, this raises questions about how the current food manufacturing and distribution model would need to change to adapt to these trends.

The Importance of Nitrogen in Drinks

For years, manufacturers have been sparging nitrogen into their products to maintain food quality during transport and to extend shelf life. In packaged foods, nitrogen displaces oxygen, locking out moisture and bacteria, which rely on oxygen for growth. Nitrogen is also widely used to uphold the quality of fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, seafood, and meat.

Nitrogen in Beverages

Winemakers have long employed nitrogen gas sparging to remove volatile contaminants and improve the wine’s taste and shelf life. Sparging tiny nitrogen bubbles into wine has been a critical process step for many years. Today, nitrogen is finding its way into all types of beverages, including fruit juices, protein waters, coffee, tea, and beer. Brands are also experimenting with nitrogen-infused milks, including chocolate-flavored milks. These smooth, creamy beverages can also be rich in antioxidants and low in acidity.

Nitrogen-infused beers, for example, have a smoother, creamier taste thanks to the tiny bubbles nitrogen creates. Beyond just taste, there are differences in appearance and smell as well. Imagine if the wrong amount of gas or incorrect size bubbles were infused into your drinks? It could easily result in a beverage that’s bitter and far from smooth and silky. Mott knows spargers. In fact, you may not realize it, but chances are, your beer, shrimp, and cereal were infused with gases delivered by a Mott sparger.

Addressing Future Food Production Challenges

The global population is expected to grow to an estimated 9.6 billion people by 2050. Analysts project that global food production will need to increase by 70% in developed countries and 100% in developing countries to feed these populations. While agriculture has come a long way in the past century, modern food production methods will need a radical transformation to keep up.

One option becoming widely adopted is vertical farming, a practice that produces food in vertically stacked layers, such as in a skyscraper or a warehouse, where the environment can be meticulously controlled. Vertical farms make year-round cultivation of food possible for a variety of crops, using 70-80% less water than conventional farming. They also overcome yearly weather patterns, changing climates, and issues with land availability and quality. However, the energy required for artificial lighting and climate control remains a challenge.

Experts are also exploring methods to grow crops in naturally lit environments, such as raised beds in communal gardens and rooftop aquaponic systems that grow food with the help of fish.

Delivering Solutions for Start-ups and Established Brands Alike

For decades, Mott has been working side-by-side with innovative engineering teams searching for ways to make food and beverage production more efficient. Our state-of-the-art sintered spargers introduce nitrogen, air, or CO2 into liquids through thousands of tiny pores, creating bubbles far smaller and more numerous than with drilled pipe or other sparging methods. This reduces energy expenses and ensures consistent results time after time.

Our unique wicking solutions function in vertical farming environments, and our custom, 3D-printed filter and flow control devices are used in the most challenging food processing applications. Whether you need energy storage solutions because you’re converting your automated equipment from fossil fuels to more sustainable power sources, or you’re exploring enhanced robotic farming solutions like crop-spraying drones, we’re here to help.

Mott’s engineers won’t only help you ensure your champagne maintains its bubbles. If you’re struggling with a challenge that is mission-critical and you can’t afford for anything to go wrong, our engineers are eager to work with you to customize a solution. Contact us today.