Looking Into 2024 Trends: Food Tech Outlook

Can technology truly revolutionize the way we feed the world? Facing one of our biggest challenges — to provide food security to an ever-growing population— the quest for sustainable, efficient, and nutritious food solutions has never been more critical. Food Tech innovation is changing not just the game—it’s on the verge of redefining it entirely. 

Exciting advances in food technology are delivering transformative change, and accelerators like ICL Planet Startup Hub are at the forefront, we’re not just witnessing a transformation; we’re participating in a revolution primed to secure food security for generations to come. Dive into the 2024 outlook where cutting-edge advancements in food technology promise to meet the challenge head-on, delivering solutions that were once thought to be the stuff of science fiction.

Important Innovations in Food Tech

Food technology is as old as agriculture itself. Early farmers mastered selective breeding, fertilization, irrigation, pest control, and food preservation. Our survival to this day is a testament to their innovative spirit, technological aptitude, and relentless curiosity that secured our ancestors’ existence. In 2024, the thirst for innovation is unchanged, but food technology researchers have tools that would astound the scientists who pioneered the 20th-century agricultural revolution – never mind their distant forebears!

21st-century Innovations in food tech are moving at a lightning pace as the new technological revolution unfolds. Food tech trends in 2024 are driven by the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as consumer demand for increased sustainability across the entire food chain, improved nutritional value in food products, and efficiency-related cost reductions.

Innovation accelerators like ICL Planet Startup Hub are nurturing vital Food Tech startups and significantly increasing their potential for success and growth. The integration of new technologies into Food Tech research and development not only reduces the time to market for new products but also slashes research costs. Furthermore, access to big data is widening the scale and scope of R&D, with advanced analytical tools being key in transforming this data into actionable insights that fuel innovation and data-informed decision-making.

Food technology and AgTech traditionally lagged behind other industrial sectors, but that’s changing fast. AgTech and Food Tech startups are attracting some of the finest scientific minds and a new generation of idealistic entrepreneurs. ICL Planet Startup Hub is building strategic partnerships with the best and brightest researchers and founders and enabling them with investment, resources, and mentorship, as well as access to ICL’s massive network of international contacts. 

Major Food Tech Trends in 2024

These current and upcoming Food Tech trends are transforming food production capabilities and opening exciting – and potentially profitable – new markets for food producers, and Food Tech companies. 

Trend #1: Artificial Intelligence Revolutionizing Food Tech

Artificial intelligence (AI) is unleashing change at an unprecedented rate. The transformative impact of AI across the entire food supply chain, from predictive analytics in agriculture to AI-enhanced food processing and distribution is enormous. 

The transformative power of AI begins with research and development. Algorithms can extrapolate key information from a mass of big data and can factor in consumer preference data (including genetic, health, and lifestyle info), and market predictions to create competitive new products. 

AI technology is infiltrating many areas in the agrifood system. It can also optimize and streamline production lines in conjunction with advanced sensors, cameras, robotics, and other IoT innovations. The goal is to produce cheaper, healthier, safer, and aesthetically pleasing food. 

Protera

Our portfolio company Protera is an AI platform that accelerates the discovery of novel solutions in Food Tech to design novel functional protein-based ingredients for food.

Protera’s unique AI-driven platform, MADI™ allows users to identify new natural proteins and design nutritional enzymes. The groundbreaking technology seeks to address the challenges of future food security by enabling the development of healthy and nutritionally dense proteins for human and animal consumption. The potential for sustainable and low-impact manufacturing is considerable.

Trend #2: Diversifying Protein Sources with Advanced Food Technology

Protein is a key requirement for a balanced diet, particularly in childhood. Essential amino acids are the building blocks of muscles and are vital for maintaining health. An estimated one billion people worldwide suffer from protein deficiency. Western consumers currently gain most of their daily protein requirements from animal-based food products like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Public demand for healthier, kinder, and more sustainable alternatives is driving the development of plant-based proteins, cellular agriculture, and innovative fermentation processes.

One of the upcoming Food Tech trends to watch for is corporate investment in alternative protein manufacture in urban settings and industrial parks. Just as we have breweries producing beer, we may see fermentation plants producing dietary protein, as well as massive units – essentially smart factories – for growing protein-dense plants. The pace of development will depend on consumer appetite for plant-based meat substitutes, hybrid meats, and new vegetable products. 

Plantible Foods

Plantible Foods is a B2B Food Tech company that is developing Lemna-derived proteins. Lemna is a protein-rich aquatic plant that can be easily grown and harvested in a variety of environments, including urban farms and smart factory farms. Lemna is a highly functional and adaptable plant that can make a major contribution to our annual protein requirements. Plantible Foods is emerging as a tech leader in the protein sector. 

Trend #3: Circular Economy and Carbon Utilization Technologies

One defining feature of the food sector, from first planting in the fields through to retail and consumption, is the high level of wastage. Up to 40% of food is wasted annually in the US alone. One of the most inspiring Food Tech trends is the shift towards circular economies that identify and eliminate wasteful and unsustainable practices. Well-designed circular economies not only reduce wastage and increase resource efficiency but also make it profitable to do so! 

The Food Industry is addressing wastage issues by upcycling food waste into valuable products. There is also a huge market for new biodegradable packaging materials that minimize negative environmental impacts. 

Carbon utilization has the potential to create positive environmental Impacts by enabling a more sustainable lifecycle for captured carbon, providing lower environmental risks in addition to social rewards. Food Tech companies such as Arkeon with its proprietary technology for the direct conversion of carbon dioxide into protein ingredients are a great example of food techs emerging into the carbon utilization sector

As smart farming advances and demand for products like alternative proteins grows, major producers will be taking a hard look at the supply chain. Upcoming Food Tech trends are likely to include increasingly localized food production that substantially reduces carbon footprints and avoidable strain on road, rail, and port infrastructures

Trend #4: Personalized Nutrition and Digital Health Integration

There is a huge consumer demand for personalized nutrition and tailored diet plans that are based on new scientific understanding. Companies that can leverage biotechnology and digital platforms to create individual profiles and plans will be able to access a growth market. 

Apart from individual consumers, healthcare providers, and insurers – and even some employers – are keen to explore technologies that can promote (individually optimized) healthy eating and possibly reduce the cost to the economy of illness and premature death. 

Innovation accelerators, such as ICL’s Planet Startup Hub, play a key role in enabling founders to bridge the gap between nutritional science, advancements in DNA analysis, microbiology, and their application in creating viable consumer applications. One of the challenges is to bring profitable personal nutrition and digital health products to market in a timely fashion (and to implement comprehensive cyber security when so much personal health data is at risk). Accelerators can help startups to turn a groundbreaking concept into a marketable product.

Shaping a Resilient and Sustainable Food Future

New Food Tech trends like generative and predictive AI, nutrition-dense alternative proteins, advances in soil health management, data-driven personal nutrition plans and a transition to circular economies are creating significant market gaps and new opportunities for food technology entrepreneurs. 

The market spectrum is immense, with requirements for biodegradable packaging and recycling solutions, new algorithms for big data, more sustainable alternatives to traditional proteins, and literally thousands of other products and technologies. Startup accelerators have a crucial role in transforming and fast-tracking the journey of cutting-edge innovations in Food Tech into live products, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable and efficient global food system.

The ICL Planet Startup Hub understands the urgent need to guarantee food security and help end world hunger forever. The Hub is actively fostering a community of innovators and creating a global network of talented researchers and entrepreneurs who are committed to the same basic goals – and who are passionate about new technology and problem-solving. 

The objective is a simple one, to channel talent and initiative into creating a sustainable agricultural system that reliably feeds more than 10 billion with nutritious and affordable food.

If you’re a Food Tech innovator, and you want to set new food tech trends – rather than just follow them – ICL Planet Startup Hub wants to hear your ideas. Talk to us now!

This post was written in cooperation with 
Hadar Sutovsky, ICL VP of Corporate Investments & General Manager of ICL Planet  
Hadar combines extensive expertise in startup investments, venture capital, incubation, innovation, and global business development across international sectors, with a focus on Climate, Sustainable Agriculture, and Foodtech. Prior to ICL, Hadar served as a Managing Partner at Aquagro Fund, a dedicated impact investment management firm.  Along her professional path, Hadar led Innovation and investments in areas of AgriFood & Sustainability for the Global Unilever Open Innovation Hub in TLV and Frutarom. Hadar holds an MBA in Strategy and Innovation and MSc in Molecular Microbiology & Biotechnology from Tel Aviv University.  Beyond her professional endeavors, she generously volunteers as a certified Yoga teacher to contribute to the community. Hadar is married and resides in Tel Aviv. For more info follow Hadar on LinkedIn and ICL Planet website.