Industry 4.0 in food

The application of technology to any industrial sector is crucial for its future. If we refer to consumer goods, the ability to evolve in the sectors affected is, if necessary, more important. The existence of a hyperconnected consumer, increasingly demanding and informed, makes any product should have all the possible innovation.

One of the sectors with the highest consumption is the food industry, which is facing the challenge of getting on the wave of Industry 4.0 in order to meet consumer demand for quality. The food industry has put technology at the service of its products, and now we can observe substantial changes for the benefit of the consumer or the environment, among others.

R & D FOR BETTER FOOD QUALITY

Research has been one of the most developed factors in the food sector in recent years. This has been influenced by factors such as the European regulations on this matter, such as the EC Regulation 1924/2006, according to which it is necessary to prove the health benefits of functional foods through scientific and technical evidence.

Another determining factor has been the consumer himself, increasingly concerned about their health, the good food and to buy products that, in turn, are respectful of the environment. Therefore, companies in the agri-food sector are committed to research to offer better quality products. In this sense, studies of bioavailability, gastrointestinal resistance or interaction with the colon microbiota of nutrients are carried out, which allow observing the effect of a product, food or ingredient in digestion or intestinal absorption. Also other techniques such as cell cultures allow to have scientific evidence about the absorption and transport of nutrients from the organism.

An example of the application of technology to the quality of products and the effect on our health is found in Ordesa , a manufacturer of children’s nutrition products. In his case, his alliance with the technological center Ainia has allowed him to validate the effect of the new prebiotic products throughout the gastrointestinal system.

In the meat sector, the Spanish company Cárnicas Miguel Vergara used technology in the search for a healthy hamburger . The result has been a product in which 85% of the animal fat has been eliminated to replace it with aloe vera. The SME, which has already received the I National Award for SME Startup 2014, has made a great bet on R & D and continues to launch products that work in the market thanks to its high level of health, such as cheese and yogurts with aloe You will see, or working in a bioconservative that will replace chemical stabilizers that are used as preservatives in prepared foods.

THE EVOLUTION OF FOOD FACTORIES

Technological innovation also has a determining role in the factories, where the production and base of any food is made in the market. In terms of quality, the treatment of raw materials evolves towards a concept of more natural food, one of the demands of consumers that will grow in the coming years.

Thus, we find innovations such as microencapsulation, a technological procedure that protects sensitive active substances and principles against external agents. To achieve this, a micro-pack is used that performs a barrier effect and prevents deterioration of the food due to temperature, light, oxygen, humidity or pH. The result, a product that reaches our homes with a higher quality and conservation and, therefore, with better sensory, nutritional and functional characteristics.

The Grenadian company DOMCA , for example, has opted for the microencapsulation of garlic extract to naturally increase the preservation of sauces. The result has been a concentration of more than 20% of the active principles of garlic in the microencapsulation.

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