Food sector startups are coming up with new solutions to enable all of us to eat according to his/her needs. The underlying idea is to ensure that people in industrialised countries obtain a balanced diet.
First we saw startups in the food sector offering express delivery services. Now food tech companies are looking to enable their customers to tailor food products to their own requirements. Startup YourBite for instance is planning to launch a system whereby a customer can design his/her own energy bar online by choosing the ingredients, indicating any allergies and specifying the nutritional values required, and will then have the nutrition bars delivered to his/her home. This product is not yet on sale, but is a clear illustration of the current trend towards people wanting to have a clear understanding, and be in full control, of what they eat.
With this in mind, Israeli startup Consumer Physics has developed SCiO, a pocket molecular sensor designed to count the calories and assess the nutritional value of what you are eating. In similar vein, San Francisco-based 6sensorlabs is working to develop a sort of ‘quantified food’ device that identifies the ingredients of every meal so that users can strive for a more balanced diet, avoiding any allergy-related problems. Balanced eating for all appears to be the goal of a number of food tech startups.
Personalised, balanced eating
Once you have the nutritional information you need about your current diet, you then have to fill any gaps. There is a range of products on offer that provide a general remedy for a deficiency in vitamins, iron, magnesium and other nutrients and trace elements. The latest arrival on the scene is Nossa!, which is planning to market a fruit that is currently unknown in Europe – the berry from the açaí palm tree – which has just started to be harvested from the depths of the Amazonian forest.
Gluten-free and rich in antioxidants, fibre and Omega 6 and 9, this drink promises many benefits. However, Nossa! is far from being the only company to launch on the market with the idea of providing people in industrialised countries with new products aimed at creating a more balanced diet.
Loss of nutrients: a problem to solve
Food tech startups are focusing particularly on western countries. Czech firm Mana recently launched a drink designed to compensate for the modern loss of nutrients from fruit and vegetables in Europe. Several studies have pointed to this issue, including a report entitled ‘Still No Free Lunch’ published in 2007, which warned that nutrient levels in foodstuffs sold in the United States were being eroded due to the agrifood industry’s pursuit of higher crop yields. For instance, it would take 26 of today’s peaches to obtain a nutrient value equivalent to a single peach on sale in 1950!
Hence the idea of the Mana drink. Mana, a concentrate of fibre, protein, minerals, et al, comes in the form of a powder which you mix with water and drink every day to help ensure a perfectly balanced diet. New York City startup Training Meals, with its specially designed meals for sportspeople, has a similar goal, while Washington DC-based True Made Foods, whose name speaks for itself, is on a similar mission. With its stated aim of selling ‘true food’, this company produces a range of sauces made of nutrient-rich bio ingredients. ‟We’re trying to fundamentally change the way we eat, without fads or trends,” explains co-founder Abraham Kamarck.