Today, technology has transformed our lives in various ways, from how we communicate via our mobile phone to how we shop (also via mobile phone most times). There is hardly anything that the digital revolution has not affected.
But what if I told you that the next big thing in the world of technology is about to disrupt the way we eat? I am talking about the rise of digital automation, which completely changes how we consume foods today.
What Is Digital Automation?
It is the automation of a process that was previously done manually, such as using an app to order your groceries online or requesting your car maintenance from a website instead of calling for service yourself.
We can also view it as the complex interaction and use of automation technologies in manufacturing and production processes to reduce costs and increase efficiency or as a computer program designed to perform tasks automatically without human intervention.
How Has Automation Changed the World?
Automation has had a profound impact on society. It has enabled us to live longer, healthier lives. It has also made our jobs easier and allowed us to work less. It has even helped us to make better decisions much faster than before.Today, technology has transformed our lives in various ways, from how we communicate via our mobile phone to how we shop. Click To Tweet
The rapid proliferation of digital technology has enabled people to create and distribute new products, services, and business models to prosper immensely. It has led to economic growth for many countries across the globe. But it has also created additional problems.
For example, how do we know whether these automated systems are safe? How will they affect people who have lost their job because of automation? And: What happens when machines take over all aspects of life?
I want to discuss today if digital automation will also change the way we consume food.
The Future of Food
Today, much of the global population still relies on farming methods used thousands of years ago. This means that many farmers around the globe rely heavily on manual labour instead of digital technologies, advanced technologies or precision-farming technologies to produce food for everyone.Let us not forget that food startups also use automated technology to create food products that could create new jobs. Click To Tweet
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the world population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050. To feed that number of people, global food production will need to grow by 70%. For Africa, which is projected to be home to about 2 billion people by then, farm productivity must accelerate faster than the global average to avoid continued mass hunger. The food challenges in Africa are multipronged: The population is growing, but weather changes, shorter fallow periods, and rural-urban migration that deprives farming communities of young people exacerbate low farm productivity and threatens it. In Northern Nigeria, herders are moving south looking for pasture as their ancestral lands face severe deforestation. The Shebelle River, which supports many farmers, is drying up in Somalia, causing additional pains in the war-torn country. The combination of higher food demand, stunted yield potential, and increasingly worse farmland must stimulate a redesigned agro-sector for assured food security. Agriculture accounts for over 30% of the continent’s GDP and employs over 60% of its working population. For decades, African governments have used many policy instruments to improve farm productivity. But most farmers are still only marginally improving yields. Some continue to use traditional processes that depend heavily on historical norms or use tools like hoes and cutlasses that have not evolved for centuries. In some Igbo communities in Nigeria, it’s common for farmers to plant according to the moon’s phases and attribute variability in their harvests to gods rather than to their methods. (fao.org)
Does automation only disrupt the workforce of past decades, or will automated processes also change how we consume food today? Digitisation affects every industry, but there are some industries more than others. Food production is one of them. Is it essential to think about automating food production for the future?What happens when machines take over all aspects of life? Click To Tweet
How Does Technology Affect the Food Industry?
There is no doubt that the food and beverage industry is one of the most important industries in terms of economic value. It contributes a significant amount to many nations GDP. And it employs several million people worldwide. This means that the impact on society as well as employment opportunities are enormous.
The food packaging industry has also found immense success from the use of robots and automation. As per estimates, robots produce approximately 95% of packages. The food processing technology is currently valued at over US$32 billion.
Automation is now necessary for the food industry to address the required levels of quality control, production speed, labour shortages and overall profitability. Looking into the future, expect to see more automation on the food processing factory floor.
How Is Automation Useful in the Food Industry?
Using robots and artificial intelligence is already being used across various industries, including manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, education, finance, etc. But it seems like they have not yet reached their full potential for the food sector.
Innovations in seeds, fertilisers and crop protection have multiple benefits. For example, gene editing presents new opportunities for the way crops are produced and improved–it has the potential to boost yields, increase disease resistance, improve taste and nutritional value, and tackle allergens. Unlike genetic modification, gene editing is based on a natural process. (nature.com)The combination of higher food demand, stunted yield potential, and increasingly worse farmland must stimulate a redesigned agro-sector for assured food security. Click To Tweet
However, any technology that interferes with nature is not entirely immune from unintended consequences, and gene editing has raised environmental, human health and ethical concerns. Some researchers claim that new genetic-engineering techniques such as CRISPR could cause “genetic havoc” As a result, some experts have argued that gene editing in the US has escaped necessary regulation. The EU’s high court ruled that the authorities should regulate gene-edited plants the same way as GMOs were in 2018, confusing many plant scientists. But the EU’s new Farm to Fork Strategy acknowledges that new biotechnologies may play a role in increasing sustainability and states that, in response to requests from member states, the Commission will look into the benefits of new genomic techniques. (nature.com)
Many experts believe we will automate most of the jobs currently performed by humans away soon. And this includes those who work as farmers or chefs.
Will Food Service Be the next to Get Automated?
The future of food will see a shift from manual labour and human intervention towards more intelligent machines. This means that instead of manually preparing meals for customers, restaurants can now automate this process using advanced technology and software-based solutions.
This trend could have far-reaching implications on how people choose their food options and served at home or while dining out. There will be less food waste than the current waste produced by foodservice businesses, especially in developed countries.
What Does It Mean for Consumers?
It means a lot more convenience and less time spent on grocery shopping. It will be easier than ever before to find exactly what your family needs. And it will make sure that no one goes hungry!The future of food will see a shift from manual labour and human intervention towards more intelligent machines. Click To Tweet
The future of food consumption looks bright with the help of artificial intelligence. But how can this new wave of technological innovation benefit us as individuals and society? Let me explain:
- AI-powered robots are already making life simpler. They can perform repetitive tasks much faster than humans. These include cleaning homes, taking care of pets, delivering groceries, cooking dinner, etc.
- Besides performing simple tasks, they can learn and adapt to different situations.
- Using robotics in the food and food packing industries is increasing.
- As incomes rise across the African continent, growing consumer demand for food and beverages will coincide with business-to-business growth in agro-processing. (brookings.edu)
What Is the “Internet of Things” And Will It Also Apply to Our Food?
There has been an increase in demand for automated kitchens due to the popularity of online ordering services. Restaurants are looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs. One solution would be to replace human chefs with robotic ones.
As mentioned earlier, many manufacturers are developing robots and other autonomous vehicles. Once fully functional, they will eliminate drivers and additional human labour in the farms and plantations.
Digital automation will not only automate cooking but also change the way we consume food. Food retail as we know it will end as a ‘majority of consumers turn more to digital automation and meet their needs on demand, off-premise. Many people will stop worrying about eating healthy because the convenience of on-demand healthy food will surpass the cost and effort you take to go to a supermarket to get your vegetables.Using robotics in the food and food packing industries is increasing. Click To Tweet
In developed countries, food companies are automating and using digital processes, which we could consider a bad thing because workers supporting digital infrastructure will need specialised ICT skills, such as coding and cybersecurity. In contrast, all workers will need generic ICT skills to operate digital technologies across the food sector. But let us not forget that food startups also use automated technology to create food products that could create new jobs.
It has not yet happened in sub-Saharan Africa the way it exists in Europe and the USA, but it will happen. The question is how you want this automation to take place for society to have a favourable view.
Will digital automation also change the way we consume food today? Yes, if you are looking at the rise of on-demand food services like Zomato and UberEats. These platforms offer convenience to customers with their minimum order size, competitive pricing and doorstep delivery.
What are the ways to keep the customer happy and satisfied with automated technology? Will digital automation change the way we consume food today?
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