Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend BonAppetech #GoodFoodInnovation conference held at the Innovation Hanger space right by the Palace of Arts (San Francisco). I only was able to attend the mini expo and new idea pitches but that was enough to give me a sense of who the up and coming superstars are in the food “space”!
I should probably clarify for myself and for those reading this blog that Food Tech does not mean what a food scientist thinks it means. For people like me (food scientists) Food Tech means “Food Technology” which means chemistry, microbiology, product development, and so on. But in the bay area “tech” has a whole other definition. Food Tech can be anything in the “food space” and that includes recipe apps, virtual food hubs, a new line of mercury-tested tuna fish , or an “app” that allows businesses to donate their unused food to local shelters and get a tax break.
Its always a bit surreal for me to walk through these events feeling like I am just on the outer fringe of what these innovators are doing. The were very few finished food products (a few energy bars and some concentrated water flavors) and the ones I did see were not particularly impressive but I learned that its not about the product, but the ideas behind it- the product is just a tool to push the concepts forward.
What WAS impressive were the forward thinkers who presented their ideas to the audience, like Edibags-a company that makes edible forks out of pressed sorghum and Hopsey, a company that delivers affordable gourmet beer to your house. I got to eat some chocolate pudding with these edible spoons- they are VERY durable and are being designed for food service.
“Food Tech” is not about food science technology but about new ideas and innovations that are being executed by young start up companies that will help transform the way we eat, create and interact with our farms. These ideas are still in early stages and eventually the food tech start ups will probably need a “food technologist” to help them expand their ideas into a reality. I hope to be a part of that next phase!
If you live in the bay area, check out the meet up groups called “food tech”. I joined them because I thought they would be food science groups (but I forgot that MOST food scientists are locked up in big food companies and don’t go to sharing meet up group type events-) so instead of finding fellow food scientists, I found other food people in a space that is pushing ideas and concepts to change the way we eat!