Why food innovation? Is not it good what I eat every day?

When I say that despite being a innovation management specialist and being able to approach any subject, I maintain a blog to speak only about food innovation, many are astonished: “What is food innovation? Is it a new diet to lose weight? Are you a chef that cooks different foods?” I explain why I chose this topic because I am a food scientist and the doubt goes on: “So you create Frankenstein-type green food in the laboratory, deal with transgenics?”

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Few people know that although we consume little food variety – 60% of current human caloric intake comes from 4 plant species: wheat, rice, potatoes and corn, the world is much larger than our backyard and food innovation is more urgent than we would like it to be.

Solving eating problems involves thinking not only of what we eat but also of who eats or not. Did you know that 108 million people are starving in the world? Meanwhile a third of global agricultural production is going to waste.

Ertharin Cousin, Director of the United Nations Food Program says “Hunger exacerbates crises, provoking more instability and insecurity. What today looks like a food security challenge will tomorrow become a security-related challenge. ”

The consumer today is more demanding than ever. Yes, there was never such a competition. The secret weapon to survive and thrive? Innovation. But you already knew that, right?

Nowadays, everyone seems to have a great idea for an application or a new product. Smart ideas are great, but innovation lies in solving problems. So what you really need is a problem to be solved. According to Eric Ries of the book Lean Startup, success is learning how to solve the customer problem. We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.

Working with innovation and applying trends is anticipating the future, understanding the needs of the customer, and what he does not even know he has yet. It is to prepare companies to stay relevant for years or even decades, is helping to prepare a generation of entrepreneurs that will feed the more than 9 billion people who will live on this planet by the year 2050.

Blockchain, 3D printer, biological fabric, robotics … in just over a year writing for i9 magazine about innovation and trends I could not help but address food several times. Food is one of the greatest means of transmitting the culture of a nation, it is part of our identity and the encounter of the past with the present. And it is also one of the doors to the future.

India has already owned 30,000 varieties of rice and today has only 10. It is a risk to our health and drastically reduces the opportunities for innovation in food. The Portuguese seed bank has only 60% of its native species protected, while Brazil has the shameful amount of 1% of its assured biodiversity.

How many new products could we create from the thousands of endangered species every year? How can we feed without compromising the next generations? How can technology help us in this?

No doubt we have many problems to solve in the food area. That is why I believe so much that here lies an immense source of opportunities. To summarize, I leave a phrase quoted by William Gibson: “The future is already here – it just is not evenly distributed.” Are you the innovator who will get ahead? I’m here to clear the way and walk with you!

Natasha Pádua

Innovation Specialist



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