Food and cooking are serious traditions in cultures throughout the world, but the truth is, what we eat is undergoing a major technological revolution. Technology is transforming the food we consume, the way it is produced, its environmental impact, and its applications for our health and wellbeing – and Israeli entrepreneurs are helping lead this growing trend in innovation, finding novel and exciting ways to feed the growing global population in an environmentally sustainable way.
Israel’s place at the FoodTech table is vividly demonstrated at The Kitchen, a FoodTech incubator launched in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod in 2015. Investing in three to four highly promising startups per year, The Kitchen cultivates innovators who seek to tackle the biggest challenges in the food industry – including boosting nutritional value, combating foodborne illnesses, addressing the high carbon footprint of many protein–based foods, and integrating robotics and deep learning to bring greater efficiency to food production processes.
A partnership of the Israel Innovation Authority and the Strauss Group, The Kitchen has supported companies including Flying SpArk, which harnesses fruit fly larvae to grow highly nutritious, flavorful, and environmentally–friendly proteins, including beef and poultry substitutes; and BactuSense, whose unique technology utilizes a microchip and an optical sensor to detect pathogens in food.
Here are a few other Israeli companies cooking up new ideas with technology:
· Algatech extracts a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin from microscopic algae for use in dietary supplements, cosmeceuticals, and food products.
· MediWound extracts enzymes from pineapple stems to make products used to treat burns and chronic wounds.
· Ripples developed a product that embeds nearly any image or text into the foam layer of a coffee, decorating your cup o’ Joe with dazzling pictures.
· Hargol FoodTech grows several grasshopper species to harness their high protein content to manufacture protein powder.
· ChickP developed a production process for using the whole chickpea seed to generate large amounts of protein powder to fortify everyday foods.
· WeissBeerger developed a beverage analytics platform for breweries to analyze consumption, waste, asset management, competitor data, and customer engagement. They were recently acquired by Anheuser Busch InBev.
One other leading international food player, Nestlé, also recently joined the Israel Innovation Authority’s Global Enterprise R&D Collaboration Program, which connects multinational corporations to Israeli tech startups offering relevant technologies while providing financial support for R&D.
On May 7, FoodTech IL – the premier event of the Israeli FoodTech community – will take place, where budding entrepreneurs, startups, investors, food industry executives, government officials and service providers will come together to see how technology will continue to satisfy appetites well into the future. More than 800 participants from across the world are slated to attend.
The Israel Export Institute and the Foreign Trade Administration at the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Trade, through its global offices, will pre–arrange B2B meetings at the event between the participating Israeli companies and foreign visitors attending the event.