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Is Biotechnology the Latest Food Trend?

Cornelia Poku
Cornelia Poku
February 12, 2020

Basically! Aramark, one of the leading food service businesses in the country, released a list of four foodie “megatrends” consumers can look forward to in 2020: plant-forward dishes, sustainability, superfoods, and global dishes. We happened to notice that biotech is a major player across all four of those trends. Here’s the dish:

“MEGATREND #1: FROM PLANT-BASED TO PLANT-FORWARD"

Vegetarian meal prep

Forget hard-lined dietary categories like carnivore or vegan; nowadays consumers want options! So people are increasingly flexitarian, choosing to eat chicken and tofu instead of only one or the other.

Biotech is making more plants and plant-based foods available to anyone who wants them. Genetic modification paved the way for farmers to meet the increased demands of soy and corn over the past several years. Biotech has also been used to develop the growing number of plant-based “meaty” alternatives like Memphis Meats, Impossible, and Beyond Foods.   

“MEGATREND #2: SUSTAINABILITY TAKES CENTER STAGE”

Sustainability is trending, but it’s definitely not a trend. Consumers have been concerned about and demanding sustainability for the past several years; with millennials often choosing to pay a premium for foods they believe to be more sustainable.

With the promises of biotechnology, the entire food system is trending towards sustainability. Synthetic biology is a cool science that can replace microbes in the soil, decreasing the amount of land that must be used to grow food. Additionally, biotech companies are working on decreasing the petroleum-based plastics we’ve become addicted to; developing biodegradable and compostable plastics that can give our oceans and fish a break.   

“MEGATREND #3: THE RETURN OF THE SUPERFOOD”

Superfoods are bigger than a rebranding label to sell more fruits and veggies. Biotech is enhancing foods we are more prone to eat. For example, in countries where rice is a staple food, Golden Rice is an innovation that can provide the difficult to find nutrient, beta carotene, helping to preserve sight for billions of people.

Researchers are also working on enhancing vegetables’ natural nutrients that get lost in the cooking process. Take broccoli, which loses sulforaphane in the cooking process, but is essential to helping reduce and slow chronic diseases. With biotech, we can broil, bake, stir-fry, whatever we want and get all the “super” nutrients found in these foods.     

“MEGATREND #4: ADVENTURES AWAIT”

Tourism continues to grow and with that, our taste buds have become more international. As we—and our food—jet from one corner of the world to another, we need sustainable fuels to satisfy our cravings for adventure.

Biotech companies are working on several renewable fuels. One of which is SAF, a clean substitute for fossil jet fuels. These types of fuels tend to be made from agricultural waste, or waste oils from biological origin instead of the more environmentally damaging petroleum.

2020 may be food’s big year, but we would say it’s an even bigger year for biotechnology. Check out the Aramark trends piece here and to learn more about how biotechnology is changing everything, visit bio.org/blogs.