The Future of Healthier Foods is Now

A Look at Future Food-Tech San Francisco 2024

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Last month, over 1,400 food industry leaders from 52 countries gathered in San Francisco for the 2024 Future Food-Tech summit. Over two days, representatives from retailers, ingredient providers, investors, CPG companies, and startups discussed some of the most critical issues facing the food and beverage industry’s present and future.

A few crucial topics covered at this year’s conference included addressing the complex challenges of food and nutritional insecurity, exploring solutions for leveraging food as medicine, and the current and future roles of AI and robotic technologies across the value chain.

“Future Food-Tech is a unique opportunity to bring together industry leaders from all facets of the food industry. Everyone from large CPG brands, venture capitalists and investors, startups, and even ingredient suppliers are able to not only look at the here and now, but also where we might be five to ten years from now,” explains Anne Marie Butler, Edlong’s Global Director of Strategy & Innovation, and our representative at the event.

Anne Marie Butler, Edlong Global Director of Strategy and Innovation

Anne Marie Butler, Global Director of Strategy and Innovation

Connect with Anne Marie on LinkedIn!

She adds, “For example, there were technologies and ideas I saw being discussed at the first Future Food-Tech summit I attended in London, maybe six or seven years ago, that are just starting to come online now. Where many events focus on the trends in the here and now, Future Food Tech is more about forming the trends of the future and how technology and innovations will have to evolve to facilitate them.”

At this year’s summit, Butler participated in a panel discussion led by Elizabeth Crawford, Senior Editor of FOODNAVIGATOR-USA, titled “Designing Healthier Products That Deliver On Taste & Indulgence”.

Other panelists included:

  • Laura Brown, Director of Nutrition, KROGER HEALTH
  • Johanna Vazquez, Head of R&D Nutrition, North America, UNILEVER
  • Ben Goodwin, CEO, Co-Founder, and Formulator, OLIPOP
  • John Krzywicki, Head of Spotlight Foods & VP of Corporate Strategy, CHECKERSPOT

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The session tackled a vast array of topics, including:

  • How companies can create more nutrition-rich products while still delivering on taste, texture, and experience
  • Addressing the criticism and pushback around ultra-processed foods.
  • The impact of weight-loss drugs on the industry, particularly on snacking
  • How functional ingredients are being implemented to meet consumer needs
  • Regulatory and the role collaboration plays in overcoming obstacles.

“One of the important takeaways from this talk was just the diversity of perspectives on how to tackle these topics.” Butler explains, “You got to hear from two CPG companies at very different stages, a major grocery retailer, an innovative ingredient startup, and an established flavour house. While we may agree on the issues, each company has their own approach on how to address them.”

She continues, “However, whether it’s providing shoppers with more and healthier options or utilizing algorithms to help them make better choices, we all agreed people won’t buy healthier products if they taste healthy.”

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“At a consumer level this means that often great taste isn’t associated with healthy and good-for-you products. Low fat products should not taste like low fat, low sugar products should not taste overly sweetened, artificial or have any off notes, low salt or low sodium offerings should not taste bland, etc. If we are to ensure the future of food we must make great tasting nutritious and appealing foods and beverages. With this in mind my top piece of advice to developers out there – Do not leave flavour and taste to the end when formulating – Including flavour from the start can aid formula optimisation, ingredients choice, cost, and even processing.”

In addition to being covered during the panel, Butler thinks it’s important to continue discussing the role regulations and legislation play in fostering innovation and creativity.

“At an event like this, there is a parallel of ideation for the next generation of innovations and others just coming to fruition and getting ready to be scaled up. Yet, whether it’s new technology, processing capabilities, or innovative ingredients we are seeing how legislation and potential future regulations are facilitating a huge piece of it. Successfully leveraging collaborative relationships becomes necessary, especially when it comes to navigating developments in the plant-based and fermentation spaces.”

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Butler believes that conferences like Future Food-Tech provide a forum for the collaboration needed to propel future innovation.

Start collaborating with Edlong on your next great innovation today!

Click here to learn more about this event and its partners

About Edlong Flavor Solutions
Edlong has the world’s largest portfolio of authentic dairy and dairy-free flavors that improve classic taste profiles for Cheese, Butter, Sweet Dairy, Cream, and Milk. Working closely with our customers, Edlong can apply the right building blocks to create tastes that uniquely differentiate a brand. At Edlong, we believe the taste of dairy can be innovative, inspiring, a sales booster, and even a game changer. That is why Edlong believes in Everything Dairy Can Be. 

Contact us or visit edlong.com.


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