Food technology with a healthy appetite for innovation
Food is as fundamental as it gets. And our relationship with it has changed with every year. Just ten years ago, most consumers were focused on eating a diet low in fat. Biotechnology was extremely limited in its application and considered somewhat dangerous. And few people knew what organic meant or why it mattered.
Today, the picture is one of heightened challenges. Food prices are soaring. Shortages have sparked unrest the world over. The threat of salmonella poisoning prompts the recall of millions of U.S. eggs. And every year, ten million people die of hunger and hunger-related diseases. At the same time, consumers are hungrier than ever for information about their food. They are better informed about nutrition and more aware of the environmental and societal impacts of everything they buy. In fact, according to an IBM Institute for Business Value survey, two of every five U.S. and U.K. consumers say safety concerns dictate what food they will—and won't—purchase.
So what does IBM have to do with food? Food technology.When Cyclone Nargis struck in May 2008, the people of Myanmar lost an estimated one third of their rice supply. Investigators in the United States were baffled by a mysterious salmonella outbreak that infected more than 1,300 people and cost tomato growers more than $100 million. These events illustrate the vulnerability of the food supply chain as well as the fragility of food supplies in general.