I have been touting the opportunity in 3D-printed food since I witnessed and tasted Oreos being prepared this way at South by Southwest (SXSW) five years ago. We’ve showcased how other foods, such as pizza, can be 3D printed in videos here at WGB, and offered up the idea that 3D printing food in retail stores, as well as home applications, could be one of the biggest tools in our fight against waste.
Imagine how a 3D bank of food printers could change
the bakery department in your stores. For decades, personalized birthday and wedding cakes have driven huge
profits to the department, but imagine how being able
to personalize a lot more than a photo or greeting on the
top of the cake could change the
dynamic even further.
Bakery display cases are beautiful. As retailers such as Hy-Vee
expand them and put them in
the front of the store, they are
setting the stage for a culinary
extravaganza for shoppers. Displays also, unless properly managed, can create a lot of product
and profits that are wasted at
the end of the day when unsold.
Why not have just one cake of
each variety and design on display and have a customer’s custom-made as they shop?
Today, the average person has
3. 3 nutritional avoidances, and
being able to customize a cake
(in just minutes) that can accommodate these could be huge.
Creating a cake, in any size, that is paleo, gluten-free (of
course), FODMAP diet-friendly or avoids certain allergens would increase not only the customer base but profits as well. And it’s not limited to bakery items—think prepared foods and pizzas, just to start. Sound interesting?
Now it gets even more exciting.
Jin-Kyu Rhee, associate professor at Ewha Womans
University in South Korea, presented his research findings at the 2018 American Society for Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology annual meeting, aimed at applying 3D
technology to the creation of customized food that would
fit individuals’ unique nutritional needs.
“We built a platform that uses 3D printing to create
food microstructures that allow food texture and body
absorption to be customized on a personal level,” Rhee
said in a press statement. “We think that one day, peo-
ple could have cartridges that contain powdered versions
of various ingredients that would be put together using
3D printing and cooked according to the user’s needs or
In Rhee’s research, he and his team re-created the
physical properties and nanoscale texture of real food and
figured out how to turn carbohydrate and protein pow-
ders into food with microstructures that can be adjusted
to control texture and absorption by the body.
Take this concept, match it with the DNA results of
nutritional tests from Habit or 23andMe that many retailers are already selling in-store, have your retail dietitian
explain the results to your customer and set up an eating
plan and profile that is entered into your 3D printer food
bank, and we might be 20 steps closer to what nutraceu-ticals were meant to be.
Phil Lempert, also known as
the Supermarket Guru, is a
leading food marketing and
consumer trends analyst for
the grocery and retail sectors.
Nutrition, Food Waste?
3D printing could allow grocery stores to create
custom-made food to meet shoppers’ personal preferences
and dietary restrictions in minutes. By Phil Lempert
The latest news, analysis and trends from an industry expert