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Friday, June 17, 2005

Nanotechnology Goes After the Food Industry

Eighteen months ago, I wrote an article for the Food Marketing Institute’s monthly magazine, Advantage, about how nanotechnology was affecting the food industry. It was entitled “Now You See It” and it can be read here: http://www.fmi.org/advantage/issues/022004/pdfs/pub/nowyouseeit.pdf".

Since that time, a number of companies including Unilever, General Mills (whom I spoke to last summer and did some consulting work for) and Nestle have jumped into the field. I recently came across two articles that suggest nanotechnology is now poised to make even further inroads. The first article comes compliments of FoodProductionDaily.com can talks about next week’s Nano4food conference in the Netherlands. Interestingly, the article notes that now more than 200 food companies are involved in nanotechnology. The key point, however, is captured by this quote from one of the conference participants: “the food industry is … reluctant to adopt new technologies. We would like to show them what the possibilities are … [and] communicate that we are ready to help them.”

I am confident that they -- and others -- will be able to help them because of reports like the one in FoodNavigator.com that discusses how an innovative partnership between two companies is leading to the possibility of using nanotechnology to not only encapsulate flavors but control the release of flavor and protect it from oxidation.

Provided the environmental concerns surrounding nanotechnology can be satisfactorily addressed (this remains a big "if"), the food industry will be hearing more about -- and feeling the impacts of -- nanotechnology sooner rather than later.

Jack Uldrich