Developing an appetite for 3-D printed food
A survey from Chubb Group of Insurance Companies found that consumers are open to 3-D printing across a wide range of products. For food, however, a hearty appetite hasn’t developed yet.
The survey found consumers were generally willing to consider using 3-D printed items, including: a prosthetic limb, such as an arm, leg or hand (77 percent); shoes or apparel (64 percent); an automotive part (58 percent); and even a house (51 percent). However, only 23 percent would eat 3-D printed food. Eight percent would not use any 3-D printed item.
3-D printing, also called additive manufacturing, continues to receive hype from the technology and investment community, although mass production appears at least a few years away. Costs, speed and the limits of the technology to work with certain materials, such as metal, are inhibitors, according to recent column from The Wall Street Journal.
According to FoodDive, 3-D printed food "is still in its early years and has a long way to go in terms of FDA approvals and updates to make the technology more affordable at the retail and consumer levels."
And yet, developers are actively experimenting with prototypes, especially using sugar and chocolate. The three primary appeals of 3-D printed food appear to be:
Purely aesthetic: Last week at the National Confectioners Association’s annual Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, Hershey showcased its latest 3-D printed chocolate iterations. And at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, 3-D Systems displayed examples of an edible wedding cake topper that matches the bride’s veil as well as a cocktail garnish that melts into a drink.
Purely nutrition: A Washington Post article earlier this year detailed how a wearable device could inform a 3-D food printer exactly what nourishment a body needs and come up with a customized meal. In Germany, 3-D printing enables vegetables to be pureed for senior citizens at a retirement home.
Both aesthetic and nutrition: Many potential food sources packing nutritional benefits but held back by the "ick" factor — algae, duckweed, mealworms and grass — could be made more appealing. Hod Lipson, director of Cornell University’s Creative Machines Lab, told Digital Trends, "There’s an interesting advantage there — being able to make something that looks and tastes good from something that doesn’t."
- Consumers Embrace New Technology But Not the Risk, Chubb Survey Finds – Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
- 3D Printing: Prepare Now for Data Onslaught – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Hershey takes a bite out of 3D technology – FoodDive
- The Hershey Company Unwraps Consumer-Centric Innovations at NCA Sweets & Snacks Expo – The Hershey Company/Business Wire
- Hershey Unveils World’s First Public 3-D Chocolate Candy Printing Exhibit – The Hershey Company/Business Wire
- 5 amazing ways 3-D-printed food will change the way we eat – The Washington Post
- The State of 3D Printing – Sculpteo
- Why 3D food printing is more than just a novelty; it’s the future of food – Digital Trends
Do you think consumers can be convinced to overcome their apprehension over 3-D printed food? What opportunities, if any, do you see around 3-D printed food for retail?