I’m currently doing my thesis project on assessing consumer perceptions of 3D printed foods. How do you think of 3D food printing and what do you think the future of it will be? Would love to hear from other food scientists!
For me 3D printed food are limited in possibility as food texture is not as flexible as synthetic polymers …Consumers might love the novelty of such type of fabricated food , but it will take sometime before it will become mainstream and see if preferences will change.
Further as more consumers prefer natural food( free from additives and functional ingredients) to modify a certain food item to make it extrudable or injectable, to enable it to form a desired appearance or shape;therefore it will be a challenge of acceptability from a clean label standpoint.
@xiaoqin - I see this as an ongoing hype about 3D printed foods. Practically how far can this go is still doubtful. The food item or the ingredient mashability is important so that 3D printing can be applied…
Its a different story comparing 3D printed foods with 3D bioengineered grafts (tissue regeneration), because those polymers are melted and structured based on the requirement. Even then when someone says we have a 3D printed heart valve, it is not a completely successful implant to accept.
Next comes the 3D printed meat analogues, probably a bit better application happens here in terms of structuring it towards meat using pea protein etc.
It is also heard that Netherlands have lots of bakery running on 3D printing process (may be someone here can expand on what is observed there).
Thanks for your discussion! As much as I’m fascinated in my research, I very much agree with two of you that 3D food printing is still not a down to earth way of food production. One big obstacle is just as what @nanoscientist described, to get the right consistancy of the food puree for the printing to get started in the first place; even when that is achieved, how much do consumers like the the (mushy) texture as @Roy mentioned above?
One thing I noticed is that our research and science world tend to focus a lot on novelty, innovation, and benefits that WE perceive, but how much of the scientifically studied benefits translate to our consumers? And how long does the novelty of a food last before consumers are stopped by the more realistic considerations such as price, availability, variety, convenience aspect, safety of the food… to name a few? In my opinion, consumer expectations should be studied and addressed BEFORE we proceed further in technology and product development. And consumer studies that basically ask " hey how much do you like this single piece of printed chocolate under our lab setting?" simply do not provide valuable insights. So far I dont see how 3D printed foods would be fully accepted from the consumer point of view, even though technically it is mature enough to be adopted for a small scale (or maybe not lol).