Is 3D printing the future of food?

3D printer printing food

Imagine a world where we use 3D printers to create food, with personally tailored ingredients for your own preferences and dietary requirements. It could be as simple as using a vending machine, at a restaurant, or even in your own kitchen! All this might be achievable in the not-too-distant future, and at Tate & Lyle, we’re playing a part in making it happen.

We have joined a variety of academic institutions and manufacturing companies in a three-year European consortium called IMAGINE. IMAGINE aims to deliver personalised food to consumers by connecting personal needs and digital product technologies, enabling consumers to make good nutrition choices.

Along with our partners, we combine multidisciplinary expertise in consumer behaviour, personalised nutrition and health, digital on-demand food manufacturing, and food formulation science, to achieve 3D food prototype products to be tested by consumers.

Our colleagues involved in the project include Dr Ieva Laurie, Principal Nutrition Scientist EMEA, Will Ballantyne, Bakery Category Technical Manager EMEA, and Natalya Bright, Global Market Research Manager.

“Our Nutrition, technical and consumer insights experts are all excited to be part of this cutting-edge research,” says Ieva. “Not only will it provide new-to-the-world science on how we can use consumer preferences and health data to generate personalised nutrition advice, but also bring to life everyday food products with the help of our ingredients and 3D printing technology.”

Personalised nutrition is attracting a lot of attention as consumers are interested in food and beverages that are tailored to their individual needs to deliver optimum health and wellness. In the US, 73% of nutrition drink consumers agree they’d like more products personalised to their needs and 81% for their children’s needs (Mintel 2021).

3D food printing could make the difference in bringing personalised nutrition into the marketplace in the near-future. This digital technology provides freedom in shape, size, composition and texture, so every food item manufactured can be unique or produced in small series.

Victoria Spadaro-Grant, Tate & Lyle’s President of Innovation and Commercial Development, said: “This is a great opportunity to show how Tate & Lyle is working with like-minded partners to advance the science of recipe creation for mass-scale personalisation, inventing novel textures, and giving consumers the ability to design their own food.”

Our IMAGINE partners include TNO, Wageningen University and Research (WUR), GEA, Solipharma, General Mills and the Dutch Ministry of Defence.

Related links:

The Nutrition Centre

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