Could 3D printing facilitate the future of food? It’s certainly a possibility, according to scientists from the Catholic University (KU) of Leuven who are pioneering the technology as a credible solution to global sustainability issues.
3D printers effectively create an object by printing in layers. Preparing food in this manner would be a much easier and speedier alternative to traditional methods of cooking. Moreover, AM technology – as it is commonly referred – poses significant opportunities for brands who wish to customise and differentiate their products. However, while this process is regularly subject to experimentation and debate across the globe, it is yet to become commonplace.
According to researchers at KU Leuven, printed food will inevitably face public resistance. To understand current consumer attitudes, they questioned 260 Swiss-German adults about the concept and evaluated their awareness, initial responses and receptiveness. As expected, the instant reaction was one of repulsion, with many participants disregarding the end-product as highly processed and potentially unsafe to consume. Comparatively, once they were educated properly about the technology and its multiple benefits, the responses became much more positive.
The study thus surmised that manufacturers must be savvy if they are to bring printed food to market. Above all else, researchers emphasised the importance of positively educating and influencing consumers; “This observation highlights how important it is to control and anticipate the communication about this new technology, supporting the need for an early and well-designed information campaign.