In order to answer the question “What is food engineering?” we need to look at it from the scientific point of view, using the engineering approach. Food engineering could be defined as a field of knowledge with many disciplines, which combines the natural sciences (i.e. physics) with the information about the properties of the certain foodstuffs. The food industry experts use the academic knowledge in the food production processes. It is realized in the process of food products and services production. For example, some food technologists design and develop special technologies and equipment to be able to transform the raw products (i.e. fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat etc.) into the commonly excepted food. It means that almost everything we get to eat is influenced one way or another by some process or special equipment. Due to the overall progress, and the technological one in particular, food engineers constantly change the research topics they work on. It is done to meet the changing demands of the consumers. As commercial factor is important as well, these changes also happen as a reflection of the market needs.
Nowadays food engineering has a lot of obstacles on the way of its functioning and development. One of them is the usage of state-of-the-art ideas and technologies. For example, various biotechnologies and genetic engineering allow us to get a better understanding of the connection between the structure of the molecules and the functional properties of the materials, used in biological engineering.
Consumers change the rules of the game. People constantly demand to get fresher products. This makes food safety and security a very important part of the food engineering process. Another part of this issue is food transportation. Some products are produced in remote locations, and they have to be delivered to the consumers on the huge distances in the shortest terms. To help keeping the foods from spoiling and decay new techniques are used to produce the packaging materials of the new generation. Another branch of food engineering tends to improve the preservation technologies in such way that the fresh and healthy food would actually meet the updated consumer demands of the higher quality.
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In the future the food will become more personal. Changing the existing production and supply chain processes, designed originally to satisfy the high demands for certain products in the huge volumes, to the production lines for the sophisticated products may be a very difficult technologically and cost-inefficient. Such improved personalized new technologies would become extremely important as more custom products would be in demand.
Food engineering has another essential component, which is automation. It may become a crucial point for controlling the increasing levels of product manufacturing. Highly advanced technologies of monitoring and production control systems will be the next step in the developing food engineering industry along with the process automation.
Saving on the energy consumption will also be a very important issue, as it will be a direct way to cut down the manufacturing costs. Environment protection will also remain a part of the general process, as food engineering is inseparable from it. Energy saving technologies, along with the waste recycling would be the top priorities in the future.
The future of food engineering depends on the support and development of the young scholars in this area. This becomes a liability of all the senior researchers to rise the new generation of scientists, able to bring in the new trends and ideas. Food engineering will totally depend on the next generation of scholars and scientists in the close future.
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