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Affordability and functions will determine the success of food 3D printers
Use of food 3D printers is still relatively limited, but it has the potential to become the next essential kitchen appliance, says GlobalData

The success of food 3D printers will depend on affordability and functions of printers and accessibility of the ingredients, says data and analytics company GlobalData.

One of the first commercial 3D food printers was the ‘Foodini’, which was released by Spain-based Natural Machines back in 2014. Based on the ingredients used, it allows consumers to create a wide range of sweet and savory dishes in a range of shapes, forms and sizes with a level of detail that would have been extremely difficult to achieve by hand.

Ryan Choi, consumer analyst at GlobalData, says: “Initially, 3D printing of food will be mainly concentrated in the food service sector due to the high price point. One machine still costs thousands of dollars, and it is also difficult to obtain the necessary ingredients. Alongside this, the functions of these printers tend to be tailored for restaurant kitchens where they allow chefs to create unique designed dishes that are impossible to achieve by hand.”

Although the use of food 3D printers is still relatively limited, it has the potential to become the next essential kitchen appliance – or even replace the kitchen itself in both households and restaurants.

Having the ability to print any type of food at the touch of a button means consumers can cook anything they desire as long as they have the design and ingredients for it to work. For example, ordering a takeaway could be as simple as purchasing a food design online from your local restaurant and printing it at home, taking convenience to a whole new level.

However, Choi adds: “Similar to other radical technologies, there will be trust issues to overcome and consumer education to undertake. People may not like the idea of eating printed food and will wonder whether it is as fresh or safe as their usual food.

“People had similar thoughts when the microwave was first introduced, and it has now become an essential household item. Nevertheless, the success of food 3D printers will ultimately come down to how cheap they could become, accessibility of the ingredients and the function of the printers.”

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