Level up your FoodTech talk - a simplified guide to 40+ frequently used terminology

Level up your FoodTech talk - a simplified guide to 40+ frequently used terminology

By
Nicola Spalding
March 29, 2021

Ever been chatting to friends or colleagues about the latest FoodTech news and just felt out of your depth?

They’re throwing around terms like ‘bioreactors’, ‘FBS’ and ‘high-moisture extrusion’ and you’re just sitting there wishing you had brushed up on your FoodTech terminology. We get you.

That’s why the FoodHack team has put together a guide of frequently used FoodTech words and terms to help you keep up with even the most seasoned of industry insiders (and let's be honest, impress your colleagues).


P.S. Thanks for all the suggestions. Some of these totally fried our brains!

P.P.S. Written by a very much non-scientist. If anything isn’t quite right or there's some terms you'd like us to add - please get in touch and we’ll update.

A Simplified Guide To 40+ Frequently Used FoodTech Terminology

🌿Adaptogens: these are herbal pharmaceuticals that help the body resist stress.

☁️ Aeration: the process of adding very tiny pockets of air to something, e.g. whisked eggs.

💨 Aeroponic: this term applies to plants grown in an air or mist environment, without the use of soil. See AeroFarms and AgriCool for examples of urban farms using aeroponic technology.

🐟 Aquaponics: a way to grow fish and vegetables in the same system without needing chemicals, pesticides, or even energy from fossil fuels. Check out Upward Farms, which raised $15M last year for its microgreens and striped bass production technology.

🥯 Best Before Date/Expiry Date: ‘best before’ doesn’t mean that a food product has become unsafe to eat, rather that its taste or texture will be optimum before that date. The expiry date is the last day by which health & safety specialists have determined it’s safe to eat that food product. Does anyone else just rely on a sniff test? These dates can create a lot of food waste, and are getting some serious backlash. 

🧪 Bioreactor: simply, it’s a vessel in which a chemical process involving organisms, or substances derived from organisms, takes place. Commonly used in cell culturing; check out British startup CellulaREvolution for more details.

💨 Carbon Sequestration: this involves the removal or capture of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to combat the climate crisis. 

🧫 Cellular Agriculture/Cell-Based/Cultivated/Cultured/Lab-Grown: all of these terms refer to a protein that has been developed in a lab rather than conventionally grown. There are too many startups in this space to name, but this cultivated meat landscape overview is a good start.

♻️ Circular Economy: an economic system aimed at reducing the use of resources and eliminating waste.

👀 Clean Label: this term has been in the spotlight for the last couple of years, as consumers become more aware of long ingredients lists. Now, companies are striving to use as few ingredients as they can and to keep them as "natural" as possible.

🍴Cloud Kitchens/Ghost Kitchens: kitchens that are rented to chefs or virtual restaurants so they can operate on a delivery-only basis. These are increasingly celeb-backed; find out more here.

🧬 CRISPR: stands for ‘clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’. This relatively new technology allows scientists to “edit” DNA gene sequences. So, they could take out the bad parts of a food’s DNA gene sequence (e.g. easy bruising) while adding in or changing parts that help make it taste better or last longer.

🐜 Entomophagy: simply put, it’s the technical term for eating insects. We took a look at insect protein a couple of weeks ago, so here’s what you need to know.

🍄 Fermentation:

  • Traditional Fermentation: this process uses microbes to alter flavour, nutrition, or texture, and it’s been around for a while.
  • Precision Fermentation: used to make a single specific, highly-functional protein. For example, Perfect Day is using precision fermentation to make real milk proteins that are molecularly identical to conventional milk proteins but totally animal-free. This video is helpful, or we covered the tech in detail over on FoodHack+.
  • Biomass Fermentation: refers to the mass production of protein, and relies on fast-growing protein-dense microorganisms like algae or fungi. Nature’s Fynd is one to watch in this space.

🧫 Fetal Bovine Serum: often referred to as FBS, is the most widely used, but most controversial, growth supplement for cell culture media, because of its high content of embryonic growth-promoting factors. Some cell-based startups use plant-based growth medium, instead, for a truly cruelty-free lab-grown product.

👅Flavour Encapsulation: think about taking a (potentially volatile or delicate and almost certainly expensive) flavour and putting it in a little protective envelope. This might control its release or just protect it from evaporation or migration.

💪 Functional Ingredients: deliver additional or enhanced benefits over and above their basic nutritional value, such as probiotics, prebiotics and vitamins.

🍄 Fungi(fruiting bodies) vs. Mycelia vs. Hyphae: hyphae grow from spores of a fungal organism called a basidiomycete. As hyphae continue to grow, they fuse together to form mycelium. If environmental conditions are right, the mycelium will produce a mushroom, a.k.a. the fruiting body.

🥛 Fortification: foods that are fortified have extra nutrients added to them, such as milk with added vitamin D or salt with added iodine.

🥓 High-Moisture Extrusion: this process can be used to make plant-based meat and seafood textures, by altering the structure of proteins.

🍼 High-Pressure Processing (HPP): this is cold pasteurisation in ultra-high pressure purified water. It helps to eliminate pathogens such as E.coli and Listeria from packaged food to keep it fresh for longer.

🌱‍ Hybrid: hybrid alternative proteins harness both plant-based and cell-based technologies. This is a new space, but Moolec Science and New Age Meats are working on it.

📦 Meal Kits: at-home delivery services of all the ingredients needed to make specific meals, with zero waste. Often criticised for heavy packaging, but can be a good source of recipe inspiration. These took off through the pandemic as restaurants diversified to sell their dishes to consumers stuck at home. The industry is expected to hit $20Bn by 2027, and there’s a kit out there for everything you can think of, from birthday cakes to superfood smoothies, craft cocktails, and restaurant-quality ready-to-heat options.

🧬 Microbiome: the collective term for all the microbiota which live in and on a human body. It's believed that our gut microbiome might hold the key to all health issues, hence the rise of functional foods targeted at the gut. Check out this interview we did with Richard Sprague of personalised nutrition project Personal Science for more details.

🔎 Microorganism: another word for ‘microbe’, i.e. a teeny tiny single cell or colony of cells.

🍄 Mycelium: is a filamentous, protein-rich ingredient extracted from the root structure of mushrooms. It’s a wonder material, used in everything from plant-based steaks (Meati Foods) and seafood (New Singularity) to vegan leather (Mycoworks).

🧠 Nutraceutical: a pharmaceutical alternative that claims physiological benefits, so essentially a dietary supplement or a functional ingredient. These can sometimes be dubious in terms of the science, e.g. superfoods.

🧪 Oleogelation: this is a method of replacing conventional saturated fatty acid‐based lipids with a healthier alternative, important when considering the nutritional content of foods.

👃 Organoleptic Properties: are the sensory aspects of food, from mouthfeel to appearance and aroma.

🌱 Phytotechnology: harnessing the power of plants and applying them to engineering or science problems, e.g. to remove contaminants or transport water.

🐟 Precision Fishing: some fisheries are using advanced analytics to improve ocean management and fish more sustainably. It’s a complex topic, but this article has more details.

🥤 Rheology: the study of the flow of matter. It’s important in quality control during food manufacture and processing to check consistency and other sensory characteristics.

🧫 Single-Cell Protein: refers to protein derived from cells of yeast, fungi, algae, and bacteria, which is then used either as animal feed or human food.

👅 Textural Analysis: there are many benefits to this process in food production, because temperature, humidity and cooking time can all affect the mouthfeel of a food product, which ultimately affects consumer enjoyment (and sales).

🔎 Traceability: this has become increasingly important within food in recent years, especially through the pandemic. It clarifies when, where and by whom a food product has been produced, and ensures that anything deemed unsafe is withdrawn or recalled.

🥬 Urban Farms: high-tech operations reducing the distance between production and consumption (air miles) and the carbon footprint of conventional food production. The space is really heating up, and key players include Little Leaf Farms, Plenty Unlimited, Revol Greens, Infarm, Bowery Farming, Gardyn and SweGreen, all of whom have made bank in the past year. If you want to know more, we covered the topic of how vertical farms are aiming high over on FoodHack+ a little while back. 

🖨 3D Food Printing: this process is another method of creating food in a lab by layering the material in a specific design, as a regular paper printer would (but with a lot more technical complexity!). For example, Revo Foods has developed the world’s first 3D-printed plant-based salmon, and NovaMeat, Redefine Meat and SavorEat are 3D-printing plant-based meats.


DISCLAIMER: Written by a very much non-scientist, but a food tech enthusiast. If anything isn’t quite right, please get in touch and we’ll fix it!


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Ever been chatting to friends or colleagues about the latest FoodTech news and just felt out of your depth?

They’re throwing around terms like ‘bioreactors’, ‘FBS’ and ‘high-moisture extrusion’ and you’re just sitting there wishing you had brushed up on your FoodTech terminology. We get you.

That’s why the FoodHack team has put together a guide of frequently used FoodTech words and terms to help you keep up with even the most seasoned of industry insiders (and let's be honest, impress your colleagues).


P.S. Thanks for all the suggestions. Some of these totally fried our brains!

P.P.S. Written by a very much non-scientist. If anything isn’t quite right or there's some terms you'd like us to add - please get in touch and we’ll update.

A Simplified Guide To 40+ Frequently Used FoodTech Terminology

🌿Adaptogens: these are herbal pharmaceuticals that help the body resist stress.

☁️ Aeration: the process of adding very tiny pockets of air to something, e.g. whisked eggs.

💨 Aeroponic: this term applies to plants grown in an air or mist environment, without the use of soil. See AeroFarms and AgriCool for examples of urban farms using aeroponic technology.

🐟 Aquaponics: a way to grow fish and vegetables in the same system without needing chemicals, pesticides, or even energy from fossil fuels. Check out Upward Farms, which raised $15M last year for its microgreens and striped bass production technology.

🥯 Best Before Date/Expiry Date: ‘best before’ doesn’t mean that a food product has become unsafe to eat, rather that its taste or texture will be optimum before that date. The expiry date is the last day by which health & safety specialists have determined it’s safe to eat that food product. Does anyone else just rely on a sniff test? These dates can create a lot of food waste, and are getting some serious backlash. 

🧪 Bioreactor: simply, it’s a vessel in which a chemical process involving organisms, or substances derived from organisms, takes place. Commonly used in cell culturing; check out British startup CellulaREvolution for more details.

💨 Carbon Sequestration: this involves the removal or capture of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to combat the climate crisis. 

🧫 Cellular Agriculture/Cell-Based/Cultivated/Cultured/Lab-Grown: all of these terms refer to a protein that has been developed in a lab rather than conventionally grown. There are too many startups in this space to name, but this cultivated meat landscape overview is a good start.

♻️ Circular Economy: an economic system aimed at reducing the use of resources and eliminating waste.

👀 Clean Label: this term has been in the spotlight for the last couple of years, as consumers become more aware of long ingredients lists. Now, companies are striving to use as few ingredients as they can and to keep them as "natural" as possible.

🍴Cloud Kitchens/Ghost Kitchens: kitchens that are rented to chefs or virtual restaurants so they can operate on a delivery-only basis. These are increasingly celeb-backed; find out more here.

🧬 CRISPR: stands for ‘clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’. This relatively new technology allows scientists to “edit” DNA gene sequences. So, they could take out the bad parts of a food’s DNA gene sequence (e.g. easy bruising) while adding in or changing parts that help make it taste better or last longer.

🐜 Entomophagy: simply put, it’s the technical term for eating insects. We took a look at insect protein a couple of weeks ago, so here’s what you need to know.

🍄 Fermentation:

  • Traditional Fermentation: this process uses microbes to alter flavour, nutrition, or texture, and it’s been around for a while.
  • Precision Fermentation: used to make a single specific, highly-functional protein. For example, Perfect Day is using precision fermentation to make real milk proteins that are molecularly identical to conventional milk proteins but totally animal-free. This video is helpful, or we covered the tech in detail over on FoodHack+.
  • Biomass Fermentation: refers to the mass production of protein, and relies on fast-growing protein-dense microorganisms like algae or fungi. Nature’s Fynd is one to watch in this space.

🧫 Fetal Bovine Serum: often referred to as FBS, is the most widely used, but most controversial, growth supplement for cell culture media, because of its high content of embryonic growth-promoting factors. Some cell-based startups use plant-based growth medium, instead, for a truly cruelty-free lab-grown product.

👅Flavour Encapsulation: think about taking a (potentially volatile or delicate and almost certainly expensive) flavour and putting it in a little protective envelope. This might control its release or just protect it from evaporation or migration.

💪 Functional Ingredients: deliver additional or enhanced benefits over and above their basic nutritional value, such as probiotics, prebiotics and vitamins.

🍄 Fungi(fruiting bodies) vs. Mycelia vs. Hyphae: hyphae grow from spores of a fungal organism called a basidiomycete. As hyphae continue to grow, they fuse together to form mycelium. If environmental conditions are right, the mycelium will produce a mushroom, a.k.a. the fruiting body.

🥛 Fortification: foods that are fortified have extra nutrients added to them, such as milk with added vitamin D or salt with added iodine.

🥓 High-Moisture Extrusion: this process can be used to make plant-based meat and seafood textures, by altering the structure of proteins.

🍼 High-Pressure Processing (HPP): this is cold pasteurisation in ultra-high pressure purified water. It helps to eliminate pathogens such as E.coli and Listeria from packaged food to keep it fresh for longer.

🌱‍ Hybrid: hybrid alternative proteins harness both plant-based and cell-based technologies. This is a new space, but Moolec Science and New Age Meats are working on it.

📦 Meal Kits: at-home delivery services of all the ingredients needed to make specific meals, with zero waste. Often criticised for heavy packaging, but can be a good source of recipe inspiration. These took off through the pandemic as restaurants diversified to sell their dishes to consumers stuck at home. The industry is expected to hit $20Bn by 2027, and there’s a kit out there for everything you can think of, from birthday cakes to superfood smoothies, craft cocktails, and restaurant-quality ready-to-heat options.

🧬 Microbiome: the collective term for all the microbiota which live in and on a human body. It's believed that our gut microbiome might hold the key to all health issues, hence the rise of functional foods targeted at the gut. Check out this interview we did with Richard Sprague of personalised nutrition project Personal Science for more details.

🔎 Microorganism: another word for ‘microbe’, i.e. a teeny tiny single cell or colony of cells.

🍄 Mycelium: is a filamentous, protein-rich ingredient extracted from the root structure of mushrooms. It’s a wonder material, used in everything from plant-based steaks (Meati Foods) and seafood (New Singularity) to vegan leather (Mycoworks).

🧠 Nutraceutical: a pharmaceutical alternative that claims physiological benefits, so essentially a dietary supplement or a functional ingredient. These can sometimes be dubious in terms of the science, e.g. superfoods.

🧪 Oleogelation: this is a method of replacing conventional saturated fatty acid‐based lipids with a healthier alternative, important when considering the nutritional content of foods.

👃 Organoleptic Properties: are the sensory aspects of food, from mouthfeel to appearance and aroma.

🌱 Phytotechnology: harnessing the power of plants and applying them to engineering or science problems, e.g. to remove contaminants or transport water.

🐟 Precision Fishing: some fisheries are using advanced analytics to improve ocean management and fish more sustainably. It’s a complex topic, but this article has more details.

🥤 Rheology: the study of the flow of matter. It’s important in quality control during food manufacture and processing to check consistency and other sensory characteristics.

🧫 Single-Cell Protein: refers to protein derived from cells of yeast, fungi, algae, and bacteria, which is then used either as animal feed or human food.

👅 Textural Analysis: there are many benefits to this process in food production, because temperature, humidity and cooking time can all affect the mouthfeel of a food product, which ultimately affects consumer enjoyment (and sales).

🔎 Traceability: this has become increasingly important within food in recent years, especially through the pandemic. It clarifies when, where and by whom a food product has been produced, and ensures that anything deemed unsafe is withdrawn or recalled.

🥬 Urban Farms: high-tech operations reducing the distance between production and consumption (air miles) and the carbon footprint of conventional food production. The space is really heating up, and key players include Little Leaf Farms, Plenty Unlimited, Revol Greens, Infarm, Bowery Farming, Gardyn and SweGreen, all of whom have made bank in the past year. If you want to know more, we covered the topic of how vertical farms are aiming high over on FoodHack+ a little while back. 

🖨 3D Food Printing: this process is another method of creating food in a lab by layering the material in a specific design, as a regular paper printer would (but with a lot more technical complexity!). For example, Revo Foods has developed the world’s first 3D-printed plant-based salmon, and NovaMeat, Redefine Meat and SavorEat are 3D-printing plant-based meats.


DISCLAIMER: Written by a very much non-scientist, but a food tech enthusiast. If anything isn’t quite right, please get in touch and we’ll fix it!


Ever been chatting to friends or colleagues about the latest FoodTech news and just felt out of your depth?

They’re throwing around terms like ‘bioreactors’, ‘FBS’ and ‘high-moisture extrusion’ and you’re just sitting there wishing you had brushed up on your FoodTech terminology. We get you.

That’s why the FoodHack team has put together a guide of frequently used FoodTech words and terms to help you keep up with even the most seasoned of industry insiders (and let's be honest, impress your colleagues).


P.S. Thanks for all the suggestions. Some of these totally fried our brains!

P.P.S. Written by a very much non-scientist. If anything isn’t quite right or there's some terms you'd like us to add - please get in touch and we’ll update.

A Simplified Guide To 40+ Frequently Used FoodTech Terminology

🌿Adaptogens: these are herbal pharmaceuticals that help the body resist stress.

☁️ Aeration: the process of adding very tiny pockets of air to something, e.g. whisked eggs.

💨 Aeroponic: this term applies to plants grown in an air or mist environment, without the use of soil. See AeroFarms and AgriCool for examples of urban farms using aeroponic technology.

🐟 Aquaponics: a way to grow fish and vegetables in the same system without needing chemicals, pesticides, or even energy from fossil fuels. Check out Upward Farms, which raised $15M last year for its microgreens and striped bass production technology.

🥯 Best Before Date/Expiry Date: ‘best before’ doesn’t mean that a food product has become unsafe to eat, rather that its taste or texture will be optimum before that date. The expiry date is the last day by which health & safety specialists have determined it’s safe to eat that food product. Does anyone else just rely on a sniff test? These dates can create a lot of food waste, and are getting some serious backlash. 

🧪 Bioreactor: simply, it’s a vessel in which a chemical process involving organisms, or substances derived from organisms, takes place. Commonly used in cell culturing; check out British startup CellulaREvolution for more details.

💨 Carbon Sequestration: this involves the removal or capture of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to combat the climate crisis. 

🧫 Cellular Agriculture/Cell-Based/Cultivated/Cultured/Lab-Grown: all of these terms refer to a protein that has been developed in a lab rather than conventionally grown. There are too many startups in this space to name, but this cultivated meat landscape overview is a good start.

♻️ Circular Economy: an economic system aimed at reducing the use of resources and eliminating waste.

👀 Clean Label: this term has been in the spotlight for the last couple of years, as consumers become more aware of long ingredients lists. Now, companies are striving to use as few ingredients as they can and to keep them as "natural" as possible.

🍴Cloud Kitchens/Ghost Kitchens: kitchens that are rented to chefs or virtual restaurants so they can operate on a delivery-only basis. These are increasingly celeb-backed; find out more here.

🧬 CRISPR: stands for ‘clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’. This relatively new technology allows scientists to “edit” DNA gene sequences. So, they could take out the bad parts of a food’s DNA gene sequence (e.g. easy bruising) while adding in or changing parts that help make it taste better or last longer.

🐜 Entomophagy: simply put, it’s the technical term for eating insects. We took a look at insect protein a couple of weeks ago, so here’s what you need to know.

🍄 Fermentation:

  • Traditional Fermentation: this process uses microbes to alter flavour, nutrition, or texture, and it’s been around for a while.
  • Precision Fermentation: used to make a single specific, highly-functional protein. For example, Perfect Day is using precision fermentation to make real milk proteins that are molecularly identical to conventional milk proteins but totally animal-free. This video is helpful, or we covered the tech in detail over on FoodHack+.
  • Biomass Fermentation: refers to the mass production of protein, and relies on fast-growing protein-dense microorganisms like algae or fungi. Nature’s Fynd is one to watch in this space.

🧫 Fetal Bovine Serum: often referred to as FBS, is the most widely used, but most controversial, growth supplement for cell culture media, because of its high content of embryonic growth-promoting factors. Some cell-based startups use plant-based growth medium, instead, for a truly cruelty-free lab-grown product.

👅Flavour Encapsulation: think about taking a (potentially volatile or delicate and almost certainly expensive) flavour and putting it in a little protective envelope. This might control its release or just protect it from evaporation or migration.

💪 Functional Ingredients: deliver additional or enhanced benefits over and above their basic nutritional value, such as probiotics, prebiotics and vitamins.

🍄 Fungi(fruiting bodies) vs. Mycelia vs. Hyphae: hyphae grow from spores of a fungal organism called a basidiomycete. As hyphae continue to grow, they fuse together to form mycelium. If environmental conditions are right, the mycelium will produce a mushroom, a.k.a. the fruiting body.

🥛 Fortification: foods that are fortified have extra nutrients added to them, such as milk with added vitamin D or salt with added iodine.

🥓 High-Moisture Extrusion: this process can be used to make plant-based meat and seafood textures, by altering the structure of proteins.

🍼 High-Pressure Processing (HPP): this is cold pasteurisation in ultra-high pressure purified water. It helps to eliminate pathogens such as E.coli and Listeria from packaged food to keep it fresh for longer.

🌱‍ Hybrid: hybrid alternative proteins harness both plant-based and cell-based technologies. This is a new space, but Moolec Science and New Age Meats are working on it.

📦 Meal Kits: at-home delivery services of all the ingredients needed to make specific meals, with zero waste. Often criticised for heavy packaging, but can be a good source of recipe inspiration. These took off through the pandemic as restaurants diversified to sell their dishes to consumers stuck at home. The industry is expected to hit $20Bn by 2027, and there’s a kit out there for everything you can think of, from birthday cakes to superfood smoothies, craft cocktails, and restaurant-quality ready-to-heat options.

🧬 Microbiome: the collective term for all the microbiota which live in and on a human body. It's believed that our gut microbiome might hold the key to all health issues, hence the rise of functional foods targeted at the gut. Check out this interview we did with Richard Sprague of personalised nutrition project Personal Science for more details.

🔎 Microorganism: another word for ‘microbe’, i.e. a teeny tiny single cell or colony of cells.

🍄 Mycelium: is a filamentous, protein-rich ingredient extracted from the root structure of mushrooms. It’s a wonder material, used in everything from plant-based steaks (Meati Foods) and seafood (New Singularity) to vegan leather (Mycoworks).

🧠 Nutraceutical: a pharmaceutical alternative that claims physiological benefits, so essentially a dietary supplement or a functional ingredient. These can sometimes be dubious in terms of the science, e.g. superfoods.

🧪 Oleogelation: this is a method of replacing conventional saturated fatty acid‐based lipids with a healthier alternative, important when considering the nutritional content of foods.

👃 Organoleptic Properties: are the sensory aspects of food, from mouthfeel to appearance and aroma.

🌱 Phytotechnology: harnessing the power of plants and applying them to engineering or science problems, e.g. to remove contaminants or transport water.

🐟 Precision Fishing: some fisheries are using advanced analytics to improve ocean management and fish more sustainably. It’s a complex topic, but this article has more details.

🥤 Rheology: the study of the flow of matter. It’s important in quality control during food manufacture and processing to check consistency and other sensory characteristics.

🧫 Single-Cell Protein: refers to protein derived from cells of yeast, fungi, algae, and bacteria, which is then used either as animal feed or human food.

👅 Textural Analysis: there are many benefits to this process in food production, because temperature, humidity and cooking time can all affect the mouthfeel of a food product, which ultimately affects consumer enjoyment (and sales).

🔎 Traceability: this has become increasingly important within food in recent years, especially through the pandemic. It clarifies when, where and by whom a food product has been produced, and ensures that anything deemed unsafe is withdrawn or recalled.

🥬 Urban Farms: high-tech operations reducing the distance between production and consumption (air miles) and the carbon footprint of conventional food production. The space is really heating up, and key players include Little Leaf Farms, Plenty Unlimited, Revol Greens, Infarm, Bowery Farming, Gardyn and SweGreen, all of whom have made bank in the past year. If you want to know more, we covered the topic of how vertical farms are aiming high over on FoodHack+ a little while back. 

🖨 3D Food Printing: this process is another method of creating food in a lab by layering the material in a specific design, as a regular paper printer would (but with a lot more technical complexity!). For example, Revo Foods has developed the world’s first 3D-printed plant-based salmon, and NovaMeat, Redefine Meat and SavorEat are 3D-printing plant-based meats.


DISCLAIMER: Written by a very much non-scientist, but a food tech enthusiast. If anything isn’t quite right, please get in touch and we’ll fix it!


Ever been chatting to friends or colleagues about the latest FoodTech news and just felt out of your depth?

They’re throwing around terms like ‘bioreactors’, ‘FBS’ and ‘high-moisture extrusion’ and you’re just sitting there wishing you had brushed up on your FoodTech terminology. We get you.

That’s why the FoodHack team has put together a guide of frequently used FoodTech words and terms to help you keep up with even the most seasoned of industry insiders (and let's be honest, impress your colleagues).


P.S. Thanks for all the suggestions. Some of these totally fried our brains!

P.P.S. Written by a very much non-scientist. If anything isn’t quite right or there's some terms you'd like us to add - please get in touch and we’ll update.

A Simplified Guide To 40+ Frequently Used FoodTech Terminology

🌿Adaptogens: these are herbal pharmaceuticals that help the body resist stress.

☁️ Aeration: the process of adding very tiny pockets of air to something, e.g. whisked eggs.

💨 Aeroponic: this term applies to plants grown in an air or mist environment, without the use of soil. See AeroFarms and AgriCool for examples of urban farms using aeroponic technology.

🐟 Aquaponics: a way to grow fish and vegetables in the same system without needing chemicals, pesticides, or even energy from fossil fuels. Check out Upward Farms, which raised $15M last year for its microgreens and striped bass production technology.

🥯 Best Before Date/Expiry Date: ‘best before’ doesn’t mean that a food product has become unsafe to eat, rather that its taste or texture will be optimum before that date. The expiry date is the last day by which health & safety specialists have determined it’s safe to eat that food product. Does anyone else just rely on a sniff test? These dates can create a lot of food waste, and are getting some serious backlash. 

🧪 Bioreactor: simply, it’s a vessel in which a chemical process involving organisms, or substances derived from organisms, takes place. Commonly used in cell culturing; check out British startup CellulaREvolution for more details.

💨 Carbon Sequestration: this involves the removal or capture of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to combat the climate crisis. 

🧫 Cellular Agriculture/Cell-Based/Cultivated/Cultured/Lab-Grown: all of these terms refer to a protein that has been developed in a lab rather than conventionally grown. There are too many startups in this space to name, but this cultivated meat landscape overview is a good start.

♻️ Circular Economy: an economic system aimed at reducing the use of resources and eliminating waste.

👀 Clean Label: this term has been in the spotlight for the last couple of years, as consumers become more aware of long ingredients lists. Now, companies are striving to use as few ingredients as they can and to keep them as "natural" as possible.

🍴Cloud Kitchens/Ghost Kitchens: kitchens that are rented to chefs or virtual restaurants so they can operate on a delivery-only basis. These are increasingly celeb-backed; find out more here.

🧬 CRISPR: stands for ‘clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’. This relatively new technology allows scientists to “edit” DNA gene sequences. So, they could take out the bad parts of a food’s DNA gene sequence (e.g. easy bruising) while adding in or changing parts that help make it taste better or last longer.

🐜 Entomophagy: simply put, it’s the technical term for eating insects. We took a look at insect protein a couple of weeks ago, so here’s what you need to know.

🍄 Fermentation:

  • Traditional Fermentation: this process uses microbes to alter flavour, nutrition, or texture, and it’s been around for a while.
  • Precision Fermentation: used to make a single specific, highly-functional protein. For example, Perfect Day is using precision fermentation to make real milk proteins that are molecularly identical to conventional milk proteins but totally animal-free. This video is helpful, or we covered the tech in detail over on FoodHack+.
  • Biomass Fermentation: refers to the mass production of protein, and relies on fast-growing protein-dense microorganisms like algae or fungi. Nature’s Fynd is one to watch in this space.

🧫 Fetal Bovine Serum: often referred to as FBS, is the most widely used, but most controversial, growth supplement for cell culture media, because of its high content of embryonic growth-promoting factors. Some cell-based startups use plant-based growth medium, instead, for a truly cruelty-free lab-grown product.

👅Flavour Encapsulation: think about taking a (potentially volatile or delicate and almost certainly expensive) flavour and putting it in a little protective envelope. This might control its release or just protect it from evaporation or migration.

💪 Functional Ingredients: deliver additional or enhanced benefits over and above their basic nutritional value, such as probiotics, prebiotics and vitamins.

🍄 Fungi(fruiting bodies) vs. Mycelia vs. Hyphae: hyphae grow from spores of a fungal organism called a basidiomycete. As hyphae continue to grow, they fuse together to form mycelium. If environmental conditions are right, the mycelium will produce a mushroom, a.k.a. the fruiting body.

🥛 Fortification: foods that are fortified have extra nutrients added to them, such as milk with added vitamin D or salt with added iodine.

🥓 High-Moisture Extrusion: this process can be used to make plant-based meat and seafood textures, by altering the structure of proteins.

🍼 High-Pressure Processing (HPP): this is cold pasteurisation in ultra-high pressure purified water. It helps to eliminate pathogens such as E.coli and Listeria from packaged food to keep it fresh for longer.

🌱‍ Hybrid: hybrid alternative proteins harness both plant-based and cell-based technologies. This is a new space, but Moolec Science and New Age Meats are working on it.

📦 Meal Kits: at-home delivery services of all the ingredients needed to make specific meals, with zero waste. Often criticised for heavy packaging, but can be a good source of recipe inspiration. These took off through the pandemic as restaurants diversified to sell their dishes to consumers stuck at home. The industry is expected to hit $20Bn by 2027, and there’s a kit out there for everything you can think of, from birthday cakes to superfood smoothies, craft cocktails, and restaurant-quality ready-to-heat options.

🧬 Microbiome: the collective term for all the microbiota which live in and on a human body. It's believed that our gut microbiome might hold the key to all health issues, hence the rise of functional foods targeted at the gut. Check out this interview we did with Richard Sprague of personalised nutrition project Personal Science for more details.

🔎 Microorganism: another word for ‘microbe’, i.e. a teeny tiny single cell or colony of cells.

🍄 Mycelium: is a filamentous, protein-rich ingredient extracted from the root structure of mushrooms. It’s a wonder material, used in everything from plant-based steaks (Meati Foods) and seafood (New Singularity) to vegan leather (Mycoworks).

🧠 Nutraceutical: a pharmaceutical alternative that claims physiological benefits, so essentially a dietary supplement or a functional ingredient. These can sometimes be dubious in terms of the science, e.g. superfoods.

🧪 Oleogelation: this is a method of replacing conventional saturated fatty acid‐based lipids with a healthier alternative, important when considering the nutritional content of foods.

👃 Organoleptic Properties: are the sensory aspects of food, from mouthfeel to appearance and aroma.

🌱 Phytotechnology: harnessing the power of plants and applying them to engineering or science problems, e.g. to remove contaminants or transport water.

🐟 Precision Fishing: some fisheries are using advanced analytics to improve ocean management and fish more sustainably. It’s a complex topic, but this article has more details.

🥤 Rheology: the study of the flow of matter. It’s important in quality control during food manufacture and processing to check consistency and other sensory characteristics.

🧫 Single-Cell Protein: refers to protein derived from cells of yeast, fungi, algae, and bacteria, which is then used either as animal feed or human food.

👅 Textural Analysis: there are many benefits to this process in food production, because temperature, humidity and cooking time can all affect the mouthfeel of a food product, which ultimately affects consumer enjoyment (and sales).

🔎 Traceability: this has become increasingly important within food in recent years, especially through the pandemic. It clarifies when, where and by whom a food product has been produced, and ensures that anything deemed unsafe is withdrawn or recalled.

🥬 Urban Farms: high-tech operations reducing the distance between production and consumption (air miles) and the carbon footprint of conventional food production. The space is really heating up, and key players include Little Leaf Farms, Plenty Unlimited, Revol Greens, Infarm, Bowery Farming, Gardyn and SweGreen, all of whom have made bank in the past year. If you want to know more, we covered the topic of how vertical farms are aiming high over on FoodHack+ a little while back. 

🖨 3D Food Printing: this process is another method of creating food in a lab by layering the material in a specific design, as a regular paper printer would (but with a lot more technical complexity!). For example, Revo Foods has developed the world’s first 3D-printed plant-based salmon, and NovaMeat, Redefine Meat and SavorEat are 3D-printing plant-based meats.


DISCLAIMER: Written by a very much non-scientist, but a food tech enthusiast. If anything isn’t quite right, please get in touch and we’ll fix it!


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