The first steps have been taken by the Hershey Company to enter the 3D world by giving their products what they have called “innovative opportunities.” Joining forces with 3D Systems, the Hershey Company is the first giant food company in the United States to sign up for the potentially lucrative market of printed food. Yes, printed foods. Where does this concept derive from?
Printed food uses a digital model scanned into the computer as the desired form for an order or product. The machines needed to produce the printed foods are costly, and Hershey is the right the company to pair up with 3D Systems to invest in bringing the concept to the mass market. While the novelty printer was first invented in the 1980s, it has not been brought to the industrial markets until a few years ago. In 2012 the 3D printing market was worth $2.2 billion, a 29 percent rise in value from the previous year.
The Hershey Company enters the 3D world of printing by being able to produce food that is constructed by the layering of layers onto the product based on the computer’s model. The printed food that was on display and available to taste at the 2014 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas this month was described as fragile when compared to traditional manufactured confections. Printed food has the opportunity to change the textures and forms of traditional foods, even then honing specific ingredients that may not be normally considered part of the food item. Because of the possibility with this new technology to introduce the items into a food product whose form and texture can now be altered, traditional recipes could better support the novelty.
This is a different matter than the idea of manufacturing a product, say, like the “Eat Your Face” concept by David Carr of MIT Media Lab. He developed the idea of scanning human faces in and reproducing them in chocolate so that an individual could literally eat their own face. While this idea is clever and innovative, the end of the road is a familiar sculptured object in chocolate. Certainly chocolate molds come in all sorts and sizes and the “Eat Your Face” concept is expensive and therefore perhaps not entirely one that grabs and shakes the public’s wallet from their pockets.
What foods are there presently on the market that are 3D manufactured? Well, few and in between, often mainly stocked by candy stores who can afford to invest in the necessary technology. What is coming out on the market soon is a machine with which anyone could print their own food at home. Pricing for the technology starts at a cool $5,000.The machine can be programmed to manufacture a pizza in a kitchen or garage. Balancing out the investment of the machine in pizzas may take a bit of time. However, in the meantime the Hershey Company has entered the 3D world of food and the world awaits their first line of original edible products.
By Persephone Abbott