In order to realize the creation of a sustainable food supply industry on a global scale by 2050, it is necessary to construct a rational consumption system for food supplies by utilizing foodstuffs that can be eaten but are discarded so that the approximately 10 billion people, including the increasing number of 2 billion people, can consume food satisfactorily. This project aims to solve the problems and realize the goals by developing technologies to consume food loss materials (surplus, off-specification, etc.) in a tasty way, and by developing an innovative food solution system that provides delicious, personalized food suitable for each individual that simultaneously reduces food loss and improves QoL.

Research Topics

The following four themes are being addressed in this project.

1. Preparation and characterization of food ink for printing
One-third of the world’s food production (about 1.3 billion tons) is wasted every year (FAO report). In addition, about 6 million tons of food is thrown away every year in Japan. In this project, in order to contribute to the reduction of food loss, we will prepare food cartridges made of powder/granule and ink with long life from surplus and off-specified agricultural and marine products generated at the production, harvesting, and processing stages of the supply chain, and digitize all the characteristics of foodstuffs to realize food solutions through data linkage, applicable to standards of 3D food printers.

2. Development of evaluation methods for flavor and texture of 3D printed foods
One of the reasons why normal solid-like foods taste so good is because of the complex food structure and variety of food components. Quantifying/patterning the relationship between the food structure, taste/flavor components, and moisture distribution, varying from food to food, and the sensation of deliciousness that humans perceive when they eat the food, is necessary to reproduce or create new deliciousness with 3D food printers. This project aims to digitize the patterns of changes in taste, texture, and aroma over time that occur during mastification of foods, using various data from bio-signal measurements and device measurements, and to use the information to design 3D arrangements of healthy and functional food ingredients that make them taste good.

3. Development of a data-driven 3D food printing system
In this project, we will develop an AI-powered 3D food printing system to provide consumers with fully personalized printed food. Development items for the system includes the development of efficient and hygienic handling methods for powders, granules and pastes, efficient post-heating methods for printed foods, and the introduction of AI for personalized food production. In addition, in order to elucidate the printability, we can conduct basic characteristic dynamics analysis of the raw materials for printed foods to accommodate a wide variety of food materials.

4. Development of a food texture database
The components of “deliciousness” can be broadly divided into flavors and textures. In order to make 3D printed foods, and food and dishes prepared by 3D-AI chef machines “delicious”, we aim to create textures by utilizing Japanese food culture and the characteristics of the Japanese language, which has some of the world’s most famous onomatopoeia. In this project, we are working to construct a database that will contribute to the development of new food-related solutions by enabling the sharing of attribute information such as the texture of food ingredients, which is the basis for cooking, and the cooking process of food ingredients, targeting a wide range of users involved in food.