VTT developed a snack machine that nimbly prepares a product with high fibre or protein content – a Scoothie – in accordance with the consumer's wishes and needs. In the future, such machines may become available at workplaces, airports or shops, for example.
"The trend towards personalized and healthy food and eating is growing as consumers want and also know how to demand products that meet their own preferences, values and needs. Consumers also wish to make their busy everyday lives easier with services that are easily accessible", says VTT Research Team Leader Emilia Nordlund.
The prototype of VTT's snack machine prepares a Scoothie product ordered and tailored by the consumer that is either drinkable or spoonable. Consumers can add fibre or protein to the available plant and milk-based products of various flavours. Consumers make their choices through a user interface offering information and guidance, the future aim of which is to recommend to consumers food items that suit them at that specific moment, for example, by utilising information on their health status and preferences.
The snack machine was developed in the FoodMyWay project co-funded by VTT and the company consortium including Atria, Informa, JOBmeal, Miils, Nature Lyotech, PINC/Paulig, Raisio, and Valio. The project tested new kinds of solutions to meet the needs of consumers for agile preparation of personalized and convenient food that increases well-being in busy everyday situations.
"The machine seamlessly combines several technological solutions. In addition to smart data processing, a lot is also required from the raw materials. In the FoodMyWay project, we explored a number of ingredients that are suitable for fast preparation without sacrificing taste or texture", says Research Team Leader Emilia Nordlund from VTT.
During the project, consumers have been able to influence the development of both the concept and the Scoothie snack.
In order to provide individual food services in a profitable manner, it is necessary to develop food preparation technologies that utilise automation and robotics. Technology has to be combined with learning data solutions and recommendation algorithms.
"Consumer testing showed that there is a clear interest for this kind of a snack machine and the possibility to customise a product that suits you", says Kaisa Vehmas, Senior Scientist at VTT and Project Manager of FoodMyWay project.
The consumer testing was conducted in a workplace environment, but several different business models have been considered for the service. Similar services could be developed for airports, university campuses and sports facilities, for example. Retail sector is also particularly interesting for individual food preparation.
"In the future, it will be possible to order custom-made muesli and yoghurt for you or your family members from shops, as well as bread baked according to your wishes from the in-shop bakery. This will also mean shorter cereal and yoghurt aisles", predicts Kaisa Vehmas.