The concept of 3D printing food is already pretty futuristic. Add in nutrition personalization, and you get something that sounds even more like it’s straight out of Star Trek.
That’s exactly the device that Anrich3D, one of the finalists in our SKS 2019 Startup Showcase, is trying to make. The soon-to-be-incorporated company is developing a system of 3D printers which can precisely dispense food based off of an individual’s particular nutritional and aesthetic preferences. Pretty radical, huh?
We spoke with Anrich3D founder and CEO Anirudh Agarwal about why he thinks 3D printing could make food more nutritious, affordable, and accessible. Check out the Q&A then get your tickets to SKS to see Anirudh pitch live in Seattle this October!
Give us your 15-second elevator pitch.
We produce personalized meal plans for health enthusiasts based on information from health trackers, apps, wearables and medical check-ups. Each meal is personalized to the individual using multi-material food 3D printing at scale.
What inspired you to start your company?
Most people don’t know what to eat. There are many apps and services out there to give you very personalized advice. But there are no services to convert those apps into meals. Moreover, humans are good at and enjoy creativity, while number crunching is a machine’s forte. I may want to decide what physical form of food I am in the mood for or even what cuisine, but I don’t want to measure every ingredient according to my nutritional requirements.
A food 3D printer can provide personalized nutrition integrating data from all the apps, wearables and even medical records that exist to create the mathematically optimized meal for me — inarguably, the best possible thing I could be eating. It is said, “It’s 80% nutrition and 20% exercise.” With this, I never have to worry about my 80%!
What’s more, it can produce little bite-sized pieces I call “foodlets” so as to make every bite perfect and an absolutely effortless experience. The peak of convenience beyond what any fast food restaurant can provide. And when machines make it, with scale, it can be available and affordable for all.
With “fast-food” made healthy, we can liberate people to always have a healthy option no matter how busy or broke. There is a saying in Hindi, “Jaan hai to Jahan hai”: if you have your health, you have the world! Health is the foundation of our productivity. With optimal nutrition and therefore good health within grasp, people can reach their full potential and propel humanity forward. And of course lower instances of diabetes, obesity and other lifestyle diseases. A lower strain on the healthcare system. Preventive healthcare!
It doesn’t end there. With enough scale, we can transform the supply chain for food by applying manufacturing inventory management techniques. We can work with grocery stores to minimize inventory and even utilize the fresh produce left at the end of each day to minimize food waste. With more efficient distribution, we may be able to reduce world hunger if not eliminate it completely!
I could go on about specific ground-level applications, but this is the overarching vision. This drives me and gives me a reason to wake up in the morning!
What’s the most challenging part of getting a food tech startup off the ground?
Where do I begin! Food is a touchy subject. Literally — we need to be careful about what is literally touching the food! We need regulatory approval (FDA for the U.S.) for the parts, the machine and the process of preparing the food. We also need food handling certification for all personnel that handle the food.
Food is also “touchy” figuratively. People have deep emotional connections to their food. A new form of food may have a psychological barrier to cross for acceptance. We need to focus on demonstrations and education and make this “new” thing mundane and “normal” with exposure for the majority to adopt it. The good thing is, instead of giving supplements powders, we want to focus on real food ingredients and just give the precise proportions of those!
How will your company change the day-to-day life of consumers and the food space as a whole?
Food 3D printing at scale has the potential to make “fast” food healthy. In other words, make healthy food convenient and affordable!
No two people are the same. Everyone has different needs and goals. Food 3D printing at scale has the potential to make individual-level personalization available and affordable for all. Beyond personalized nutrition, people crave a personal touch. For some people, a sandwich is most convenient, while it may be a wrap or hot pocket for others. Some want a dish displayed traditionally, while others may like their toast carved as a dinosaur. With 3D printing, this personal touch can also be added.
Armed with personalized nutrition and this personal touch, Anrich3D can change the perception of food and what form it can take! Star Trek anyone?
For kids, healthier food can be delivered in the shapes of their favorite characters to improve their motivation to finish the meal. This can be made into a gamified nutritional educational program for kids where they unlock more characters by finishing each meal. As the levels progress, they need to identify ingredients and make estimates for the amounts of each ingredient in a balanced meal. The program gradually helps them acquire the taste for healthier foods and teaches them about healthy ingredients and nutrition along the way!
This can be a government-mandated nutrition course in every school all over the world to raise a generation of healthier kids with an acquired taste for healthier food and a deep understanding of nutrition to create a healthier and more productive tomorrow!
Even beyond all that, Anrich3D can streamline the food supply chain from farm to grocery store to your plate so as to minimize waste and redistribute existing produce to minimize hunger. Mobilizing forces across countries, we can end world hunger!
Come watch Anirudh pitch live and at the SKS Startup Showcase next month! Get 25% off your tickets here.