Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 46 of 139

Fruit. Dovetailed uses what it calls "spherification" and droplet technologies in its 3-D fruit printer. The printer is capable of pro- ducing a food item that has a solid casing and a liquid center in any shape or color, creating the potential for a whole new level of innova- tion—and consumer appeal. "Our square blue bananas were a big hit with the kids," says Kalnikaitė. "When you use liquid in our printer, it drops into a water-based solution, which creates a thin membrane around the solution that is dropped. The 3-D printing part allows us to position those droplets in an interesting form," Kalnikaitė explains. When bitten into, the liquid center makes for an exploding sensation of f lavor. Building the Market As the technology becomes less specialized, prices will eventually come down. Kucsma predicts that within 10 years a 3-D food printer will become a common kitchen appliance. "When microwaves were first introduced, most people didn't quite understand the technology: How does it work? Why do I need it if I have an oven?" she explains. "Fast-forward 50 years, and 90 percent of households have a microwave." Kucsma thinks that shift will happen much quicker with 3-D printers due to the savviness of today's consumers. Those pioneering the industry agree this tech- nology is on a path to hit professional kitchens first before moving on to the specialty retail and foodservice sectors. Culinary Delight. Many manufacturers have employed profes- sional chefs to experiment and test their printers. 3D Systems col- laborated with Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, Md., on a multi-tiered wedding cake using its ChefJet printer. "We co-designed the dessert so that the traditionally baked cake portions worked together with the 3-D printed sugar com- ponents to create a dessert that neither technique could generate alone." says von Hasseln. "This particular tiered cake featured a 3-D–printed sugar cake stand and 3-D–printed sugar tiers sup- porting cake tiers." Chefs using molecular gastronomy in their cuisine will also find value in the technology. Although the lab-inspired cooking style is feasible by hand, "it takes a lot of skill and a lot of patience," Kalnikaitė says. "With a 3-D printer, you're not only able to create complex structures but you're able to do it quickly." Specialty Growth. The next market for this technology will be bakeries, candy shops, and specialty retailers. At first, the big- gest appeal of the printers will be the novelty of the technology. Because they are still at a price point far out of consumers' reach, a 3-D printer will serve as an attraction in itself. The presence of the ChefJet at the 2014 Summer Fancy Food Show drew a steady stream of attendees each show day. "At events ... the ChefJet attracts quite a crowd," von Hasseln says. "It's kind of a magical technology, and it's incredible to see it in action." 3D Systems is already broaching this sector with its Los Angeles test kitchen, The Sugar Lab. When the space opens to the public early this year, retailers will be able to come in to learn how the Chef Jet could fit into their business model. The opportunities for customization give 3-D printers a major selling point. Beyond the obvious applications of beautiful custom designs, the technology can bring with it a new level of personalized food shopping. For instance, a prepared foods counter could print out an organic dough or pasta with a customer's choice of vegetables and spices. "Going further down the road, when 3-D food printers start selling into households," Kuscma adds, "specialty food stores could begin selling premade food capsules that customers could carry out to print at home." Evolution Still to Come Molitch-Hou, while excited about the developments underway, is skeptical that food printing will have the same growth as other print- ers, due to the difficulties of working with edible materials. "For a food printer to reach its full potential, it would have to learn how to cook the food while it is printing and how to break foods down into their individual components, so it actually saves time for the user," he says. Those in the 3-D food printing business, however, remain optimistic, and Kucsma says the Natural Machines team is already working on a follow-up to its Foodini printer that will, in fact, cook while printing. With this technology advancing at such a rapid rate, a real Star Trek–style Replicator seems less implausible. As one Captain Jean-Luc Picard says, "Things are only impossible until they're not." Dennis Marrero is a former editor for Specialty Food Magazine and owner of the web development agency Fake Plastic Websites, LLC. PHOTO: 3D SYSTEMS Multi-tiered wedding cake with 3-D printed sugar components 44 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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