Market visitors get a look at the future of food in Jerusalem

Fruit fly protein powder, branded ice cubes and seed-based yogurt are all on the menu at ShukTech event

Health food company representatives prepare protein smoothies at a ShukTech event in Jerusalem, June 21, 2017. (Micah Danney/Times of Israel)
Health food company representatives prepare protein smoothies at a ShukTech event in Jerusalem, June 21, 2017. (Micah Danney/Times of Israel)

Liquor-infused ice cream and protein powder made from fruit fly larvae were among the emerging food products showcased in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market last week, as visitors to the market mingled with startup founders and venture capitalists to get a taste of what our food will look like in the coming years.

It was the third “ShukTech” event this year in the city’s popular market-by-day, which turns into a buzzing nightlife scene when the sun goes down. It was organized by Strauss Group, an Israeli food technology company, and the firm Jerusalem Venture Partners to highlight a variety of technologies being developed in Israel.

Visitors sipped beer and munched on nachos as they watched presentations of promotional technologies like that of Icebow, which can create ice cubes with three-dimensional brand logos formed inside. In one of the market’s bustling corridors, a table displayed bread with words and images burned onto it by OnBread Ltd.

One representative promoted a small piece of hardware that adds up to 20 layers of color imaging to cameras. He said there are plans for a mobile phone application that could assess a piece of meat’s remaining shelf life, among other uses.

Stations also offered free samples of products like high-protein smoothies and sugar-free snacks. YoFix handed out samples of its oat-, lentil-, grain- and seed-based yogurt, which passersby tasted and nodded approvingly over.

Gadi Lesin, president of Strauss Group, said the event was part of his company’s five-year effort to invest in and develop food technologies of the future. “We started the journey to build new companies because we believe that, according to the megatrends, this is the future of the food industry,” he said. “Here in Israel, as a high-tech country and startup land, this is part of our culture and our duty.”

Gadi Tirosh, a managing partner of JVP, said that ShukTech events demonstrate the new possibilities that food represents for various industries. “The importance of this particular event is to see that technologies we know from a lot of different places, whether it’s computer vision, whether it’s artificial intelligence and even cybersecurity, are very relevant for the food industry.”

The Jerusalem Development Authority and the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry also helped organize and finance the event.

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