Challenges facing food engineering

I. Sam Saguy*, R. Paul Singh, Tim Johnson, Peter J. Fryer, Sudhir K. Sastry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Food engineering (FE) was identified as a promising field in the mid-20th century. In the succeeding years, demand for food engineers in industry has continued unabated, but the field, in an academic sense, has not quite lived up to its potential. Yet, the coming challenges of the 21st century offer many opportunities for persons with FE training. This article is based on a plenary session held during the Conference of Food Engineering 2012, in Leesburg, Virginia, USA, and consists of a compilation of opinions of the authors. In order to develop further, FE needs to shed its historical mindset, and embrace a broader vision of its scope to include product, internal human and industrial processes, equipment, package and sensor/automation engineering. Training in FE could be vital to helping address issues such as water availability and quality, health and wellness, food safety, energy and sustainability. A number of 21st century developments will drive this change, including world population growth and aging; the digital universe, "big data" and informatics; personalization, food, health and wellness; food security, environment, sustainability and social responsibility; and the innovation ecosystem (open innovation and partnerships). Food engineering education will also have to change to keep pace with the extraordinary expansion of knowledge, the availability of virtual tools, diminishing funding and laboratory resources, and the possibility of creating partnerships between industry and academia. Studying inner transport phenomena, utilization of new techniques, such as micro processing for modeling and simulation of the digestion system, bioavailability, satiety, DNA predisposition, and nutrigenomics offer unique opportunities. The case of FE in UK and Europe are addressed, where consortia involving different industries have been able to partner to focus on problems with a common scientific theme to leverage their efforts. Finally, the experience of one food company in hiring food engineers as well as chemical engineers is highlighted, together with their interview processes and criteria. While this represents a collection of the opinions of the individual authors, it is hoped that the discussion stimulates a more wide-ranging conversation about FE to enable it to develop further into the 21st century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-342
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Food Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2013


  • Education
  • Future needs
  • Innovation
  • Paradigm shifts
  • Social responsibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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