At the heart of EXPO 2015, the Universal Exhibition currently hosted by Milan, lies the Future Food District.
One of its pavilions functions just like a real supermarket, inviting visitors to purchase items and explore possible scenarios for the application of new technologies at each step of the food chain.
The 1,500 products on display are positioned beneath digital mirrors providing information about their origins, ingredients and manufacturing process. Wall screens tell you everything you need to know about a specific food: its carbon footprint, nutritional value – and even some advice for good recipes.
“This is an experiment that works. Here we sell directly to clients, so our findings are applicable immediately,” says Marco Pedroni, president of Coop Italia, which is working on the project together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“Of course, we want to test the different solutions that we present here, for six months, to decide what changes to bring to our distribution system. But I believe the future needs to be accessible to all. It’s not just about technology, it’s about exchange, about a more socially aware economy and mode of consumption, and above all, behaving in a more responsible and sustainable way.”
State-of-the-art robots assist along in the supply chain. But, according to the developers of the concept, the idea is to put man back at the heart of a food chain that is more autonomous and sustainable thanks to the use of new technologies.
The project’s manager, Carlo Ratti of the MIT, says inspiration came from the past, when relationships were formed during the exchange of goods – the production and distribution chain was clearer and consumers knew more about the food they were eating.
The ultimate goal, he says, is to make interaction between consumers and products transparent and honest again thanks to the sharing of information.