Regulating food technologyThe core of the Moon Jae-in administration’s economy policy is innovative growth and social economics. To add jobs, innovative growth based on artificial intelligence and information and communication technologies, and the fruits of the growth should be distributed fairly. Innovative growth and social economy need to work like the two wheels of the economic wagon.
Here, the social economy should not be limited to the social companies receiving government’s supports, and it is vitalized when the industries that employ socially vulnerable workers are developed or companies are committed to their social responsibilities.
“Food tech” incorporating food and ICT is highlighted as an industry that can achieve both innovative growth and social economy. Food tech is the new growth engine that can enhance declining traditional food and restaurant industries by integrating with ICT. It is especially important that these industries employ many socially weak people, as in small business owners. Food tech includes search, recommendations, delivery of food and grocery delivery and is expanding to smart farming, smart kitchens, restaurant infrastructure as well as functional food products and food substitutions.
The problem is that online-based food tech industry is applied the offline regulations. Online food ingredient retail and intermediary trade requires food production license according to the Food Sanitation Act, and start-up companies also need to own meat processing facilities and large meat refrigerators. Because they work as intermediary agents between producers and buyers, they don’t need to have processing or refrigeration facilities. This is an excessive regulation.
Experts predict that food tech industry will add 300,000 new jobs in the next 10 years. However, the 200-trillion-won ($187.2 billion) food tech market is trapped in various regulations. When a newly emerging industry like food tech is applied to existing offline regulations, appropriate industrial ecosystem cannot be created. The Moon Jae-in administration wants to create new jobs through innovative growth and consequent income-driven growth. Food tech is the industry that fits the bill.
*President of FoodTech Association