Masoni of OSU's Food Innovation Center Talks Foodtech


Arielle Feger | 8 Sep 2021

As the director of product and process development at Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center, Sarah Masoni works with food entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized food companies to help them get their specialty food or beverage brand off the ground.

Masoni, along with Jonathan Deutsch, professor at Drexel University and director of the Drexel Food Lab, will be participating in an education session during SFA’s Fancy Food 24/7 digital event, taking place September 27 – October 8. Their session, Will Foodtech Change What We Know About Making Food?, will take place Thursday, October 7 at 11:00 a.m. ET.

In a Q&A with SFA News Daily, Masoni shared information about OSU’s Food Innovation Lab and some or her favorite foodtech innovations.

How do you see technology and innovation impacting the specialty food industry in the next five to 10 years?
It’s happening right now! There are so many people that have worked in tech-based industry crossing over into food and implementing their engineering or design work to change and improve food manufacturing and distribution.

Can you share how Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Lab helps brands get started in the industry?
The Food Innovation Center specializes in product and process development, sensory and consumer research, as well as food safety and microbiology. My team focuses on the development aspects of food science by working with small- to medium-sized food companies to formulate their food ideas into reality. From a grandmother’s recipe to a well-researched innovation, we develop the actual food and design the rudimentary manufacturing requirements to implement into production. We work regionally and sometimes even internationally to assist people in bringing their food idea to reality.

What are some of your favorite foodtech inventions out there right now?
That’s a big question. I am excited to see innovation in what I call “alternatives.” I like to see what meat replacements, dairy alternatives, egg-free alternatives and new types of frozen desserts there are to try. Trying new foods that are based upon traditional commodities are also interesting and fun.

What has surprised you about the way the food industry has reacted to the pandemic?
The food industry surprised me in that it has been nimble and able to pivot to meet the distribution needs of our changing lifestyles. We have been resilient in adapting to shortages of ingredients and packaging materials. The food industry studies and understands the consumer through lots of research and record keeping, allowing manufacturers to change and adapt.

Related: Shook Kelley Co-Founder Discusses Future of RetailSFA to Facilitate Fancy Food 24/7 Buyer Preview.