European experts are working on the PERFORMANCE (Personalized Food for the Nutrition of the Elderly Consumers) project, which uses 3D-printing technology to create easy-to-swallow and nutritious 3D-printed meals for the elderly. Studies show that 60% of nursing home patients suffer from dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing - which leads to these patients being served unappetizing pureed food. The 3D-printed meals, while also soft and pureed in texture, are created with a Foodjet 3D food printer that can mimic taste and texture of real food while adding nutritional value. Each meal is "algorithmically organized" to provide each patient with the specific nutrients they need on a weekly basis. In the long run PERFORMANCE aims to cover the entire food supply chain, from food production to ready-to-eat meals.
The 3D-printed meals are now being tested in several nursing homes, and they have been well received by the patients. 54% found the texture good, and 43% choose PERFORMANCE meals when it comes to chewing and swallowing difficulties. Although they are still far away from commercial production, project coordinator Matthias Kuck is certain that they will hit the shelves in the next few years.