Genome-scale metabolic network reconstruction offers a means to leverage the value of the exponentially growing genomics data and integrate it with other biological knowledge in a structured format. Constraint-based modeling (CBM) enables both the qualitative and quantitative analyses of the reconstructed networks. The rapid advancements in these areas can benefit both the industrial production of microbial food cultures and their application in food processing. CBM provides several avenues for improving our mechanistic understanding of physiology and genotype–phenotype relationships. This is essential for the rational improvement of industrial strains, which can further be facilitated through various model-guided strain design approaches. CBM of microbial communities offers a valuable tool for the rational design of defined food cultures, where it can catalyze hypothesis generation and provide unintuitive rationales for the development of enhanced community phenotypes and, consequently, novel or improved food products. In the industrial-scale production of microorganisms for food cultures, CBM may enable a knowledge-driven bioprocess optimization by rationally identifying strategies for growth and stability improvement. Through these applications, we believe that CBM can become a powerful tool for guiding the areas of strain development, culture development and process optimization in the production of food cultures. Nevertheless, in order to make the correct choice of the modeling framework for a particular application and to interpret model predictions in a biologically meaningful manner, one should be aware of the current limitations of CBM.