(The first ever report our founder, James Wallman, delivered on trends and the future was about food, way back in 2004. So we've been covering this area for more than a decade.)
These are the most important mega-trends affecting the future of food.
Everything that happens is shared. This means you have to have a story to share…
… And that story has to look good.
Instead of looking for happiness, identity and status in material goods, people are increasingly finding happiness, identity and status in experiences instead. (This is the central thesis of the book, Stuffocation, by the founder of The Future Is Here.)
Example of a new app helping people share even more effectively — Foodie:
Despite our world offering us ever better standards of living, we always seek more. So as life gets better, our expectations are ever higher.
Just as there was a time when people put an “e-“ in front of things to make them sound current, the word of these days is “smart”. Thanks to everyware, algorithms, and a belief in better, we now aim to live “smart” — from how we spend our money to how we heat our homes and what we eat. Consider the rise of:
People are genuinely worried about having too much stuff, their materialistic lifestyles, and their impact on the environment and the climate. Even Apple has created a robot that takes old iPhones apart to reduce e-waste. (See our report on The Future of Business.)
The big revolution that affected food in the 20th century was directly associated with food. The Green Revolution solved many of the world's issues with feeding people. The revolution that will affect food in the 21st century is also technological: but this is the platform revolution, where technology is making it possible to directly connect producers and consumers.
As a result, some of the biggest names in food in 2016 aren’t even food companies. They’re tech-driven, on-demand delivery services — from Google to uberEats and Amazon — and they’re set to cause major disruption to the food industry.
For the consumer, this means every one of their favourite restaurants can deliver. For the restaurants, it means more orders, with very little extra marketing effort and distribution investment. And for the platforms it means lots and lots of data: where people, when they eat, what they eat, how often etc.
In their leisure time, people want to escape their digital work lives, and do something with their hands. They also want to show off to friends that they are interesting, cultured people. A great way to do this is to make your own food. But people lead busy lives… the solution is brands creating ready-to-cook kits.
Phil Lempert, the guru of food predictions, says that 2016 will bring celeb chef-driven meal kits and we'll see some brands consolidate to create the Amazon of meal kits.
The ideals of new Nordic cooking — simple, natural, local — will continue to take the world by storm.
One of the fastest growing areas of CES (the Consumer Electronics Show,, the western world’s largest tech show, held in Vegas in January each year), is the digital health section, covering gadgets like wearables. What will this mean for food? In the long run, it'll mean a lot.
Move over meat. Vegetables are becoming hot.
Result: root-to-stem dining and the Vegetable Forward restaurant movement.
The vegetable version of nose-to-tail movement, which also means using parts of the vegetable previously put in the bin
Where meat is the side dish, and vegetables are the hero.
Concern for the environment, coupled with an increasing realisation of the waste that comes with mass production and mass consumption, is heralding a new movement where people want less waste. Consider:
Pop-ups and food trucks keep popping up and parking up — making it easy, cheap, and low-risk for chefs and food entrepreneurs to try out new flavours (and flavour combinations) on foodies who are risk-friendly. Armed with Instagram and perhaps Foodie — the app that makes your food snaps look better — these new foodies will try anything once.
Like this from London, January 2016:
“Street food is showing no signs of slowing down, although healthier options are likely to take over in 2016 with more vegetable-based dishes. East Asian cuisine from Thailand and Laos is perfect for this because it provides fuller-flavoured dishes that are fast, fresh and soulful with lots of vegetables and herbs.” — Saiphin Moore, co-founder and head chef of Rosa's Thai Café, which started out as a stall in Brick Lane, east London.
We first noticed the phenomenon, and coined the term "Gourmet Junk", back in 2010 (in a report for Jameson whiskey). With the role of self-promotion and self-expression through social media becoming ever stronger, this nostalgia for old style foods is set to continue for some years. At present, there is a noticeable shift from sophistication to irony.
As people become aware of the problems with modern processing methods, they are re-discovering age-old processes.
Kraft Heinz created ‘biggest blind taste test in history’.
They went public in March with an ingredient change for its macaroni and cheese recipe, which it has been secretly trialling since December 2015.
New recipe contains no artificial flavours, preservatives or dyes
On 7 March the food brand officially launched its new macaroni and cheese recipe with an advertising campaign entitled It’s Changed. But It Hasn’t.
The new recipe is healthier strategy, as it now contains no artificial flavours, preservatives or dyes.
The company deliberately deceived its audience to work out whether introducing the new recipe affected the flavour.
After the change, Kraft Heinz did not publicise the new recipe except for listing the ingredients on the reverse of the box. Then it monitored the brand’s social media feeds and sales figures to make sure that there was no customer outcry. After a number of weeks, all remained quiet and people continued to buy the product as usual.
Reflecting a trend we've heard called "Coca-Cola is routinely urged by health experts and anti-obesity campaign groups to do more to tackle obesity rates worldwide. Often threatened with soda tax to convince people not to buy their products.
In response, Coke has launched new variants and introduce smaller cans as well as promote healthier lifestyles in both its marketing and sponsorships.
Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola’s chief executive last month penned an article in the Wall Street Journal in which he pledged the company will “do a better job” of being transparent about its research into sugar after being accused of deceiving the public about its support of scientific research.
“We will also continue our work to provide more choices, in smaller pack sizes, in more communities—waters, lower-calorie and lower-sugar drinks, diet soda and zero-calorie drinks,” he added.
McDonald’s gave its Happy Meal box a 21st-century makeover to keep the brand relevant to today's smartphone-owning pre-teens
With fold lines and perforations, the Happy Meal container can be turned into a DIY virtual reality headset
They also created a game to be used with the Happy Goggles. The game, Se Upp I Backen ("Watch out on the slopes"), is a ski game which, according to McDonald’s, has been endorsed by the Swedish national skiing team ahead of the Swedish holiday Sportlov, when it is traditional for families to go on skiing trips.
‘It is our mission to ensure that the world’s most famous box will continue to be magical and relevant to families for another 30 years,’ says a statement on the company’s website. ‘The Happy Meal simply must move with the times.’
Peru's ceviche is catching on. Alongside it, we'll see poke — pronounced poke ay and poh key. It's a Hawaiian mainstay that's migrating to the mainland. Basically a bowl of chopped or cubed raw fish (traditionally ahi tuna over seaweedseasoned rice ... the fish tossed in a capriciously composed marinade: soy sauce, macadamia nuts, green onion, seaweed, avocado, mango, sesame oil, ginger, chiles of varying degrees of heat, numerous Japanese seasoning blends ... you can see where this might lead directly to kale and tofu. Pokerias are cropping on the West Coast and 10 ahi is giving way to octopus, scallops, salmon, blue fin. The dish is all over Los Angeles. You also can find it at Laid Back Poke Shack in Salt Lake City. Boston's new Hojoko at the Verb Hotel ... by the hot-hot O Ya team ... has tuna poke with chile water, roasted macadamia dressing and avocado. Seamore's ... an offshoot of New York's Meatball Shop ... ha
Haha! What we mean is: snacks are on the rise.
And they're set to shift from sweet, sugar-y treats, to good-for-you, protein.
To hear what this means for you, get in touch.
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