Have you ever wondered what the future of food looks like? If you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t. But when I come to think about how much food types, food groups, lifestyle, diet habits and restaurants, cafes and fast food has changed over the years – it’s actually scary to think what food might become.
A few weeks ago I attended a breakfast hosted by Chr. Hansen. Who is Chr. Hansen – they’re a global company who produce natural ingredients for the food, beverage, dietary supplement and agricultural industries.
When it comes to food, many of us have our preconceived ideas about what’s “good” and what’s “bad” for us – most likely coming from our family beliefs, or those around us. As we grow older, we start to gather other ideas, from the media, from supermarkets, packaging, and those around us. Many of us choose to stick to what is comfortable – you see change is uncomfortable and changing what and how we eat is hard for most of us.
The notion of the breakfast was discussing key research and insights that gives us an idea of what food and health looks like over the next ten years. The Director of Corporate Strategy & Business Development, Kelli Hayes was educational and insightful and the research Chr. Hansen had conducted was more interesting that I thought it was going to be!
How we view food & health
The research talked a little about what I mentioned earlier and how we form our thoughts about food & health – our awareness, beliefs and values and how we see the world around us. We value foods based on their perceived ‘goodness’, and preferences are initially based on family preferences.
Ultimately this forms the five value drivers which we use to inform our decisions on purchasing foods, these being tasty, healthy, convenient, authentic and safe.
What the food industry thinks
Basically they know that consumers want FRESH FOOD, a long shelf life – but not too long that it becomes weird when something lasts ages! And last but not least, there are no good replacements for salt. As consumers (you and I) know we can find sodium and/or sugar in just about every packaged product on the supermarket shelf!
Food trends of the future?
The Chr. Hansen team conducted a study/project on ‘future innovations’ in food, in a way of trying to predicting the future of food trends across the world.
This study found that all we’re in search of is real food – and the dilemma of negotiating our desire for ‘real food’ against those values (tasty, healthy, convenient, authentic and safe) – and the trade-off’s we have to play.
“Negotiating these drivers results in people facing difficult dilemmas and contradictions. For example, ‘consumers’ [you and I] think it’s difficult to find food that is both healthy and convenient – since eating healthy requires extra time and energy that people are hard-pressed to find,” says Hayes.
The study presented companies like Sprig in the USA that are redefining cost effective, fast-food that’s healthy and quick. Or Soylent – a meal replacement type product for people who want tasty but efficient food.
It was super interesting hearing about different cultures and what they expect from their foods & health, but overall – we all just want honesty and transparency when it comes to what we eat.
So what’s next?
Basically you and I want to develop healthy habits – and they look different from person to person. Generally, we value healthy (nutritious, organic and fresh) products – some preferring to purchase organic food. Which is a big driver in food of the future – the discussion around genetically modified foods (GMO) versus organic and the impact organic farming has on agriculture, regulatory impacts, labelling etc.
We also want safe food in the long term (so we don’t get cancer) and short term (will I get food poisoning from this, or will my children get sick)?
Food also has to be tasty. You don’t have to look far to see an example of this, just look at the rise in “raw” treats, rather than a chocolate bar for example – food may be perceived as healthier, but it still has to be tasty.
Convenience is also becoming increasingly popular. As we become busier, our lives more compartmentalised, food needs to be easy to plan, purchase, consume and clean up. Again look at online grocery shopping as an example or the rise in food/meal plan boxes.
Last by not least, what we eat has to be authentic and understandable. It comes back to the fact more and more of us want to know what is in our foods and understand the labels and relate it back to what’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us.
No matter what your values are – stick to them and do your research! What you’re putting into your body is fuelling it for a task at hand, that’s really what food is = fuel. My opinion is enjoy a well-balanced diet, eat lots of delicious greens, eat protein (whatever the source is for you) to keep your muscles strong, eat some form of carbohydrates for energy and enjoy a treat or two!
Beware of scams, fad diets, and nutritional claims and last but not least, lick the beaters next time you’r baking a cake! ;)
North of Here was invited to attend this breakfast by Chr. Hansen. We always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics, services or products.