The Food Trends of 2018 and Beyond
Tuesday 23rd January
With each passing decade, a new trend comes along that redefines how we dine and consume. What lies ahead for our current decade and beyond? We spoke to world-renowned Food Futurologist and Founder of her health product brand, Dr Morgaine Gaye, for a potted history of food over the last century and a look at things to come in the world of health, dining and beyond.
In the post-War 40s and 50s, when food was scarce, the weekly ration was a mainstay on the dining table and was conceived to do only one thing: fill bellies as economically as possible. Most government incentives in the Western world were focused on feeding the masses without running out of food.
When the 60s and 70s rolled along, the introduction of package holidays spun dining in an entirely new direction. For the first time, foreign travel became accessible to the average person and this launched the collective imagination as more people began to taste non-British food. This led to the era of food as aspiration and the rise of the dinner party as more households wanted to share and show off their new experiences. Food no longer served a purely utilitarian purpose and became a source of entertainment and a vehicle of social and cultural shifts.
The 80s took the aspect of entertainment even further with the explosion of food that was fun and a proliferation of novelty snacks. Fast forward to the present day and we can see how food has become so integral to our identity that we have even begun to define ourselves by our dietary preferences. Hands up if you’ve met somebody who has quickly introduced themselves in conversation as a vegan or as gluten free?
So what does the future of food hold? With the rise of health scares in the media and more consumer access to information we’ve entered an era where nutritional understanding is being democratised and people are demanding so much more from the food they eat. Dr Morgaine Gaye —world-renowned food futurologist—takes us on a whistlestop tour of what and how we are going to be eating in the future. As we exercise off the last morsels of 2017 with New Year’s resolutions abound and raise our plates up for a helping of 2018, Dr Gaye gives us a little taste of things to come.
Health – Fermentation, going sugar-free and DNA test kits
With more consumers taking note of their health and mortality, we are seeing far more of a focus on ideas of beauty coming from the inside and the importance of caring for the gut, with fermentation and pickling becoming must haves in any cook’s repertoire. Fermented foods in particular are gaining in popularity. Products like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha are rich in healthy gut bacteria like bifidophilus and acidophilus which promote gut health. It is not uncommon to see more of these fun and funky products hitting supermarket shelves, including the likes of Wild Fizz Kombucha and Tickles Pickles kimchi.
Saying ‘no’ to sugar
As sugar is increasingly becoming demonised and compared to the likes of illegal drugs such as cocaine, researchers will be turning to plants for alternative sweeteners that are not as damaging to consumers’ health. Alternatives like xylitol, jaggery, coconut sugar, beans and peas will become more popular.
Morgaine’s own health journey (she had a serious health scare in 2001 in which she thought she was going blind) combined with her extensive experience in food futurology and her busy lifestyle has led her to create her own Super range of nutritionally dense, organic, raw and sugar-free foods to help you get all of your daily minerals, vitamins, protein, fats and nutrients in an absorbable and easy way.
DNA health kits
A decade ago, having your DNA makeup tested would have set you back thousands of pounds. Today, with home test kit startups like DNAFit and 23andme commoditising this service, we will be seeing how people’s lifestyles and diets are shaped by better understanding of their genetic makeup and how it plays a part in their own personal wellbeing.
Embedded technology: Wearables and vending machines
In the age of on-demand convenience, vending machines are also experiencing an upgrade from their standalone operations. Vending machines that grow food so that you can have freshly picked food anytime you desire will become increasingly common. Restaurants will also soon be dispensing food purely from vending machines, without the need for human staff. The future of vending machines will also see new heights as they board airplanes, enabling passengers to help themselves to amenities without having to call for a flight attendant. The future will see more machines embedded with end-to-end functions to offer the best product to the consumer, at their convenience. Freshly made vending machine smoothie or cup noodles anyone?
Technology that can be embedded into a person via external applications has huge potential to contribute in the medical field. By analysing the body’s needs through wearables, such technology could cut down the need to physically visit the doctor’s for a checkup. This is specially useful for those who are unable or require assistance for mobility. Because eighty percent of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream, we will see more vitamins and medication administered via wearables on the skin. Wearables can also be used as health indicators, providing simple and clear indications of a person’s health status. Early research by MIT engineers has produced a 3D “living tattoo” made of genetically programmed living cells that could be used for detecting a variety of chemical and molecular compounds, administering therapeutic medicine or even acting as wearable computers in the future!
Cutting down on livestock: Vegan meats and insects
With innovations like the Impossible Burger and its endorsement by many celebrated chefs, meat-free burgers are one step in getting consumers to wake up and smell the sizzle. It’s a well documented and discussed fact that the earth cannot sustain our population growth on a diet subsisting primarily on meat. The strain on our resources and the resulting pollution has led the scientific and business community to seek non-meat alternatives. This need has seen innovation in the vegan meat sector as researchers look to plant-based alternatives like fava and soybeans, as new products that embody the idea of eating meat without really eating it. We will continue to see vegetarian ‘butcher’ shops appear around the globe, along with an increase in veganism, vegetarianism and flexitarianism.
Dr Gaye has been talking about insects for years but in many ways this ingredient is still viewed as a gimmick in the UK because of consumer squeamishness in relation to seeing food in its original form – appendages, faces and all – with consumers opting instead to buy items that dissociate completely from the animal itself (think pre-cubed chicken breast). The negative socialisation around insects – many think of them as dirty – does not help the case for eating insects and regulation in this area is complicated and inconsistent at best. In actuality, insects breed and grow exceedingly well in captivity. They do not require antibiotics to grow in confined spaces, nor do they require many resources to produce a high output of protein. As more insect innovators produce palatable insect-based products, it won’t be long now until insects become a diet staple.
Sustainability: Edible packaging, food waste, transport and logistics
In order to solve the havoc wreaked on the environment by non-biodegradable plastics, food producers and manufacturers are now looking towards edible packaging. We should look forward to seeing more compostable packaging that biodegrade back into the soil within eight weeks from production. Some innovators doing exciting things within this space include Skipping Rocks Labs with their Ooho Water, Loliware edible straws and edible wrappers by Evoware.
Instead of tackling food waste management, some very inventive folks are repurposing food production by-products to create innovative products instead. We are seeing biofuel come from waste coffee grounds, leather made from mushrooms and pineapple and delicious waste-free Snacts from surplus fruit. These innovations pave the way for even more entrepreneurs to see the treasure in trash.
Transport and logistics
New technology will push the limits of what food can do and how it will transform the supply chain. For instance, MIT has developed noodles that can shapeshift once in contact with water, thus making the logistics of food transportation more resource efficient and environmentally friendly. If food can be flat-packed like IKEA furniture, there is much disruption to be had in the logistics industry.
Playing with food: Textures and personalisation
In this hyper-competitive market, brands are constantly looking for new ways to cut through the noise and deliver memorable experiences to their consumers. Through 3D printing technology, brands will be offering more fun and personalised experiences to consumers. By Flow is already creating weird and wonderful foods with their 3D printer and we can expect loads more innovation in this space to come. Textures will also be making a big splash in the dining experience as brands are constantly trying to shake up how consumers experience and interact with their product. The nufood 3D printer for example lets you create playful and visual liquid flavour sensations in your food. Innovations like this could transform our relationship to food.
Dr Morgaine Gaye is a world leading Food Futurologist who looks at food and eating from a social, cultural, economic, trend, branding and geopolitical perspective. She is also founder of Dr Gaye which produce a range of healthy shakes, blends, mixes and snacks offer high-performance foods that deliver bio-available, food-grade nutrients and vitamins. Dr Gaye shared these insights during her keynote talk on the ‘The Hyper (R)Evolution of Eating’ Day of London Food Tech Week 2017.
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