In part two of The Big Questions series, imagining the future of the food and beverage industry, we look ahead to what we could be consuming in tomorrow’s world
What will we be eating and drinking in the future? It’s the million-dollar question keeping the food and beverage industry on its toes. Everyone from manufacturers to market analysts is on the lookout for the next big trend or imagining how global changes will impact our diets. With a soaring population, changing demographics, urbanisation and growing environmental concerns, it’s understandable why we’re wondering what food and drink products to expect in the future.
Serving Gen Z
In the immediate future, it’s time for Millennials to move over. Generation Z is coming of age and is set to become the purchasing powerhouse of the global economy. Research has shown Gen Zers (typically born after 1995) to be more health conscious, more open minded and more international in their habits compared to Millennials, meaning we can expect some significant changes in the years ahead.
In fact, according to Mintel, Generation Z has the potential to reset expectations for health and wellness, increase the reach of international cuisine, and heighten creativity in the kitchen. This means we’ll likely see more healthy formulations based on fruits and vegetables, more internationally diverse ingredients and flavours, as well as more interactive products enabling creative experiences.
It’s relatively easy to predict what consumers will be eating within a few years but what about further ahead? Will our diets move into the realms of science fiction? Based on what we know now, food shortages will be a growing issue, so many will be looking to new sources of nutrition. Because of this, experts believe diets will be based on protein-rich insects and nutrient-dense algae. Both of which could offer sustainable alternatives to resource-intensive farming.
We’re already seeing the emergence of products containing algae, which in some studies has been shown to contain more calcium, protein, iron, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables. And with many experts predicting algae farming to become the world’s biggest cropping industry, it might not be long before we’re be eating and drinking algae in everything from beer and burgers to soups and smoothies.
Printing our food
As our understanding of the human body and genetic engineering reaches new levels, we can expect highly tailored and optimised eating. Not only could supermarkets be full of functional products designed to fit the nutritional profile of every kind of consumer, we could also see extremely customised products that are made to order in an instant.
With 3D printing advancing, it’s possible to imagine personalised printed foods with flavours, colours and ingredients based on our exact dietary needs or preferences. This technology could also revolutionise food distribution. Products may no longer be sent as physical objects but as data. We simply purchase a food or drink product online and print it out at home in seconds using our own 3D printers.
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