On 13th November we unveiled our 2019-20 Food and Beverage Trends foresight - 12 mega trends, 5 social and cultural drivers, 60+ trend manifestations and 12 inspirational speakers to bring trends to life.
What were the big take outs? Over and above the detail of the 19-20 trends framework, here are 7 key take outs from the event.
The New Food Revolution – Charles opened with his thoughts on The New Food Revolution "We're at the beginning of a new food revolution. Earlier food revolutions changed the course of human history and this one will be no different".
"Today's explosion of information technology and mobile connectivity, has unleashed a global conversation about needs, values, priorities and aspirations around food and drink and associated systems. Consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it was grown and prepared, and how good — or bad — it is for them, society and the planet."
"As a result, it's imperative that we embrace fundamental new approaches to food and drink. At the same time, and quite apart from addressing critical issues facing our industry, consumers are embracing innovation in food and food experiences as never before. From experimentation with global flavours to embracing new products, as well as restaurant, hospitality, and retail concepts that completely challenge the proven models and categories. Consumers have indicated their willingness and eagerness to engage with food as never before".
The Importance of Experience – In a world where we're looking for 'better than wow', experience is critical. In the search for more extreme and exciting food experiences, it is this uniquely stimulating "language of sensorially" that is being drawn upon. Technology is focused increasingly on moving beyond sight and sound and towards stimulating all the senses. In food this translates as continued boundary pushing, in format, flavour and composition.
Ian Cranna from Starbucks spoke about the 'Phy-gital Experience', where the interactive wall within the store and dedicated app interplay with the theatre of Fire & Ice at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Milan as well as the all-important story, the emotional connection with local people, local craft and local purpose.
Jamie Spafford from SORTED Food commented on the rise of the immersive cooking experience and how the mobile phone has become integrated into the entire home cooking process from inspiration and preparation to cooking and eating. Consumers are now looking for food experiences that go beyond the photo into video that they can start, stop and comment on.
Alessandro Finetto from Whirlpool Group similarly opined how our requirements of the kitchen of the future will focus on the experience, but that these requirements will require flexibility – how we'll share, automate, monitor and customise our food into the future – as we develop an increasing diversity of needs that change from moment to moment, day to day. Whilst the kitchen used to be sole preserve of food preparation and cooking, it now must become simultaneously a work space, a place to spend time with the family and friends, a place to eat, a place to surf the internet and possibly a place to sleep. In the kitchen of the future, appliances will become more akin to furniture than machines.
The unstoppable rise of PLNT PWR eating – 1 in 8 of us are now vegetarian or vegan, whilst a further 21% of us identify as flexitarian. Plant-based will only continue to get stronger as consumers turn to eating plants as opposed to animals. Far from being unusual, this will increasingly be considered a logical switch and a relatively easy target for most to attain (at least for some of the time).
Elizabeth Cherry from Manhattanville College, NY explained how the trifecta of animal welfare, personal health and environmental consciousness are driving the plant base 'cool' factor. Liz also shared studies that demonstrated by labelling and naming dishes sumptuously, including meat substitutes in familiar dishes and incorporating vegetarian or vegan meals in with regular dishes on menus or on shelves all served to increase the appeal and propensity to purchase.
Jamie Spafford, Kateline Porritt from thefoodpeople and Georgia Green from Georgia's Cakes spoke of the meteoric rise of Plant-Based, Vegan and Vegetarian Foods within their spheres of influence. Dominic Cools-Lartigue from Street Feast noted that in his new venture, London Assembly, there would even be a much greater focus on vegan food and traders.
Food is the heart of social definition – What and where you eat and drink is defining you and your digital self. Jamie Spafford commented "it's a social currency and if you're rich in social food equity you're defined as a 'gastrosexual' (aka one who strives for the latest and most unique food and drink experiences)"
Charles Banks made the point that "For maximum Insta-appeal and food and drink needs to surprise, to violate one's expectations, to provide an intrigue in a striking context or shocking element to give that all important social stand out"
Georgia Green explained how social media has had a huge effect on the world of cakes: "Instagram is why baking is cool again". The look is as, if not more, important that the taste. The looks of the moment in cake include, drip, naked drip, concrete effect, oil paint, water colour, gem stones and florals/foliage all effects that lead on visual appeal.
Paying it Forward – Charles introduced our mega trend of Blue Planet by saying '"Globalisation has been considered culturally as a broadly positive collective development, but globalisation has a number of downsides. Every day we are witness to news of how choices made in one corner of the world are having drastic and, at times, irreversible consequences on another corner of the planet we share. News of coral reefs dying, microplastics spreading across the world's oceans and waterways has brought home just how mundane everyday choices like buying plastic bags or cotton buds are affecting the planet".
"The attitude of 'my actions alone don't make any difference' is changing and as a result we are seeing increased conscious-driven and self-sacrificing behaviour. The various ways in which people are doing their bit all centre on the idea of them suppressing their true desires and overcoming their natural aversions such as eating food waste or cultured meat".
It is developments within this area that we expect to see the greatest drivers of revolution from managing domestic waste more efficiently to developing evermore sophisticated plant-based or lab-grown meat.
Many of our speakers discussed how looking 'beyond the bottom line' and having a genuine 'purpose beyond profit' is critically important. Alex Head from Social Pantry spoke passionately not only about her rewarding work with ex-offenders across her workforce, but also proactively minimising food waste and feeding the homeless.
Glo-cal Inspiration – Drawing on local inspiration, even if in a global context, evolved as a key theme throughout the day. From applying local flavours or cuisine to global food formats such fried chicken to the rise of truly global cuisine, where dishes have no geographical roots but instead seamlessly transition between multiple cuisines, geographies and cultural references all in one dish or under one roof.
Dominic Cools-Lartigue spoke of the inspiration that he's found within Hackney's food microclimate. Whether it's East or West African, Middle Eastern, Italian, Spanish, French, Hackney has it all – 'look and you'll find produce, suppliers, customers and a story to tell too'.
Also identified were cuisines from across the globe expected to cause a stir in 2019 – East & West African, Modern Indian, Regional Chinese, Middle Eastern and Russian, Eastern European and 'Stan' food. The broadening of the cuisines definition beyond just geographical and cultural boundaries also included Zero Waste, Plant Based and Global, as 'cuisines' of real influence.
Tribal Food Culture – "Do you want to be in my tribe?" Amelia Boothman from IHQ commented "Food is increasingly the expression of self, identity and – by extension – community. People are looking for their tribe and food is a way in. It's easy to see how people can bond over products from their shared histories or ingredients native to their homes. Pop culture plays a big part in both selfhood and food, bringing with it a bucket load of nostalgia".
Charles stated "Whereas 'serious tribes' are dominating everyday life more than ever in living memory, the tribes emerging in food culture are paradoxically more inclusive and centre on vague and fuzzy notions of Britishness, indigenous heritage, generational throwbacks and our insatiable appetite for a food and drink event (from street food to street party!) - they all serve to construct a positive social meaning around food in times of uncertainty".
Jamie Spafford spoke of his tribe, SortedFood an online community hungry for the latest in food and drink conversation and content, with a global reach of over 2.5 million millennial / gen-z members and a daily engagement of 400k users (who spend on average over 7 minutes interacting with their food content).