Is the food & beverage industry innovative? Is there going to be a large upheaval in the future or will the Food & Beverage industry only change selectively? Nutrition expert and author Hanni Rützler answers this question in the Food Report 2017.
She has sketched out seven developments that could change the industry: New Flavoring, Convenience 3.0, Brutally Local, Beyond Food, Sea and More, Californication and Essthetik in catering. The author is certain that some of these trends will remain in the realm of science fiction, others however – particularly those driven by startups – can change the way we eat and the way we do business.
Is the food chain changing or are we only seeing popup innovations?
The traditional food chain, from the farmer to the consumer is changing, and not just as a result of start-ups, but also through new technologies and cross-over innovations. However, it is still questionable as to whether this is really a "changing chain" or whether the innovations are just short lived pop-up innovations that are destined to vanish just as quickly as they have surfaced. The Food Report 2017 reports about technology-aided delivery services, new catering models, such as pop-up restaurants or food start-ups that establish new networks by circumventing the food industry and wholesale. "Not all, probably even just a few of the new models that are currently initiated by start-ups actually work in real life. But these few models can introduce new developments to which established businesses are forced to respond", says Rützler.
I find the trend to more convenience particularly exciting. Consumers are constantly placing more value on high-quality food, they enjoy cooking, but do not want to spend too much time doing it. This was already very clearly reflected in the food report for the German market. This is where consumer convenience technology such as Thermomix, intelligent ovens, cooking apps, convenience products such as pre-cut vegetables and convenience services, such as Rent-a-Cook or Third-Place-Cooking come to the forefront. For manufacturers and trade there is huge potential with new products and integrated solutions to increase their sales and their margins in particular.
The New Flavoring trend is a development that also sounds very promising. Taste is increasingly turning into an experience. Rützler sees here a "Renaissance of the old, wild and absurd". This is where the latest technologies meet with the rediscovery of traditional preparation methods. If one observes the increased offering of food over the past decades, you can be pretty certain that this trend is one that is continuing. It remains to be seen whether this shall apply for the mass market or whether it will stay put in the premium segment market.
A further development I feel that is worth mentioning is the trend to local products. Regional food has been in demand for quite some time, due to short logistical paths and cultural proximity; so to say as a response to the globalization of the food sector. Regional cuisine also affords benefits in terms of sustainability. According to the author, the evolutionary loop will continue to turn toward local products and recipes in line with seasonal availability. Producers are therefore well advised, to not just take regionality into consideration in their marketing activities but to also ensure this by means of certificates and proof of origin.
About the Food Report 2017
The Food Report is published by the Zukunftsinstitute [Future Institute] in Frankfurt in cooperation with the Lebenzmittelzeitung [The Food Magazine]. In her 118-page report, Hanni Rützler provides a sketch of the most important trends in the food and beverage industry. The Food Report was published for the fourth time in 2017. It is available here: Food Report.