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The Innovation Group, the innovation and futurism unit of J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, has predicted some of the key trends for the food and beverage industry of the future.
In its latest trends report, which also includes statistical data from Sonar, it made findings such as that more than half of US and UK millennials use technology such as apps and wearables to maintain a healthy diet.
Innovation Group worldwide director Lucie Greene said: “Today’s food and drink consumers are more sophisticated than ever before. Our research shows that both US and UK consumers are placing increasing importance on food and drink as an experiential luxury and reflection of their personal identity. We also found that millennials, despite their well-documented economic challenges, are demanding higher-quality food, visual stimulation, and technologically enhanced experiences.”
Trends for the future of the food and drink industry
Food and health coming together
Health-conscious millennials are gravitating toward healthier mixers and combining exercise with hedonism when it comes to alcohol.
Greene said: “We’re seeing a big convergence between categories and treatments in food and drink – it’s fuelling not only creativity but also inspiring a raft of new hybrid categories. In our Culinary Cocktails trend, we look at how increasingly the mixologist world is borrowing from Michelin starred chefs to innovate – using fat washes and sous vide treatments. Beauty and food categories are also borrowing from each other. Hemsley + Hemsley are creating rich desserts made from coconut oil and avocado, extolling the virtues not just for health, but skin and nails. New food products are appearing with skincare and well-being language or properties. You’re also seeing new players enter the food space. Farfetch, a fashion retailer, launching Farfetch Curates Food is a testament to how food and fashion are increasingly intertwined in the minds and passions of consumers.”
Technology changing the way we eat
Ordering takeaways on a smartphone is old news, the Innovation Group said. The future promises curated delivery, delivery-only restaurants and even zero-cost delivery by self-driving car. But ordering food on your smartphone has its place in the evolution of ordering technology – the company cited research showing that more than 60% of UK millennials agreed that online food delivery services made meal preparation much easier for them, compared with only 21% of boomers, as evidence of this.
Last month, we reported on a survey that claimed the way in which we ordered food was directly influencing the cuisines we opted to eat. The researchers said that “more traditional takeaways such as fish and chips and Chinese are missing out – as a lack of delivery services and online ordering deter the next generation of takeaway consumers”.
And Lucie Greene added: “Like most aspects of our lives now, food and drink is being impacted by new strides in technology – from clever kitchens that can create menus for us intuitively based on leftover ingredients on our kitchen table; to image-sensitive apps that can assess the nutritional value of a piece of food from a photo; to a proliferation of food delivery apps that bring gourmet, curated, vegan and personalised menus to our doors within 30 minutes. The digital landscape of social media and sharing platforms meanwhile is providing a rich plethora of instant, detailed information about sourcing and ingredients, meaning that all our food choices will become much more informed and, not only that, regulated by the crowd. Brands will have to embrace a new era of ultra-transparency or risk being caught out.”
The rise of “post-artisan”
The cloying cocktails of the 1970s and ’80s – long considered passé – are now making a comeback, as mixologists reinvent them for sophisticated, modern palates.
“Cocktail classics of yesteryear, long relegated to the dustbin of cheesy nightclubs, are being reinvented with a gourmet twist, unapologetically celebrating the synthetic hues of retro ingredients such as crème de menthe and blue curaçao. Meanwhile, even the wine category is being treated with a wink: see hit Instagrammer The Fat Jew… and his hit sensation White Girl Rosé, which launched this year.”
Sharing our food with others
Awash with food imagery on social media platforms such as Instagram, consumers are gravitating towards increasingly surprising and compelling food imagery that aims more for the mind than the stomach, the Innovation Group claimed. 72% of British and American millennials are likely to share pictures of their food and drink if it is different or unique, compared with just 22% of boomers.
“After years of over-laboured ‘artisan’ and visceral rustic ‘food porn’ imagery, we’re seeing a new modern, playful, quite irreverent approach to food and drink emerging. New environments are moving beyond ‘authentic craft’ visual cues to embrace new clean, futuristic, colourful stylings. Creative food photographers are presenting food in unexpected, graphic and surreal ways,” said Lucie Greene.
Cannabis in beverages
A wave of marijuana legalisation in the US has freed beverage startups to experiment with tetrahydrocannabinol infusions, as well as non-intoxicating hemp concoctions.
Nearly three quarters of consumers surveyed across the millennial, generation X and boomer generations agree that marijuana will be as socially acceptable as alcohol over the next decade.
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