As 2023 draws to an end, the team at FoodBev Media shares their thoughts and predictions for the food and beverage industry over the coming year. Take a look at what’s on the menu for 2023.
Richard Hall, chairman
I’m convinced there are four food and beverage megatrends that will dominate change in the next 20 years. The first is plant-based. This is a lifestyle choice about the planet and animals, as well as about health and taste. For some, it will be either/or. For most, it will be and/and. I am a lifelong enjoyer of meat and dairy, but I am now enjoying many more plant-based meals. I expect to remain in the majority and not become a minority.
The second is cell-based. I believe science will enable us to have all the natural nutrition of normal food, but with fewer concerns about climate or animals. It will be a compromise, of course. Science is a concern too. So is cost. Over time, however, lab-based food will become widely accepted as a valuable and significant alternative.
The third is vertical farming. This has enormous advantages of being natural, local, fresher and more nutritious, while also substantially reducing land and water use, as well as eliminating risks from heatwaves and flooding, seasonality and pesticides. Once it has achieved energy efficiency from renewable sources and cost comparability, it can take off as a complement to other forms of farming and food production across a much wider range of products.
The fourth is personalised nutrition. We each have our own needs. These change at different stages of our lives. We already have individually prescribed medicine. We are moving towards a time when we can prescribe ourselves more individually tailored diets for pleasure and health. The biggest medical learning of my lifetime has been the importance of food in quality of life. The future will help us to put that into action.
Chiara Marangon, account manager
Advances in digitisation, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the Internet of Things, will start penetrating more areas of the food and beverage industry – and sometimes in the most unlikely of places. Finnish company Valio recently developed a low-sugar milk chocolate bar based on AI analysis of over a million consumer insights. ‘The Bar’ combines all the changing preferences of people’s cravings while having 30% less sugar.
“We wanted to unravel the most delicious and hidden desires of milk chocolate fans,” said Valio’s senior vice president, Timo Pajari. “By connecting the capabilities of AI, human craftsmanship and design with our milk powder know-how we were able to create the chocolate of the future.”
Meanwhile, premium rum brand Dictador showed it was tech-forward when it hired the “world’s first” AI robot CEO in a global company. The new CEO – a female robot called Mika with human-like attributes, incorporating AI – emphasises the growing passion for new technology that underlines the industry’s movements and offers positive disruption. I hope to see more innovative uses of AI and new technologies in 2023.
Gwen Jones, news reporter
We will see plenty of innovation in food and beverage packaging over the next year. This year, Nestlé-owned confectionery brand Quality Street started making changes to its single-wrap chocolates, claiming that it would ultimately keep 2 billion wrappers a year out of landfill by moving nine of its 11 sweets to paper-based packaging.
PepsiCo-owned Walkers made an investment of £14 million in sustainable food packaging solutions to save 250 tonnes of virgin plastic annually. The crisp brand also invested in a new stretch film to cover pallets before distribution to retailers. Produced using nanotechnology, the tiny air bubbles in the film reduce the amount of plastic used.
Meanwhile, Aunt Bessies added NaviLens technology to its packaging, in a move to support visually impaired shoppers. NaviLens technology uses tags on the packaging to provide audible product information and navigation. The tags are read through an app and can be accessed without focus and up to 12x further away than ordinary QR codes. In 2023, more companies will make it their mission to provide a gateway to a more inclusive shopping experience.
Jake Targett, new business executive
With a growing focus on sustainability and combatting food waste, upcycling is quickly becoming a creative way for companies to not only reduce the number of products and byproducts that end up in landfill but also to invent new products with added value.
Companies such as Outcast Foods divert food waste from landfill and turn discarded fruit and vegetables into products such as protein powders and dietary supplements. The company’s upcycling technology makes use of rejected, surplus and out-of-date produce from farms, food processors and grocers. Rum made from banana peels, beer fermented with stale bread, cashew apple byproducts turned into plant-based meats…there’s much to get excited about in the world of upcycling.
Rafaela Sousa, news reporter
Unique food formats are evolving. From Little Moon’s bite-sized mochi ice cream balls to Yili’s drinkable cheese pouches, companies from all corners of the industry are really starting to think outside the box. Frozen yogurt sticks, fruit and vegetable crisps, kefir bars, and functional smoothie ice cubes are just some of the recent launches that are playfully entering the aisles. Convenience is a key trend that will continue to drive development in this area. I expect many more innovative shapes and formats to come in the near future.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2023