An integral part of the food development game is being able to plot consumer trend routes and identify possible innovation areas for the years ahead. This means not only dealing with potential trends 18 months down the line but also keeping one eye on the future, with cultured meat and robots in restaurants two examples to have emerged of late.
Late last week, Bompas & Parr – a multi-sensory food and drink experience team – dropped their ‘Imminent Future of Foods 2020’ report, featuring a forecast of seemingly sci-fi food trends and innovations that might start to appear over the coming year.
The report claims to go beyond existing trend patterns and, through their work with technologists and biologists, identify “the smallest of seeds being sown that suggest a distinct, interesting and evolution in culinary, cultural and behavioural terms.”
Ranging from ultimate dish transparency to cognitive snacking, the release does stray into the outlandish at times, but the overarching trends touched on certainly make it food for thought.
Forgetting flavour and synchronising gut and brain
Texture is shaping up to be a big focus area this year, with a recent UK study finding direct links between consumer perceptions of health and the surface area and texture of food.
While the study, ‘Food Quality and Perception’, found that taste remained the standout driver in terms of purchasing for consumers, Bompas & Parr have predicted a move away from traditional perceptions of taste in the future, with mouth-feel to be the standout route for development teams as implants that transmit flavour profiles to the brain arrive on the scene.
The basis for this rather space-age forecast comes via Elon Musk, the tech entrepreneur, who’s pioneering Neuralink implants – which are said to bridge the gap between humans and computers - are set to undergo first human testing by the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, the report also claims that understanding the link between gut heath and the brain could be a next step for the burgeoning fermentation space.
Gut health is an area rife with experimentation, both in retail and in foodservice, with wellness a major consumer trend of late. Food Spark has recently discussed the potential opportunities for niche health benefits from food products, such as immune health, with Bompas & Parr suggesting that the gut health boom could the way forward.
Dreamy snacking and futuristic transparency
Nootropics hit the mainstream last year, with a number of innovative startups championing the idea of brain-aid snacking. Furthering the idea of brain food, Bompas & Parr predict a move towards snacking to help dreaming.
“In the future we will dive into the science of foods, the metabolic system and dreaming,” the report says.
“We will learn that, for example, foods with higher fats will induce slower paced yet indulgent dreams, whilst fat free but protein loaded foods such as algae will induce high energy dreams.”
Meanwhile, in foodservice, the report highlights the idea of component dining, with diners taken on a journey based on provenance and transparency, learning, for example, about butter churning, crockery creation and egg hatching through a series of experiences before finally sitting down to enjoy the finished dish.
“2020 could be the year of deconstructed, component part dining,” the report reads. “Full dining immersion, from harvesting earth’s materials to constructing your favourite dish.”
Bompas & Parr also point to the possibility of data-led dieting, with technological strides leading to computers being able to create specific food plans designed to individual needs based on real-time data.
“With the amount of data that is now collected on the human body and what we consume, we foresee that in the future, diets will become entirely personalised to the individual.”
Personalised nutrition is already becoming an important area for future development in the retail space, with Gurdeep Loyal, head of trends at Marks & Spencer, telling Food Spark that, already, “consumers see health as extremely personal and that they manage their nutritional health in their own way in terms of what’s important to them or their family.”