Facing the Food Transformation

The food and agricultural industries are changing quickly, with more massive disruptions up ahead, says Robin Himmels, co-founder of Eatclever and a Forbes "Under 30" listmaker.

The second half of the 20th century was the heyday of packaged, processed food, but a fundamental shift is underway. Millennials are now full-fledged adults, making up 40% of consumers, says Deloitte. The new shoppers are hyperconnected. They want to access services like they access data – instantly. On the other hand, the new generation practices mindful eating. They want their food to align with their values, to have a story they can share. Global trends are also a force for change. The UN predicts a 60% increase in global food demand by 2050. Resources will become tighter. How will we eat? According to the UBS report “The Food Revolution” changes in technology will bring us natural, abundant and affordable food. So what exactly is affected by the changes?

1. Diets are changing. Consumers’ habits are driving significant changes to the food market. Millennials and Gen Z’ers want green, organic food, free of pesticides, gluten, additives and sugar. Even as they become more urbanized, they want to feel closer to their food, having it fresher, less processed, and locally sourced. Vegan diets are on the rise and new technologies in plant-based protein production are already disrupting meat markets. Great examples are the plant-based unicorns Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Both saw tremendous growth this year with Beyond Meat’s stock quintupling.

Robin Himmels
... is a Forbes “Under 30” listmaker, who co-founded the company Eatclever in 2019, which implements healthy recipes developed by nutritionists but prepared by local, existing restaurants that are trained by Eatclever.

2. Food prep is changing. The Guardian reports that kitchens are shrinking as Millennials outsource food prep. It’s possible that by 2030, home cooked meals will be almost entirely replaced by food ordered online and delivered to consumers’ doors. Food delivery itself is quickly evolving, moving beyond merely providing a platform for existing takeout. The third wave of takeaway food is already here, lowering production costs, streamlining logistics, and keeping up with food trends through “dark kitchens”, kitchens that are dedicated to only putting out takeout food. Some companies are creating virtual restaurants, using existing kitchen infrastructure for lean, scalable systems. Eatclever, for example, grew from one to one hundred locations within four years. That would have been impossible with traditional restaurants.

3. Food is changing. Technology will bring health-conscious consumers real-time persona­lized nutrition solutions at their fingertips. 3D food printing is almost a reality, allowing customized food production for individual dietary needs. Lab-grown food is a possible solution to increased demand. Mosa Meat produces cultured meat grown from stem cells instead of slaughtered animals. Biotechnology is developing resistant crops that will feed more people using fewer resources.

So the future of food is already here, powered by tech innovations and greener and more sustainable than ever.

Author: Robin Himmels

The article was featured in our November edition 2019 „Next“.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Read more about Robin Himmels.

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