The future of food is about authenticity, wellness and relevance – traceability of supply chains, natural and organic ingredients, convenient and well designed packaging, and fantastic, inspiring taste
The UN estimates that by 2050 global food production will have to increase by close to 70% if we want to feed the world. This poses a real conundrum: How do we feed all those people healthy diets, in ways that don’t harm the planet?
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In some cases, innovators in this space are doing what was once science fiction. The outcome of these new technologies has profound implications for the human diet, the changing climate, and the global economy.
Caterpillars, seaweed and iPods
Splash out on dinner at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant, and you might find an iPod accompanies your seafood risotto. Sounds of the sea enhance the perceived freshness and flavours, and can also affect our sense of sweetness and saltiness.
Caterpillars, already popular in Africa, contain 28mg of protein per 100g, more than minced beef, and add 35mg of iron too. If you’re in search of a calcium boost, try grasshoppers.
Rising food prices, the growing population and environmental concerns make food one of the big debates for governments, and interest areas for investors. Meat production takes up huge amounts of land, consume water, diverts crops from humans, and adds to carbon emissions.
Insects, perhaps rebranding as micro-protein, could become a staple of our diets – low cost, requiring little space or water. With 1500 edible species, we could soon be tucking into nutrititous crickets and grasshoppers, ground into burgers. Wasps are a delicacy in Japan.
If you still want meat, your next steak could be sourced from a test-tube. Strips of muscle tissue using stem cells taken from cows, a little like calamari to look at, are grown in a lab, and then shaped to expectation, similar to existing meat substitutes such as Quorn.
Of course you could just become vegetarian, and still get a balanced diet.
Another source of improved eating, is sensory-engineering. Scientists have shown that look and smell affect how we taste. Condiment Junkie, a sonic-branding company is exploring how certain frequencies can compensate for sugar in foods, thereby improving health, as well as enhancing the whole cooking and eating experience.
However the most significant source of future food is likely to come from algae. 145 species of green, red, and brown seaweed is already eaten in huge quantities across Asia, often as a delicacy. Ground into other foods, its strong flavour can dramatically reduce the amount of salt used, for example in bread or prepared meals. Algae farming, for food as well as energy, could become the world’s largest crop industry by 2030.
However it is not just the food content that could radically change. It is also about embracing technology to deliver more personalised service and added value experiences. A great example comes from Singularity Sushi, which uses DNA analysis to ultra-personalise food, and 3D printing to produce objects of incredible beauty.
“Gamechangers” in the world of food range from those who are delivering science fiction like Aerolife’s breathable pizza, more profitable business models like Nespresso, to others who are turning commodities into brands like Zespri and richer experiences like Juan Valdez.
Meet the Gamechangers in Futurefood
% Arabica – Asian minimalism, African coffee roastery, and Arabic meeting place
"% Arabica is about my love for coffee, design, and seeing the world" says Ken Shoji, founder and CEO of % Arabica. Ken's story began in Tokyo, although I found him in Kuwait. "My father was the owner of a manufacturing and trading company, and together with his frequent business trips, they would take me overseas whenever possible – ultimately helping to inspire my love of multiculturalism, design, and architecture."
A Boring Life – Embracing CBD to relieve the stress and anxieties of a busy life
A Boring Life makes high quality, chef-curated natural snack foods infused with hemp extract to support a more relaxed lifestyle. Their first product line pairs high protein nuts, rich in Omega 3's with the calming properties of Hemp Extract/CBD. Add roasted almonds with lavender, dark chocolate & sea salt almonds and sweet & spicy walnuts, and much more too. They say they are here to offer a natural solution to the stress and anxiety of the modern world, by bringing forward a more boring way to live.
AeroFarms – Vertical farming in a crowded world
Aerofarms grow delicious, nutritious leafy greens and herbs without sunlight and soil. Crops get the perfect amount of moisture and nutrients misted directly onto their roots in a completely controlled environment. With patented technology, Aerofarms take indoor vertical farming to a new level of precision and productivity with minimal environmental impact and virtually zero risk.
Ava Winery – Turning water into wine ... including a $50 replica Dom Pérignon
Ava is a venture-backed food technology startup based in San Francisco creating synthetic wine without grapes or fermentation by analysing the molecular profile of wines to recreate and even perfect them. Ava's mission is to recreate the experience of wine without having to recreate the process of traditional winemaking, making the great vintages available to everyone.
Basmaty – The Arabic cookery community
Basmaty brings together the best ideas for cooking across the Middle East. The content-based community shares culinary ideas and inspirations from the regions top chefs and food entrepreneurs.
Brewdog – Beer for punks, irreverent and brilliant
James Watt and Martin Dickie were bored of the industrially brewed lagers and stuffy ales that dominated the UK beer market. Sat in their local Scottish pub, they decided the best option was to brew our own. In April 2007 BrewDog was born.
Deliveroo – Food delivered as fast as a kangaroo
Deliveroo is an online food delivery company stretching form the UK across Europe to Dubai, Australia, and Hong Kong. Orders are placed through the Deliveroo website and then self-employed bicycle or motorcycle couriers transport orders from restaurants to customers.
Gïk Live! – Blue wine from Spain
White, red or rose ... wines are presented in conventional options. But then a group of young students read Blue Ocean Strategy, and got inspired to create a blue ocean, of wine.
Graze – Snacking reinvented ... fast, healthy, delivered
Graze is a London-based snack company which offers over 200 snack combinations - including nuts, small puddings, and porridge - through snack subscription boxes, an online shop and retailers. It expanded operations to include the United States in 2013, launching snacks into US retailers in 2016. In 2012, The Carlyle Group bought a majority share holding in the business.
Halo Top Creamery – The Healthy Ice Cream from California
Can ice cream ever be healthy? Halo Top Creamery is attracting more ice cream lovers with a promise of lower calories and less guilt. Time magazine named it one of the best inventions of the year. Over the summer of 2017, it also became the best-selling ice cream in America, beating big names like Ben & Jerry's and Häagen-Dazs.
HelloFresh – Say "Hello" to easy home cooking
HelloFresh is on a mission to change the way people eat, forever. As the world's leading meal kit provider, they serve more than 13 million meals per month to over 1.3 million customers in 10 countries across 3 continents.
Impossible Foods – Can a burger save the planet?
Impossible Foods develops plant-based substitutes for meat products. Founded in 2011, and headquartered in Redwood City, California, the company's stated aim is to give people the taste and nutritional benefits of meat without supposed negative health and certain environmental impacts associated with livestock products. The company researches animal products at the molecular level, then selects specific proteins and nutrients from plants to recreate the experience and nutrition of specific meat products.
Juan Valdez Café – From commodity to premium branded experience
Most coffee growers make a few cents or every bag sold to consumers, even less for every cup drunk. Colombia’s farmers decided to create their own branded experience.
Kikkoman – Make haste slowly
Kikko, which means tortoise shell in Japanese, and man, meaning 10,000, were chosen first as the trademark and later as the company name. This was to symbolize longevity, as according to Japanese folklore a tortoise lives for 10,000 years. This symbolism is found in Kikkoman's logo, which is a rebus that consists of the Chinese character for 10,000 (萬 wàn) surrounded by a hexagon, representing a tortoise shell.
Lewis Road Creamery – New Zealand's best ice cream and milkshakes
If you’re going to set out to make the world’s finest dairy from a converted shipping container in the Bay of Plenty, it goes without saying you’re not taking the most conventional route. But conventions have never been something Lewis Road Dairy have been much of a fan of anyway.
Mayrig – Cooking up a passion for Armenian culture
Whilst most of Armenia is long gone, the culture lives on through traditional recipes and incredible food that brings people together to share incredible food, and explore the stories that sustained a nation, and now still inspires a global tribe.
Mikkeller – The world's largest craft beer company
Mikkeller is a microbrewery founded by Mikkel Bjergso in 2006 in Copenhagen, Denmark that was originally based on the so-called "cuckoo", "phantom" or "gypsy" ethos; that is, the company did not operate an official brewery and, instead, collaborated with other brewers to produce their recipes or experimental one-off brews
Nespresso – The business model with an extra shot
You might credit George Clooney with much of Nespresso’s brand appeal. But the money is in the pods. Whilst the coffee machines are sold at minimal prices, it is the addiction – or subscription – to the refills that drives profits.
New Roots – Swiss vegan cheese
New Roots, founded by Alice Fauconnet and Freddy Hunziker, is a Swiss producer of 100% plant-based cheese, following traditional cheesemaking techniques.
Ossian Vides y Vinos – Organic fusions of wines from Segovia
"Ossian is history through the vineyards, it is passion in its grapes, it is life in its soil and it is an illusion in its elaboration process" says Pedro Ruiz Aragoneses
Red Bull – Space jumps, air races ... energy drinks and media house
Red Bull changed the game of energy drinks. But it is much more than a drink, it’s a brand that reflects an attitude to life, and can therefore do more. In fact it has become a media company, with some of the world’s most extreme physical events, amplified as digital content. Not as a promotion for its drinks, but as the core business, with drinks on the side.
Supr Daily – Digitalised milk delivery in Mumbai
68% of milk in India is adulterated with water, detergent powder or worse products. Supr "direct to home connect" removes all middle men involved thereby ensuring that the milk your family drinks is not tampered. Milk, bread, eggs, curd, paneer, coconut water, dosa batter, buttermilk and many more daily needs. Many customers plan their entire week the the online schedule, easily setting all your daily needs on auto pilot.
The A2 Milk Company – Better fresh milk
The a2 Milk Company was founded in New Zealand in 2002 by Dr. Corran McLachlan after a scientific discovery; while studying at Cambridge University, Corran learned that proteins in milk affect people differently.
The East India Company – Recreating the exotic luxuries of empire
The East India Company was the world's first multinational company, dominating world trade for centuries. It made a wide range of elusive, exclusive and exotic ingredients familiar, affordable and available to the world; ingredients which today form part of our daily and national cuisines. Today it continues to develop and market unique and innovative products that breathe life into the history of the brand.
Too Good To Go – The end of food waste
Too Good To Go is a mobile app that connects customers to restaurants and stores that have unsold, surplus food, and is available in major European cities. The company was created in 2015 in Denmark by Brian Christensen, Thomas Bjørn Momsen, Stian Olesen, Klaus Bagge Pedersen, and Adam Sigbrand. In 2017, Mette Lykke joined as CEO.
It is a Social Impact company, and B Corp certified as of 2020. It is now the world's largest B2C marketplace for surplus food and restaurants, cafés, supermarkets, bakeries, canteens and wholesalers in 14 countries connect with users of the app to save perfectly good food from going to waste.
However food waste is a global challenge in need of many solutions, and so their Movement Against Food Waste works with businesses, households, schools and public affairs to have real, tangible impact. One third of all food produced is wasted, landfill is overflowing and the environmental impact is real, with food waste accounting for 8-10% of all CO2 gases in the world. The companies says we need to rediscover our respect for food, and the resources that went into producing it - the land, water, and labour.
Vinomofo – Australian wine lovers community
Vinomofo is all about good wine, real people, and the most epic wine deals on the planet. Founded by André Eikmeier and Justin Dry in 2011 from an Adelaide garage, the business sources and sells wines that they drink and they think members will love too. “We represent a revolution against the bowties and bullshit of the wine snobs and posers who think wine is for the chosen few elite and educated. It’s not. We think everybody should be able to enjoy good wine, without feeling intimidated”
Zespri – Redefining the Chinese gooseberry as the Kiwi fruit
Kiwi fruit are a great example of market creation. Zespri, owned by New Zealand growers, shows how to build premium brands that increase the market size, whilst also capturing disproportionate value, and what might otherwise be a commodity market.
Zingerman’s – A passion for food, and for people
Zingerman's is a community of eight food-related businesses all located in the Ann Arbor, MI area. "Our mission is to share the Zingerman’s experience selling food that makes you happy giving service that makes you smile in passionate pursuit of our mission showing love and caring in all our actions to enrich as many lives as we possibly can."