Visions of the Future

Bugs, biomeat and our internal biosphere – this year’s Food Vision offered a fascinating glimpse of our culinary destiny.

Remember that day at school, when your teacher asked you to imagine what life would be like in the future? It’s a pretty standard exercise that most children – and generations of science fiction writers – have undertaken, with varying degrees of accuracy. What sort of tech did you fondly hope would be enhancing your home, car, wardrobe etc by now? (And yes, if you’re still sitting in rush hour traffic every morning, wondering where your jet pack is, you’re not alone…)

But how often have you speculated on what might grace your dinner table in 2020 and beyond? At Food Vision 2017, which took place in London last week, this question was debated and solutions suggested by a fascinating array of people at the cutting edge of food innovation.

Bugs were big news – the number of experts who touched on this subject reinforced the emerging view that insects could be vital to the future of the human race. From Bastien Rabastens, Presid-ant (get it?) of bug-based food producer Jimini’s, to Lotta Törner, who heads up the Swedish organisation Skane Food Innovation Network, creepy crawlies were firmly on the menu as a sustainable means of feeding us long-term.

Greater consumer knowledge of healthy eating and an ever-growing demand for choice were also key themes, explored by Louise McWhirter, Head of Insight at Him!, who encouraged food retailers to embrace technology and automation, or be left behind. Who knew that snacking comes in several different forms? Gil Horsky of Mondelēz International, that’s who. Whether they’re focusing on wellness or pleasure, instant gratification or shared snacking, consumers know what they want, so the food industry had better give it to them!

Transparency was a word we heard a number of times. When it comes to corporate responsibility or marketing strategies, the days of the food industry aggressively pressing its agenda onto the public are over. Today, it’s all about building relationships with shoppers and earning the right to market to them, in a world in which the consumer is now king. 

One of the most eye-opening speakers, however, was geneticist Professor Tim Spector, who enlightened us about the 100 trillion microbes that hang about in the human gut. Carrying a vast range of genetic material known as the microbiome, these little chaps have a huge effect on our overall health and the food industry ignores them at its peril. Will we be investing in capsules of ‘donor material’ from those boasting healthy guts, though? Erm…

Are you working in food tech and helping to shape our gastronomic future? Get in touch with us on 0800 772 0800 – we’d love to hear your story. And remember to enter the new FoodTalk Awards!

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