Over the past ten years, food trends have become the basic tool for many actors in the food industry: in executive offices as well as in departments of product development and innovation, in international corporations, SMEs and start-ups, in the gastronomy and for committed farmers. And of course in marketing departments and agencies providing advice on PR and advertising campaigns. This indicates that food industries are increasingly in search of suitable roadmaps for the future, navigation guidance or at least maps for orientation to find an appropriate path in an increasingly complex environment.
Food trends …
- … give answers to current problems related to our diet or food production, i.e. offer solutions or present viable proposals for solutions and worthwhile alternatives.
- … reflect culture-specific yearnings, wishes and needs, but even go beyond them: not all food trends are consumer driven.
- … stand for certain values, are points of reference for identification processes and therefore offer navigational guidance for our daily eatingdecisions and the selection of our food, including strategic decisions and conceptual orientation of companies involved in food production, trade and gastronomy.
- … have a durability of five to ten years, are not static but dynamic, i.e. they change and develop further.
- … differ from social megatrends, are not ubiquitous, do not influence everyone nor include every level of society, not even every food sector. On the contrary, they address various target groups and are carried along by a wide range of different actors. For companies, food trends are not operating instructions that should simply be followed, but meaningful sources of inspiration to ensure they remain fit for the future.
At the moment, 3 food trends can be observed verry well:
1. New Glocal
The pandemic has already dealt a massive blow to global trade and the just-in-time supply chains in the food sector, while further fuelling the climate activists’ long-standing criticism of global sourcing. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put yet another damper on the often questionable advance of the globalised food industry. The established model of shipping food and animal feed around the world taking advantage of differences in economic cycles, growth and inflation, which involves huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and puts great cost and performance pressure on local producers, is beginning to crumble.
New glocal is not only the answer to the massive upheaval in the globalised food system. Dynamised by the war, the food trend, which reflects the wish for a new, more sensible ratio of locally produced to globally imported food, will develop into guidelines fit for the future of the food industry.
Trend prediction: The trend’s movement towards glocalisation is driven forward by strong dynamics: the ecological consequences of a reckless globalised food industry are increasingly finding their way into public consciousness. The first shortfalls and scarcities in pandemic times have already shown the dependencies of globalised supply chains and their fragility. Geopolitical crises then drew more disturbing attention to the vulnerability of the system. New glocal will be no passing trend, but a harbinger of the next evolutionary stage in global food production in which a new focus on regionality and sustainable farming with resilient restrictions on international and global structures will prevail. Gradually, this will also lead to a reorientation of the assortment available in supermarkets and an expansion of international direct trading.
2. Veganising recipes
Almost every cuisine in the world includes dishes that have always been vegan. However, many people socialised in omnivorous eating cultures who wish to avoid food derived from animals in their diets find it difficult to follow a balanced and diverse meal plan. One reason is that an overwhelming proportion of traditional recipes that characterise German, Swiss and Austrian cuisine are based on foods of animal origin – meat and sausage just as eggs, milk and cheese.
The food industry is not the only one reacting to this with the creation of increasingly sophisticated substitute products to “veganise” traditional dishes. On the cookbook market and countless recipe platforms, instructions on how to prepare traditional dishes “animal-free” are appearing. It is not necessary to rely exclusively on high-tech substitute products. Dishes can also be adapted convincingly in terms of flavour using natural ingredients, such as fungi, herbs, pulses, algae etc. This is easier in some recipes, for example where butter can be replaced with vegetable oils, but in others adaptation can be done only by making sensory compromises. Above all, recipes containing fish, meat, sausage or cheese need to be adapted convincingly so that the food tradition can be continued in culinary terms without the use of animal products.
Trend prediction: Vegan alternatives of certain traditional dishes will become standard in our culinary repertoires. Just as chili sin carne has become as well known as chili con carne, there will be similarly successful equivalent alternatives to other classics from a wide range of cuisines. From meatballs or kimchi right up to cabbage roulade, some promising vegan versions are already emerging on recipe forums and blogs around the world. Not all vegan adaptations of well-known dishes or ingredients are convincing by any means. However, competition to create the taste experience that most closely resembles or even outperforms the original is already in full swing and will enrich us with further substitute products, cookbooks, kitchen utensils and creative recipe ideas over the coming years. After all, we are nowhere near peak veganisation yet.
3. Regenerative food
The way in which we produce food today is a significant cause for climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Unlike lifestyle diets occasionally suggest, sustainable diets do not end with the question of what we eat. The question of how our food is produced plays a crucial role. Even plant-based food or ingredients for vegan dishes can have a negative impact in terms of energy and sustainability if those are grown in a non-regenerative way which consumes too much water or reduces the amount of humus in the soil.
Regenerative food, the production of food in accordance with the criteria of regenerative agriculture, offers a farsighted answer to the threat of climate change aside from fostering diversity of planted species human diet is based on. Therefore, this agricultural method provides more variety on our plates. Originally from the US, this niche trend is now followed by farmers in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, whose products are in demand, mainly in top gastronomy. Even international corporations such as PepsiCo and Nestlé have signalled their intention to use more products from regenerative agriculture in their own supply chains.
Trend prediction: Regenerative food will attract the attention of the environmentally conscious foodie scene in the near future and will be a differentiating feature for premium brands and products. In the medium term, regenerative agriculture methods will become a component alongside further important cultivation techniques, such as organic agriculture, permaculture and low-tech methods, which all make a contribution to the bigger, urgently needed transformation of agriculture. The importance of healthy soil and humus has been brought more sharply into focus through popularisation by community supported agriculture, DIY-cultivation and numerous progressive initiatives from environmental activists, which will further promote the concept of regenerative food as a consumer and marketing trend.