The GDI Food Trend Map: What's changing?

A revolution has swept the world of nutrition, and the pressure on the entire system is increasing. One thing is clear: If we continue to focus only on our individual needs and ignore the big picture, we face the threat of collapse in the medium to long term. The GDI Food Trend Map summarizes current developments.

The following text is based on an excerpt from the current "European Food Trends Report", available on our website.

Our eating habits are not only resource-intensive, unhealthy, contradictory and inconsistent, they are also in constant flux. Or as the British cultural historian, journalist and author Bee Wilson says: «Very little about how we eat now would have been considered normal a generation ago, but I take consolation in thinking that much of it surely won’t seem normal in the future either.»

Question the food system as a whole

Our focus is shifting accordingly. We have to find solutions to securing the food supply for ten billion people. We are all part of a greater whole, but often act as if we are alone on this planet. The emphasis can therefore no longer simply fall on our individual longing for romance, authenticity and naturalness. We have to question our entire food system, take a look at global challenges and master these with new values, decisions based on sound judgement, and tech-based solutions.

The world of food has been turned upside down – at all levels of the value chain. This gives rise to great uncertainty and many questions. What innovations will change the way and manner in which food is produced and processed in the future? How will it be transported and distributed? How will this change sales and food service? How, when, where, with whom, and what do people wish to eat in the future? What innovations and concepts are available for improving sustainability? And how can all this be combined into a well-functioning system?

Innovations in the nutrition network

The Food Trend Map summarises current developments and trends – disruptive innovations throughout the value network – and plots them graphically. The Food Trend Map is based on 
interviews with experts from Europe, North America and Asia. These interviews were carried out by the international market research company Evalueserve ((Evalueserve | Global Intelligence & Analytics Consulting)) on behalf of the GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute. The experts come from different sectors – technology, research, production, sales, investment, etc. – and business structures – from startups and large corporates to universities, institutes, organisations and government agencies.

The trends and innovations mentioned by these experts are allocated to the different levels of the value chain. The Map also differentiates between established and emerging trends. Circle sizes indicate how often the trend in question was mentioned by the experts.

Tech Topics gaining Importance

The experts considered tech topics to be particularly important at all levels of the value chain. In the production of food, this mainly includes alternative sources of protein and food from 3D printers. To complete the overall picture, the authors of the study added technical innovations relating to GMO (genetically modified organisms) and Crispr (a method for editing the building blocks of DNA in a genome). 

The processing of food is becoming increasingly automated and networked. New technologies such as the Internet of Things with machine-to-machine interaction, blockchain applications and robotics take centre stage. As health topics remain very popular among consumers, fermentation and the manufacture of free-from products without 
allergens are very important. Cannabis drinks as a food category that can only be produced in large volumes thanks to relaxed regulation and new technologies are also gaining in importance.

Delivering Transparency?

Delivery topics are central to sales and distribution. Whether fresh food, pre-portioned meal kits or ready-to-serve meals – the industry is caught up in a real supply frenzy. In this regard, self-driving cars and delivery drones will become more important in the future, while virtual and augmented reality will give rise to new opportunities in sales, distribution, marketing and communication.

Consumers are placing increasing emphasis on transparency. New technologies are reducing transaction costs for information and finding out about products and their origin will become faster and easier. As health is still a huge priority, individualised menus – including DNA-based personalised menus – remain highly regarded.

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