It’s 2018, which means, along with everything thing else it influences, technology is transforming the way buyers think about, shop for, and obtain food.
From more sustainable diets to Amazon’s dominance, here are five food and food tech trends that are shaking the global culinary scene.
1. Healthier, more mindful diets
As consumers around the world, continue to learn about and gain access to healthy food, the shift to more sustainable diets is going to continue to grow throughout 2018.
Mindful, sustainable diets are a result of buyers wanting to know every detail about a food or beverage and the company producing it. This section of consumers wants to ensure that their values align with that of the producer and retailer.
Movies, documentaries and books have had a massive influence on cultural knowledge and have inspired many people to become vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or merely reduce the amount of meat and animal products they consume on a regular basis. For this reason, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are going to become more and more mainstream.
Additionally, soy products such as tempeh and tofu will continue to grow in prominence, while consumers increasingly obtain their protein from legumes, nuts and other plant protein sources.
The Impossible Burger is a good example of how the tech-driven innovations are changing the way we eat. The makers of this burger engineered a new brand of food technology platform that made it possible to create juicy, meaty burgers made 100% from plants. Similar technology disruptors and pioneers all over the world are now working double time to provide good food with low impact to the environment.
To keep up with these demands, brands, retailers and food distributors in UAE are shifting to a new mindset that focuses on and values social responsibility, consumer health and wellness, and nutrition.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is entering all parts of our modern-day lives, and nowhere is this more obvious than when it comes to obtaining our food. There is no escaping it — the Internet, and our food have started a relationship.
According to studies, by 2020 there will be 55 million smart devices in our homes, a number that will make these home-based assistants (such as Amazon’s Alexa and Sonos) undoubtedly the largest supermarket chain on the planet. These devices enable homes to simply and efficiently restock fridges and cupboards.
No doubt, soon, we will all be installing best commercial freezers/smart freezers and cupboards that will then be in a position to automatically replenish the necessary food items and products. To keep up with this, physical stores will need to focus on fresh, artisanal and speciality foods that AI replenishing can’t be substituted for.
Furthermore, AI allows retailers in the grocery industry to have a better understanding of customer data which can be utilized as a means for controlling pricing, advertisements, product distribution and lots more. Not only does AI promise to help retailers price products more precisely, but it can also assist in forecasting demand.
3. Amazon’s dominance
In 2017, Amazon shook up the food industry when it bought Whole Foods, enabling it to have a physical presence in the US to considerably grow its grocery delivery services. Earlier this year, Amazon opened its Amazon Go concept shop which is located at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and is cash- and cashier-free.
When consumers enter the store, they scan an app and shop around using a virtual cart. Once an item is pulled off the shelf, it is added to their shopping cart, and then invoiced to their Amazon account.
In 2018 and beyond, expect to see Amazon create entirely new markets, products, and trends for the food industry.
4. Customized meal kits
In the fast-paced world of 2018, households want to consume easily accessible yet delicious food regularly. For this reason, customized meal kits are growing in popularity — packaged meals that have healthy offerings to satisfy customers’ individual dietary and taste needs.
Over the course of 2018, anticipate hearing a lot more people talking about their customized meal kits and plans, and expect significant transformations in the prepared meal kit market. In fact, this segment of the industry has led to an undeniable increase in services involving food delivery in the UAE.
5. “Pretty” food
Of course, the desire to Instagram (yes, used as a verb!) and share everything we eat on social media means that dishes are going to have to continue looking just as good as they taste. Colorful plates, smoking cocktails, glamorous-looking salads, and fanciful wraps and sandwiches are going to continue to be staples in the food trends of 2018.
Aside from good old fashioned plating, new technology plays a key role in making food prettier today. Global food innovation companies, for example, are now making good-looking and great-tasting food through 3D printing.
Many food items and beverage products also now prioritize ethical packaging – while keeping everything good looking. They’re now prepare to invest in new technologies that promote sustainable packaging design and materials.
Some of these new tech-driven food packaging solutions include aqueous barrier coatings, lightweight insulation as an alternative to conventional foam, fiber for packaging extracted from plant waste, soy-based inks with a wide range of colors and molded fiber printing that offers various possibilities for high-resolution, visually enticing graphics.
Just like with everything related to technology, the food industry is going to evolve at an exponential rate over the next few years. What do you predict is going to be the next food trend? Let us know in the comments below!
Jad Assad is the Marketing Manager at Horeca Trade LLC with more than eight years of experience in digital, online and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.