For more than 20 years I’ve compiled a list of predictions for the year ahead in the food world. For the first time this year, I decided to “grade” myself on how accurate (or not) my figurative crystal ball was. It’s a way for all of us to reflect on what’s occurred in the past year that we might have already forgotten about and what we need to be on the lookout for in the coming year.
Trend: Mindfulness (Got It Right)
Mindfulness reflected a new consumer attitude to
truly understand everything possible about a particular
food or beverage and, in turn, support those brands,
companies or retailers with repeat purchases. Innova
Market Insights reported that 7 out of 10 U. S. and U.K.
consumers want to know and understand product
ingredients. Food and beverage brand introductions that
feature ethical claims on their packages have increased
sevenfold since 2010, and these human, environmental
and animal ethical claims continue to grow in popularity.
Today’s new food leaders are driven by a new set of
corporate values: social conscience, health and wellness,
enhanced nutrition and life hacking. And yes, they also
want to make money—big money.
Trend: Tactile (Got It Right, With a Twist)
It’s all about being involved. Feeling and hearing a
connection is more important in food than ever. First
came a more intellectual connection to our foods,
and now it gets physical. With the onslaught of “food
information overload,” we now need grounding.
There is no profession more tactile than a chef—one
of the reasons for the initial boom of meal kits, which
quickly faded as customers reacted negatively to their
I predicted that poke bowl restaurants offering a
variety of colors and textures would pop up everywhere,
and they have. But now I predict we will see many
closures as restaurants haven’t offered enough variety.
However, retailers such as Gelson’s, which have installed
self-service poke bars that invite shoppers to make their
own combinations, should continue to do well.
I forecasted that 3D printing would create more
tactile food experiences and make production methods
more efficient and less wasteful in departments such
as in-store bakeries, where customers order cakes with
exact ingredients and designs. While I haven’t seen a lot
of commercialization of this technology at retail, I still
stand by this prediction for 2019.
Trend: Farming (Got It Right)
A new breed of younger farmers is entering the fields.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Census of
Agriculture reports the number of farmers under age
35 is increasing, which is only the second time that’s
happened since 1900. Of these new farmers, 69% have
college degrees, far higher than the 40% penetration for
the general population. Younger, smarter farmers are
bringing us into a new era of agriculture and technology.
Trend: Biohacking (Almost Got It Right)
Biohacking creates a science for more individualized
nutrition and products based on DNA. While companies
such as 23andMe, Habit and GenoPalate are selling
nutrition guidance reports, no one (yet) is using them to
customize foods, which could be huge.
Trend: Technofoodology (Got It Right)
The combination of the internet of things and food is
here. Alexa, Google Home and Sonos are ushering in
new ways to buy food; we can easily replenish our homes
by asking Alexa to reorder from Amazon and other
retailers such as Sheetz, which now offers “
made-to-order foods” from all of its 564 c-stores stores on Alexa.
So how did I do? I’ll give myself a solid “B,” but I’m
curious to know what grade you would give me. Let me
know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forecast: Hit or Miss?
Assessing how 2018 food world predictions fared
one year later. By Phil Lempert
Phil Lempert, also known as
the Supermarket Guru, is a
leading food marketing and
consumer trends analyst for
the grocery and retail sectors.
The latest news, analysis and trends from an industry expert