Jellyfish chips, 3D printed snacks, and home-grown cultured meat are all heading our way, as is the prospect of extreme farming on Mars, according to a report commissioned by Sainsbury’s.
As part of its 150th anniversary celebrations, Sainsbury’s has unveiled the findings of its Future of Food Report that it commissioned with innovation agency Department 22, food historian Dr Polly Russell and plant scientist James Wong. It sketches out how we will be living and what we will be eating 150 years from now, and how we will have been forced to adapt to accommodate our nutritional needs against the backdrop of climate change and technological innovation.
A big shift that we’re beginning to see already is the increase in the number of people who identify as flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan, a trend that is being driven firstly by eco anxiety – the growing awareness and concern about how the way we farm and transport our food is impacting the environment. It is also being driven by a growing awareness of animal welfare, and an increased understanding of our own health, and how eating less meat might be better for us.
The report predicts that by 2025 planet-friendly food will be mainstream and we will see more locally sourced produce, seasonal vegetables and hydroponically grown plants.
We will also see more on-site cultivation of herbs and salads in homes, restaurants, canteens and supermarkets.
By 2050 it says we will see a big reduction of meat as a staple protein, and that in 30 years’ time there could be a ‘lab-grown’ aisle in supermarkets where people pick up cultured meats as well as kits to grow their own meat at home.
According to the report, our changing environment will force us to make a stark assessment of what we eat and how we obtain it inevitable, but it will also open up frontiers we haven’t contemplated before.
While the threat of sustainability to land and sea will mean we need to consider eating flour made from ground crickets, and chips made from jellyfish, extreme farming is also on the agenda.
Reversing desertification on this planet is a potential way forward, as is the possibility of farming on the Moon or on Mars.
The trend for personalisation will continue unabated and diets will be customised, so that we will be able to 3D print savoury snacks on demand to our exact recommendations according to our personal tastes and food intolerances.
But in the connected world of 2169 the report predicts that while we will still congregate to eat food for social occasions as a shared experience, nutrition patches and implants may replace daily meals.
There is plenty to think about here, not least the fact that each individual’s food choices have such potential to impact our planet’s future one way or another. But another element highlighted in the report that is of interest to brands is the fact that information about the provenance of food and the journey that any product has made to get somewhere will soon be readily available. Blockchain technology is set to make that possible, and that will enable brands to either build consumers’ trust – or lose it.