- The food futurologist talks politics, fads and the power of DNA
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We’re coming away from the one-stop-shop supermarket style of retail, where people can buy clothes, flowers and laundry detergent from one place, towards specialists. People will increasingly look to buy products from people who really know what they’re talking about, who sell seasonal produce and are able to advise on how to cook and eat it. People want experience, connection and relationship – they’re connecting with realness and trust imperfection more than perfection.
As we come out of the EU, we’ll lose the regulation which requires our fruit and vegetables to be uniform, so the concept of ‘wonky fruit’ will become more prevalent. Producers will start to create industrially imperfect things; biscuit makers will use different moulds to create variation in packets of biscuits, so they look homebaked rather than factory-made.FADS VS TRENDS…
Fads and trends are two very different things. Fads are what I’m asked about every November or December, when journalists call to ask me about trends for the following year – avocado on toast, matcha lattes (charcoal lattes are next) – but although these are forever-changing, they’re still informed by the wider issues at play in the world at that time.
We’ve had the ‘green phase’ which involved green smoothies, kale and growing walls, plus a lot of students even dyed their hair green during this period; there were a lot of conversations being had about the natural world. We’re now moving into the ‘black phase’ with charcoal pizza bases and foods containing black sesame – people are sensing a darkness, an underlying deception in the world right now, and are also trying to reconnect with the earth. In terms of what we’re putting in our bodies, we’re stepping away from seeing white as purity and goodness, and towards darkness being earthly and wholesome.THE BIG PICTURE
As a culture, we’re searching for meaning. We’ve gone from loads of money in the eighties to suffocation – nothing was enough – and the rise of mental health issues. It’s about finding meaning and connectedness in the wider scheme of things, wanting to give something back and to share. This will continue to be championed by 20 to 30 year olds – this is the generation of sharing – they don’t feel strong as an individual unit, they need group support, so for them it’s a natural thing to create belonging.
This generation is reading the labels of the food they’re eating more than ever before, and they’re the first generation to really get into the idea of ‘balance’: eating a pack of sweets and ‘balancing’ that with a salad. The next generation, the children who are 12 years old now, are a completely different kettle of fish to today’s risk-averse 25 year olds – we’re yet to see how the world will change for them.
Right now the understanding we have of food and its value is only the tip of the iceberg. So far it has informed the trend for health and wellness, but in the next three to five years we’ll have levels of knowledge we’ve never had before and will really see the power in that. For example, we’ll experience the power of personalisation; this has moved on from simply having your name on a can of Coca Cola to finding out who we are, what’s right at the core or our DNA. Diets are being develped which are based on our microbiome and genetics. People will have devices to scan themselves with, which will tell them the nutrients they need that day. This all may seem far-fetched, but it will be our reality sooner rather than later.
Read the entire interview in the latest issue of Speciality Food, available to download for free here.