what we're watching

What We’re Eating Now

Applicable Trends

March 7, 2019      |      4 Min Read

The way we eat is morphing at an exponential rate, and our team of global Trendspotters has been scanning for the most intriguing products, services and messaging related to food and drink. (At Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, “brailling the culture”—which means scouring the consumer landscape for emerging cultural currents—allows us to uncover instances of “where the future is leaking into the present,” as Faith likes to say. We then use these insights to track the 17 proprietary Trends in our TrendBank and apply this future thinking to our consulting projects for the Fortune 500.)

Here are a couple of key indicators of what intrigued us when it comes to food:

#1. Real Lab Meat vs. Fake Beef

Every day, more and more people move away from meat to a plant-based diet. “A full 70% of the world population reportedly is either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether,” according to Forbes. Many are trying Impossible Meat. First came The Impossible Burger, a vegan burger, that “bleeds” like real beef. The secret lies in an ingredient called “heme” which is plant-derived and gives raw meat its pinkish hue. (Plant proteins are wheat-derived, so, no, it’s not gluten-free.) It’s currently sold by an array of retailers and at Bare Burger, White Castle, Burger King and Red Robin, among others. The company has just launched its pork product, too, and KFC has collaborated with Beyond Meat for faux fried chicken that is earning raves.

Worth considering . . .

The Impossible Burger has not been approved by the FDA but is “GRAS”: Generally Recognized As Safe. Consumer interest in spite of this speaks to how experimental our tastes have become. As our founder and CEO Faith Popcorn has said, “Meat is on Tobacco Road.” Between its negative health and environmental impact, it will see continued declines. It’s the nexus of our Being Alive, Save Our Society and Icon Toppling Trends. However, the counter current is finding ways to create meat without the negative environmental impact. Scientists are actively accelerating this pursuit of growing appetizing beef in the lab, without cutting down trees for livestock grazing or the methane issues. A report found success with lab-grown steak (some say it’s like “stem-cell beef”) that’s grown on a collagen structure. Who’s ready to try it?

#2. Elixirs, Not Alcohol

In years past, news came from adventurous and innovative mixologists and experimentation with higher-alcohol cocktails and beers. What’s emerging now is an emphasis on sober and neuronal beverages—those without alcohol but perhaps a kick of high-flavor, health-boosting ingredients—a perfect confluence of the Fantasy Adventure and Being Alive Trends. One of our team’s favorite examples of the rising cultural shift: Sober bars that offer inventive alcohol-free cocktails, like NYC’s once-a-month Listen Bar, which serves herbal concoctions (with CBD dosing available) keyed to a customer’s preferred dietary plan, and Temperance Bar in Fullerton, CA, which serves low-sugar, non-alcoholic craft cocktails.
Even if not served in a bar setting, we want our drinks to keep us calm, cool and clear-headed. There’s a spate of mood- and cognition-boosting drinks infiltrating the market, often designated to be nootropics or neuronal, meaning they bolster memory, focus and creativity—or in some cases restore tranquility. Among the offers are Kin Euphorics, Tru Focus, and Koios. As managing moods becomes vital in an ever more stressed society, new drinking rituals are evolving to keep pace with consumer demand.

#3. Food Waste Avengers

The Save Our Society and Icon Toppling Trends are in full swing as consumers demand a response to the 30-40% of food that’s wasted in the US. Some examples from America and elsewhere of how the food industry is developing a conscience: With the motto “When you eat, they eat,” the TangoTab app matches the amount of money a consumer spends at a participating restaurant and donates that to a local hunger charity. In Amsterdam, Too Good To Go makes leftover but still delicious food into Magic Boxes for consumers; the In Stock restaurants serve crave-able meals made from remainder ingredients.

Another point worth considering . . .

Our 99 Lives Trend reveals that we increasingly “live in the blur,” meaning that work and personal lives blend seamlessly; digital nomadism gives rise to a dissolution of boundaries; and dayparts lose their traditional delineations. As this rises as a new lifestyle, we predict that food, booze, and the modulation health (both physical and mental) will continue to hybridize into offerings that suit consumer needs 24/7. To read more, click here.

But with work and personal lives continuing to merge—enabled by the rise and acceptance of Digital Nomadism—the implications and repercussions for brands and companies must be thoughtfully weighed.

Faced with this emerging form of 24/7 consumer, how will you rise to meet their unique (and demanding) needs? Are you prepared?

Let’s Talk

Article Updated from Original December 2017 Post

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