As the global economy and markets continue to shift, predicting the future of food can be difficult. However, several trends are likely to have an impact on what and how people eat in the coming years. Technology, convenience and personalization are some of the top trends that will affect consumption. Four industry leaders shared their thoughts on the food industry’s future in recent interviews: Ran Peled from CommonSense Robotics, Bruce Schroder from Moe’s Southwest Grill, Elana Karp from Plated and Christine Marcus from Alchemista.
People are changing the way they eat, cook and shop for food, and technology is one of the main reasons behind this. Grocery shopping has become more fragmented for families with spontaneous “fill in” shopping trips supplanting the traditional weekly stock-up trip because of e-commerce.
“In a 2018 consumer survey we conducted, more than 50% of the people reported they would prefer to receive a few smaller orders throughout the week rather than one large order each week. Acosta reports that 85% of consumers do not know what they are having for dinner until hours before mealtime. While Americans do dine out more than ever before, NPD reports that four out of five meals are still prepared at home. Americans are eating more meals at home today than they did a decade ago,” Ran Peled, VP of marketing at CommonSense Robotics, says.
Technology is helping the dramatic shift away from the traditional weekly stock-up grocery trip to immediate, needs-based replenishment thanks to e-commerce. Consumer preferences for on-demand grocery delivery, within one to two hours, will only grow. Most consumers will look toward the brick-and-mortar grocery retailers they trust to meet this demand through online deliveries.
“A new report from Bain shows that a whopping 96% of consumers would look first to a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer for home delivery and 85% would select a store they already visit. While grocery retailers face tremendous challenges in the shift toward e-commerce, we believe that there is also a great opportunity for them to dominate in online grocery,” Peled shares.
The desire for convenience is not going away in the future. Consumers want food that is easy to prepare without sacrificing taste. “The future of food will increasingly revolve around technology in an effort to address the need for convenience. Whether someone orders dinner on a smartphone app or a company orders lunch for hundreds of employees, people lead busy lives and want ways to simplify and modernize everyday tasks,” Christine Marcus, Alchemista’s cofounder and CEO, says.
Consumers want meals that are convenient, fast and inexpensive. However, they do not want to lose flavor or eat unhealthy options. The food service industry will continue to evolve to meet customer preferences. Marcus believes companies will find creative ways to increase revenue by partnering with each other to meet these demands.
Despite the growth of technology and ongoing desire for convenience, customers still want a personalized experience when they shop or cook. “Food is personal in almost every way. The future of food will be about even more convenience and personalization. There will be more options and services for people to customize their food,” Elana Karp, Plated’s culinary co-founder and head chef, says.
As more customers lean toward a balance between indulgence and a health-conscious diet, personalized food will become a greater expectation. “The fast-casual segment is going to need to continue to expand culinary innovation and challenge what has not been done before to stay relevant with customers’ ever-changing dietary needs,” Bruce Schroder, president of Moe’s Southwest Grill, says.
Technology, convenience and personalization are intertwined in the food industry. In the future, you can expect to see tech continue to play a major role as consumers continue to demand convenient food with a personal touch.