Revolutionizing the Way We Eat - Trends in the Food Industry

June 17, 2023

Amid supply chain disruptions, food businesses focus on resilience. With just-in-time ordering and cross-border supply chains, manufacturers need to be able to adapt quickly in the face of challenges.

Consumers are increasingly aware of the need for sustainable farming and food waste reduction. Companies are lowering their environmental impact by using food that would otherwise go to waste in new products.

1. Food as Medicine

It’s no secret that diet plays a critical role in our health. But what some people may not know is that food can be used as medicine.

A growing number of programs are leveraging the power of nutrition to manage and in some cases reverse disease.1

Whether providing medically tailored meals or produce prescriptions, these interventions help patients manage and even prevent their disease states with lifestyle changes.

While these efforts can have significant impact on a person’s health, many are dependent upon philanthropic funding and limited in scope, subject to downturns in charitable giving and time limits on grant funding. To address these limitations, NFRPD conducted a scoping review to create a food retail-based framework for Food as Medicine. Learn more in the Food as Medicine Opportunities in Food Retail presentation.

2. Plant-Based Innovation

As more consumers are choosing to reduce their meat intake and support companies that prioritize sustainability, brands can expect innovation in the plant-based sector to continue. This includes dairy alternatives like plant-based milk, and innovations in ingredients that offer a similar eating experience to traditional proteins.

Examples of these include algae, synthetically grown meat, and edible insect burgers. These products can help assure food security, protect global biodiversity and minimize animal cruelty.

This is an important topic, with many journals devoted to it publishing research on these topics. Trends in Food Science & Technology published seven manuscripts on this subject, the highest of the journals analyzed. These articles address a variety of different topics, including: economic/business aspects; national cultural factors; and creation/absorption of innovation.

3. Smart Packaging

Many companies are investing in smart packaging technology, a deep-tech term that describes the ability of packaging to communicate with its contents. It can help to preserve foods longer by activating odor-emitting materials, oxygen and ethylene absorbers, antimicrobial surface coatings and moisture-regulating materials, for example.

But to be truly smart, a system must "be faultless in determining whether the package is spoiled or unsafe," Dunn says. Otherwise, false negatives could put spoiled or unsafe products into consumer households, while false positives can prompt consumers to throw away good food.

At AIPIA World Congress, Haleon asked tech providers to provide a trustworthy solution that includes safety, sustainability, inclusivity and consumer engagement features. That's a tall order for any smart packaging solution. But it's an important one to keep on the radar as we move into 2023 and beyond.

4. Food Waste Reduction

Nearly one-third of the world’s food is lost or wasted every year, from crop production to retail. This squanders seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, and financial capital while contributing to global climate change.

Food waste reduction is an important step in the fight against climate change, as it reduces greenhouse gases at every stage of the food supply chain. Consumers can cut their own food waste by using shopping lists, checking expiration dates before throwing away foods that are still edible, and taking advantage of new farm-to-customer delivery services, like TooGoodToGo.

Companies can also reduce their own food waste by incorporating repurposed ingredients and packaging from products that would otherwise have been discarded into new, sustainable products. This trend is already gaining momentum, with more CPG product launches this year featuring upcycled ingredients.

5. Food Tech

In addition to improving food safety and reducing food waste, technology is also changing the way we shop for and prepare food. For example, grocers are using technology to track ingredients and ensure they receive the freshest produce. And restaurants are using technology to monitor food quality and reduce waste.

Food tech is the broad category that includes innovations like edible insects, GMOs, plant-based innovation and vertical farming. It also covers the use of technology to reduce food waste and increase efficiency in restaurant operations.

While some of these innovations are still in the early stages, they show how food tech can transform our relationship with food. The future of the food industry looks bright as we move away from a one-size-fits-all diet and toward more nutritious, sustainable options.

Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator

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