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What can we expect in the future?

What can we expect in the future?

Inspired by reading and field work

Just glancing through my notes of various trade fair visits, I find the book “Global Food Trends and Innovations Book” by SIAL and XTC World Innovation. In this book, I stumble upon a good overview of the last 50 years of innovation in the food industry. Every major change is featured: the first hypermarket, changes in packaging, the first microwave, the first drives…It is quite remarkable to see in a few pages that we have known a lot of changes in the past 50 years.

Also featured in the book, there is a short piece about the next 50 years and what to expect. Three trends are highlighted and explained: do-it-yourself, Food and Emotions, and the increased life expectancy. I couldn’t agree more on those three mentioned trends. Obviously, we can expect more upcoming trends to rise and develop. So I was thinking, based on my notes, various conferences, lectures and trade fair visits, I’ll give it a try. Allow me to make an educated guess on other trends to be expected in the (near) future.

Let’s get to ten

Produce-it yourself

Indeed, there are small signs and innovations showing the growth of the Do-it-Yourself phenomenon. For example let us think of people having chickens on balconies, the 3D-food printer…

Not just in the food industry. Let’s also think on how knitting makes a come back, or on how it is trendy to do your own decorations lately.

Food is emotions

As shown by the research of XTC and SIAL, food is no longer an item only consumed for the organic functionality of it. Food has become a way to convey your emotions. One of the examples is the oPhone, developed by David Edwards; a mobile phone that allows you to send smells like you are able to send texts.

Imagine online retailers capable of transmitting smells thanks to a video of a cooking demonstration.

Everyone living to be a hundred

The life expectancy keeps increasing. Will we live to be 100 or even 120 years old? Maybe. But one thing for sure is that it will have an influence on innovations in the future. Today some foods are aimed to reduce cholesterol or calcium deficiencies for example. Tomorrow, healthy food will perhaps help you against dementia, or memory loss.

But not just the ingredients and components will be affected. Marketing will have to adapt its messages and use generation-oriented communications, without using the stereotypes. An example can already be bound with agencies specialized in communicating towards seniors such as Senioragency.

Locally produced, with a clear origin

The DIY-trend mentioned earlier, actually offers you a guarantee. You know how items are produced, as well as you know where the raw materials come from. Now I believe that many consumers will continue and even pay more attention to the origin of the products they consume.


If many will learn to do things themselves, why not share it with friends, or the world, and make a business out of it. This trend is already happening right now. Take for example the amount of new breweries flourishing not only in Belgium, but also in the UK (e.g. Yorkshire) or France. Not all will survive, but this entrepreneurial movement will drive innovations.

More focus on our global impact

There is no denying possible, climate changes occur, and our way of consuming is a major factor. Another aspect is ethical production. It’s not just about looking after your environmental footprint. Consumers will be more informed, and therefore will react (and hopefully condemn) unethical work conditions in factories, or child labor for example. 

Now whether out of necessity or own personal belief, more focus will be turned towards a more sustainable and responsible food industry. So production and distribution must meet the increasing demand, and calculate their impact on the environment and societies

Mobile technology continuing to play an increasing role

Retailers and manufacturers are going to continue to develop their formats online, and interact with their consumers. The same goes with brands and manufacturers. Regardless of the device (mobile, wearable, tablet…), information and purchases will happen more and more through different channels. Your success will depend on how you deal with a consistent approach towards your customers, through the various channels.

I want it now!

The previously mentioned evolution in technology increases the need to answer to your customer rapidly. The challenge will be to guide the customer in his quest so he finds the right information or product, in a minimum time. Consumers will not tolerate bad, long and tedious experiences, or accept long waiting periods for delivery; unless your brand is really amazingly important in his eyes. Speed in consumption will increase, not necessarily the quantity.

Me me me! Give me a personal experience!

Loyalty cards, personal information, browser information…loads of data to be used and analyzed exist. Just use it wisely. Actually just use it, as today it is still not the case. Consumers will appreciate you make an effort to offer them a personal experience. This is valid for online as well as offline retailers.  There is nothing worse than visiting a store or use a service regularly, and never be recognized. It is even more frustrating if your promotions, or your attempts to do business are always aimed at attracting new customers, and you spend less or no effort at all to please current customers. So don’t forget to keep being attractive to both new and loyal visitors; also keep challenging and tempting both.

Bringing sexy back

Now there is something I strongly believe. Like everybody, consumers believe they earn money the hard way, especially in times of challenging economic situation. So when spending money, it needs to be worthwhile. And yet experiences in stores or online aren’t that amazing. In the future, clicks are not going to replace bricks. In the omnichannel spirit, the best players will be a combination of both. But on top of that, only the retailers offering a personal, attractive, fun, sexy, exciting experience will survive. And this is valid not just for expensive purchases, but also for everyday items (including food).

Same time next year

So there you are, with my educated guesses for the future.

  • Produce it yourself
  • Food is emotions
  • Everyone living to be a hundred
  • Locally produced, with a clear origin
  • Entrepreneurship
  • More focus on our global impact
  • Mobile technology continuing to play an increasing role
  • I want it now!
  • Me, me, me! Give me a personal experience!
  • Bringing sexy back

I tried to gaze into the future, as I believe that reading all the different trends and studies is very useful. But mostly, one needs to also trust his inner voice in decision-making. Therefore, it’s a healthy exercise to help planning for the next year(s).

Next year I’ll definitely come back on these and invite you to share your expectations with me. Don’t forget, it’s not about being right; it’s about adapting yourself constantly in our changing world.


Source: SIAL Innovation: “Global Food trends and Innovations Book”, 2014

More about SIAL http://www.sial-group.com

More about XTC: http://www.xtcworldinnovation.com

Feel free to share your opinion with me via the contact page: http://20100retail.be/en/contact