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SPI Predictions

Innovation is happening at a rapid pace in the food industry. Faced with sustainably feeding a bourgeoning global population, climate change, evolving consumer preferences, and more, solutions are being implemented and others pursued for stakeholders throughout the food continuum.

Over the last ten years, the industry drastically evolved, including the role of technology, the emergence of alternatives (sweeteners, meat, and dairy to name a few), and the proliferation of global flavors. With a new decade upon us, IFT’s Science and Policy Initiatives team identified a few trends (in no particular order) we anticipate will be key in shaping the food industry in 2020 and beyond. 

Addressing the Impact of the Food System on the Environment/ Climate – The impact of climate change on the food system is an undeniable issue that needs to be addressed. Expect science and technology to be more prominent in solutions-oriented pursuits to lessen the impact of food system components on the environment.

Digitization in Food Supply Chains – Emergence of truly digitized, transparent food supply chains, allowing tracking and tracing of foods and other benefits as well. Blockchain and other technologies will be significant contributors.

Entrepreneur-Driven Innovation – In the past, evolution in the food industry was largely driven by sizable, established consumer-goods companies. Today, however, much smaller players are driving disruption, and in many cases, these are entrepreneurs rather than specialists. 

Expansion of New Delivery Models – We’ve seen a shift in the traditional grocery model with the rise of delivery services and online ordering. We anticipate growth of last-mile delivery, quick service restaurants, and more.

Increasingly Urbanized Living – Most of the increasing global population will live in dense urban areas which means the distance between food production and consumers will continue to widen. Cities will thus have a significant role in the food supply system.

In addition, we foresee the ongoing expansion of certain categories, such as meat analogues and alternative protein sources as ingredients, continued interest in personalized nutrition including the microbiome and gut health, and an increasing emphasis on various aspects of sustainability.

For more food trends for the new year and beyond, check out the top picks from Food Technology magazine’s editors. Food Technology also published a 2020 Flavor Forecast, which includes the emergence of global tastes and adaptogens.

Looking ahead, Food Technology magazine’s January feature will focus on climate change and food production, examining global warming and its effect on water, crop yield, seafood, food security, and food safety. And don’t miss Food Technology magazine’s top 10 functional food trends in the upcoming April issue.

By Bryan Hitchcock

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