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The world of food is changing. Tech has invaded eating in a big way, from meal delivery to social media to online shopping and there ain’t no turning back. Investors too, are in the midst of a massive love affair with all things food. (And long may that continue! What’s more important than food?!) But where’s the money going? And what other disruptions are coming? I dusted off my crystal ball to put together 2022 Alt Protein Trend Predictions, but beyond making industrial ag obsolete, here are more ten food trends I think are going to impact how we eat, how we grocery shop and how we cook.
1) Q-Com Grocery Wars Continue
But can I get my shopping in 5 mins, tho?! Quick commerce or Q-Com as the VC kids are calling it, is not going anywhere. Whether you’re pro (convenient, less wastage) or against (destroying neighbourhoods, labor exploitation), it’s hard to imagine any kind of reversal at this point. But fast delivery and smarter logistics is only the entry point. Q-com is the beginning of a grocery tech revolution. Think: concierge grocery services, nutritionist-backed suggestions, chef-assisted recipes and more.
2) Ethical Convenience Stores
Have you heard of Foxtrot? The Chicago-based company is revolutionising the corner store thanks to what might be the world’s best product curation in terms of ticking every millennial and Gen Z diversity and inclusion box- “plant-based first, 15% BIPOC, 20% local and 50% female owned”. Not to make it sound like they are virtue signaling. I think thoughtful, ethical product selection and local (as in both locally made and locally owned) brands will change future convenience stores forever (the second part of this prediction is that we will do more and more of our grocery shopping from convenience stores).
3) Conscious Meal Delivery
Regenerative meal delivery is now a thing. And I think there will be a lot more where that’s coming from. If consumers want regen ingredients, then demand for entire regen meals is coming, not to mention ethically delivered and compostable packaged.
4) Better, Greener Packaging Please
Last year, I predicted alt protein brands would have to improve their packaging to appeal to conscious consumers. I was wrong. There was almost no innovation on this front. Packaging remains a massive sustainability blindspot but it appears that 2022 could be a turning point (and consumers are finally ready to pay for it). I’m so passionate about sustainable packaging, I even started a company to solve these problems so I am definitely biased.
5) Welcome To The Waste Renaissance
Food waste has never been sexier. In the last quarter of 2021, a fairly large smattering of headlines announced new food brands made from waste- you can even get certified upcycled now. I think in 2022 this will explode. 50% of all food produced is wasted. And that’s not even counting what can be done with post-consumer food waste (potato peelings, uneaten bread, etc). Huge area of opportunity here, both for founders AND investors.
6) Tik Tok Restaurants & Influencer Foods Are HERE
Move over chefs and entrepreneurs, social media influencers are the new food creators and restaurant founders. With folks under 25 now spending the bulk of their time on social (read: Tik Tok) and ignoring most mainstream news media platforms (a 21-year-old foodie I spoke to last month had never heard of Gordon Ramsay), this can only be expected to become a huge trend. Celeb chefs beware.
7) Web3 x Food Is A New Gastro Frontier
I am FAR from an expert here but there’s a ton of cool stuff going on like NFT restaurants, DAO beverage brands and minted pantries. Read more on this exciting new world from an actual expert (not me).
8) Supply Chain Recruitment Heats Up
Between rising inflation (the economy), skyrocketing price of agricultural inputs (climate change) and just generally higher food prices (the pandemic, everything), managing your supply chain has become one of the most difficult parts of running a food business. My gut says we will see a LOT more supply chain manager hiring/supply chain consultants as companies look to navigate these choppy waters.
9) Blockchain-Powered Traceability WILL Happen
This is one that has been in the works for a few years now, but I am still uber bullish. I WILL live to see a world where everything I buy is carbon-labeled AND blockchain tech. The only question is how we will get there. It’s super complicated, which is why it hasn’t happened yet. But it’s in progress and lots of money/talent is going into this.
10) Precision Fermentation Everything Else Is Coming
Alt dairy precision fermentation startups dominate the headlines. But here’s what’s exciting me though beyond animal-free cheese and ice cream: precision fermentation everything else, from eggs to chocolate to coffee and palm oil, this technology is still very much in its infancy and I predict a whole lot more launches of as yet unknown food categories using it.
Lead image courtesy of Virtual Dining Concepts.