In our networked, globalized present, food is no longer just food. What we eat not only serves to satisfy our appetite – our behaviour in selecting and preparing a dish or drink is today more than ever a balancing of the most diverse factors. We are guided by food trends that we encounter online and offline, our kitchen is a completely different habitat today than it was just a few decades ago, and digitalization gives us new access to global food supply.
In the morning, you ordered breakfast via app – comfortably from bed. Foodsaving is your spontaneous choice for lunch and you content yourself with yesterday’s left-overs. Dinner has to be celebrated in return, having friends over and cooking together. What influences our choices? What kind of eating habits match with our new behaviors? And how can the kitchen of the future actually fulfill our needs?
Food and beverage trends sometimes only change little things: Certain foods that seemed forgotten for a long time are becoming modern again (such as beetroot as a colouring agent for our milk foam) or new ingredients are mixing up well-known things (such as Matcha tea is turning from a drink into an ingredient in ice cream, waffles and the like).
Such trends become exciting when we look at them in the broader context of human behaviour. Then the insect burger is a signal of how megatrends around sustainability and globalization are gradually finding their way into our everyday lives. Or the cereal drink that replaces a meal, a sign of our accelerated present in which we like to save time and effort and wish everything to go, but please healthy. We were at the Internorga and were inspired by the trends in the industry – and although we have encountered surprisingly few disruptive innovations, it is clear that megatrends such as globalization, health, sustainability and digitization will continue to influence what we pour ourselves and put on our plates in the coming years.
How we cook and nourish ourselves has changed rapidly over the last decades. And life patterns of the coming generations – especially Gen Y and Gen Z – are expected to be again significantly different to today’s. So what are their expectations towards their kitchen? Which experiences would they like to make there? What would appliances look like that they would like to use and buy? In our ethnographic study “Millennial Kitchens”, we have gone where we can find answers to these questions: To the kitchen tables of young people. We visited them at home and discussed their expectations, wishes and challenges. The result is not only that vegetables rise from the side dish to the main course, but also that cooking the meal blossoms out to the community main event. Our findings have led to “Millennial Mindsets”, which give us an insight into how young people behave today and in the future.
While digitalization may change our access to food, it can save lives in other areas of the world. With the help of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, hunger can be detected and combated – as the Child Groth Monitor of the Welthungerhilfe proves. In 2017, together with 18 ambassadors from Welthungerhilfe, we developed innovative and highly efficient ideas in the fight against hunger at our Innovation Factory in Delhi, India, in a sprint of just seven days. The Child Growth Monitor, an augmented reality app with which communities around the world can identify even latent child malnutrition and prevent consequential damage with dietary supplements, was one of the inspiring examples resulting of genuine human innovation.
Microsoft and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have now taken the project to the next level. With the help of a 3D scan, the height and weight of children up to five years of age can be estimated – and the app provides a diagnosis of possible malnutrition. This solution can help parents or volunteers quickly identify and respond to malnutrition in both humanitarian crises and chronic hunger situations. In addition, it has been difficult to estimate the extent of a famine – here, too, the app can provide decision-makers and politicians with initial indications.
Tim studied ethnology with a focus on Asia and Africa. With his further training in international management, he succeeds in professionalizing the ethnological perspective in the business context as well. Local subcultures have always fascinated him – whether indigenous groups, consumers or senior management.