Food & Beverage
TRENDS AND SIGNALS FROM CULTURE
Editorial Director: Rik Haslam Publisher: MaryLee Sachs Editor in Chief: Austin Randall Creative Director: Michael Mackay Art Director/Designer: Jon Herrera Adam Woods Head of Production: Lauren Strickland Contributing Writers: Rosanna Beart Hannah Conway Andrew Sacks-Hoppenfeld Markus Miklis ÂŠ BrandPie Inc, 2018
Letter From The Editor Welcome to the first issue of magpie – a new quarterly publication that tunes into signals from culture to help you navigate our transformative times. Each issue will focus on a specific vertical and feature stories sourced from our global network of strategists and industry experts. For this launch issue, magpie surveys the food and beverage landscape, reporting on the emerging trends that are driving innovation, influencing customer behavior and revealing powerful insights about the future direction of the sector. From food waste to new production methods, the rise of narcofoods and Gen Z’s inspiring relationship with the kitchen, magpie’s contributors reveal rich and dramatic shifts in our relationship with food. Many of the changes we’re seeing are counter-intuitive: among the surprises is the impact of seemingly trivial remixes of nostalgic food favorites. We’ve also been impressed by the pace at which transformative new farming technologies are being created and deployed. In creating magpie it’s our intent to be both informative and entertaining, and to bring you a global view that delivers a thoughtprovoking mix of perspectives. Enjoy and do let us know what you think – we welcome all feedback. Austin Randall Editor in Chief
Artificial Ingredients Intelligence
The New Mobile Menu
The Forgotten Food Groups
The Economics of Waste
ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS INTELLIGENCE
Farm to table takes on a whole new meaning as technology redefines what it means to be free-range, organic and local.
Photo Credit: Sean Gumm
For many, factory farming practices are considered as evil as Big Tobacco or child labor. In 2002, “The Meatrix” was released online to the horror of many. The short-form video spoofed the popular sci-fi movie and critiqued the façade put up by the factory farming industry, unapologetically revealing the animal cruelty and mass pollution happening behind closed doors. The video has since been translated into over 30 different languages and watched by 30 million people around the world. Since then, internet culture has continued the wide-ranging discussion around the politics of food. Though our society may be increasingly alienated from the production of the food it consumes, we’ve become ever more obsessed with the ethics of its creation. As a result, “responsible” eating emerged as a dominant trend of the first decade of the 21st century, with words like vegan, local, free-range and organic becoming proxies for sustainable, healthy food. Fifteen years later, the food production industry has come up with a potential solution: new technologies that enable environmentallyfriendly, highly-regulated, and cruelty-free practices. Enter the factory farm, reborn with sustainability at the core of its development. 7
Human labor in the food industry is becoming increasingly obsolete, with AI-empowered machines taking over processes both in the kitchen and in the field. “Flippy,”created by Miso Robotics, is a robotic kitchen aid that assists with grilling, prepping, and plating meals through the use of cameras, sensors, and mechanical arms. The precision of these robotics is unprecedented: the University’s Lincoln Institute of Agrifood Technology modeled a fully autonomous broccoli-picking robot after the Mars lander, which uses AI connected to a 3D camera to guide the machinery with a, “soft, gentle touch to pluck each stem with minimal damage” (Raconteur 2017). Last year, Harper Adams University teamed up with agricultural equipment company Precision Decisions to create the Hands Free Hectare project. This bold initiative enabled the harvesting of an entire barley crop without a single human hand. With a high turnover rate of service workers in restaurants and the increasing difficulty of finding farm laborers at all, it’s easy to see why food distributors and producers are turning to robots to fill these positions. Accenture estimates that AI will raise productivity in the agricultural sphere 53 per cent by 2035.
THAT SAID, AUTONOMOUS TECHNOLOGIES ARE NOT ONLY REPLACING HUMAN LABOR, THESE MACHINES ARE ALSO SURPASSING HUMANS IN THEIR ABILITY TO MONITOR THE PROCESSES OF FOOD PRODUCTION. Autonomous farming start-up Iron Ox is developing machine-learning algorithms to detect underdeveloped or sick plants, which can then be removed by robotic arms that constantly monitor the crops. The increased efficiency of these developments has the potential to make significant contributions to the creation of environmentally sustainable farming and agricultural processes. Last year, Hahn Family Wines joined forces with Verizon to implement a new set of sensors that continuously measure the moisture levels of the soil in their fields. Andy Mitchell, their Director of Viticulture, noted that this technology allows their team to closely monitor water usage, “Then we know we’ve put on too much water so we can cut back. It really helps us fine-tune our application methods” (Wired 2017).
VERTICAL FARMING REACHES NEW HEIGHTS
By 2050, the world’s population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion, with 2/3 living in urban areas. The food production industry must adjust accordingly. China in particular has struggled to feed its rising population, mostly due to growing urban centers encroaching on arable land sources; soil pollution resulting in toxic crops further complicates the issue. Their solution is to invest heavily in vertical farming. Beijing startup Alesca Life creates mobile farming units — hydroponic plants stacked in portable shipping containers or smaller, cabinet sized formats that can be bought by food retailers, processors, and even restaurants. The units are designed to fit easily within any urban center. Another example is Singapore, one of the most densely populated cities in the world — in its entirety, it has only 250 acres of farmable land. In order to feed an ever-growing population, the city has begun partnering with companies like Jack Ng’s Sky Greens. The firm has set up one of the first commercial vertical farms in Singapore to help feed the population and prove the concept. Surging investments in the development of these vertical and rotational farming applications has helped the technology advance and spread out into neighboring countries. The vertical farming movement is not just limited to Asia, in fact it’s gaining traction all across the globe. In France, startup Agricool raised $9.1 million in funding to grow food in mobile containers that will be placed in cities globally. U.S. based vertical farming startup Plenty is opening a 100,000 square foot indoor farm in Seattle, with the aim to, “deliver industry-leading yields of local, backyard-quality produce that’s completely GMO and pesticide-free” (Plenty 2017). Vertical farms boast the capability of producing 100x the standard yield of crops on a fraction of the land and using considerably less water than a conventional agricultural site. The science backs these claims up: recent studies of hydroponics have proven higher yields with more water efficiency, not to mention reduced emissions from drastically cutting back transported food. Other benefits include planting that does not rely on weather or seasons, zero-use of pesticides, and fresher produce delivered the day it is procured.
SYNTHETIC REVOLUTION Food production is not only changing its footprint – it’s also changing its very molecular structure. Since the first lab-grown burger patty was unveiled in 2013, funding to synthetic biology startups has more than tripled. Memphis Meats, backed by investors Bill Gates and Richard Branson, is developing a way to produce real meat from animal cells, “without the need to feed, breed and slaughter actual animals” (Memphis Meats 2017). But Memphis Meats is just one among many in the growing sector of synthetic food. Finless Foods aims to use cellular culture technology to mass manufacture marine food products that will resemble fish in look, taste and texture – the only difference being the way it’s produced. Clara foods even makes egg whites from genetically modified yeast. New Harvest is a nonprofit organization that aims to “reinvent the way we make animal products – without animals.” The company’s CEO, Isha Datar, predicts that the field of biogenetics will impact mainstream audiences in a matter of years: “It will be like open-source software… The cells are the code” (New Scientist 2017). The desired end game for these projects is clear: crueltyfree harvesting processes with a lessened environmental impact. “We expect our products to be better for the environment (requiring up to 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, land and water than conventionally-produced meat), the animals and public health” (WorldWatch 2017). Worldwide meat production has tripled over the last four decades and has increased 20 percent in the last ten years alone — this demand will only increase as the world’s population rises. The next wave of sustainability is less about individual choices. It’s more about how companies adopt and implement new technologies to make the practices of food production more sustainable. The next wave of food production will make people rethink the labels on their packages – and what words like organic, local, and vegan mean when they are divorced from nostalgic concepts of today’s conventional farms.
Photo Credit: Jatuphon Buraphon
IT WILL BE LIKE OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE... THE CELLS ARE THE CODE
In the age of the rockstar chef, kids all over America are trading t-ball for tea time and turning the kitchen into their new playground.
Photo Credit: Clifford Dorr
ada! Everybody look what I made!” shouts 10-yearold Charli with glee, holding up a cupcake popped into the top of a cup full of M&Ms. Seems normal? Maybe not so much – this particular
video of the child baker and Youtube sensation has been
watched over 122 million times. Charli’s channel has over 800,000 subscribers and reportedly brings in over $127,000 a month from ad revenue (DailyMail 2015). Charli is not alone in her demographic: kids today are more involved in the kitchen than ever before. Nielsen ratings show that 60% of kids between the ages of 2 and 17 watch Food Network shows with their parents and nearly 4 in 10 kids, including 51% of teens, say they have recently cooked a meal from scratch. Further, kids associate cooking as part of their identity — with food ranking as one of Gen Z’s top obsessions, ranking higher than either music or sports (Ad Age 2015). Increased involvement of kids in the kitchen could be seen a result of shifting cultural attitudes about child-rearing – a backlash to the helicopter parenting that produced a generation of anxious and dependent kids and adults.
A recent study from the Harvard Grant Survey showed that people who grew up doing chores and housework in childhood are happier later in life (Business Insider 2015). So it makes sense that teaching children how to cook similarly fosters selfsufficiency and independence. Spending more time together in the kitchen also allows adults to pass on knowledge of healthy eating habits to their kids, a topic of chief concern to parents today (Barkley US 2017). Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, time spent cooking provides families with time to connect in an age of endless distractions. With more parents working outside the home, this quality family time is more valuable than ever before.
T T A A D A Photo Credit: Juj Winn
At the start of January 2018, a Whole Foods in Alpharetta, Georgia, opened “Salud! Cooking School,” offering a range of cooking classes for children. Butter Beans Cooking Class teaches kids about the skills, ingredients, techniques and vocabulary required to make nutritious meals.
C O M PA N I E S T H AT CHEF INFLUENCERS CharlisCraftyKitchen features a 10-year-old baker, and has over 800 000 subscribers. Flynn McGarry has been referred to as the “Justin Beiber of food.”
Kidstir is a meal kit company aimed at children.
Photo Credit: Annabelle Breakey & twomeows
31% of consumers buying meal kits fall into the “Families with children” category (Nielsen 2018).
HELP KIDS COOK COMPETITIVE KITCHEN
Minnesota Super Bowl put on the “Super Snack challenge” inviting 10 finalists (aged 8-14) to make their favorite recipes for a panel of celebrity judges.
Curious chef creates cooking utensils for kids.
Top Chef Junior, following in the footsteps of Master Chef Junior and Chopped Junior, is the latest cooking show in which young chefs can compete.
The New Mobile Menu The culinary horizons for weary travelers are fast expanding as food options take a surprising twist in the road and pit stops morph into experiences.
Photo Credit: Oliur Rahman
ime spent travelling hasn’t traditionally been seen as time well-spent, but rather as a means to an end, a necessary inconvenience. Recently though, brands have begun to help people embrace their time on the move by turning journeys into high class culinary experiences where the destination is simply part of the menu. One brand leading the way in creating culinary adventures is Weight Watchers. In May, they set sail on the first, ‘Live Life Fully’ Caribbean cruise, where for seven nights the brand aimed to, “help people enjoy what they love - including food, people, experiences and the energy that comes with good health.” Not only is the cruise indicative of a growing trend, it signals a fundamental change in the way we think about food on the go. Weight Watchers has changed the paradigm - shifting dieting from being a burdensome chore by seamlessly integrating it into an enjoyable vacation experience. The trend of creating more holistic experiences around meals is gathering steam in markets around the globe. The idea that the journey and the food are interlinked has also been explored by UberEats and Volvo in Tokyo. Only this time the focus is not around health but opulence. The collaboration provides customers with an, ‘All Star Restaurant’ where customers drive around in a Volvo XC90 that stops at several of the city’s best restaurants – becoming, in essence a “rolling buffet.” Customers are served different courses and champagne directly in their car seats, all while drinking in the sights of their constantly changing surroundings. At the end of the trip, customers are dropped off precisely where they started, enriched and satiated, having completed a culinary journey rather than a traditional trip from A to B. Whether through novelty or distraction, companies like these are seeking to encourage consumers by creating engaging travel experiences that support their products and enhance their brands. And it seems to be catching on.
While many of us graze unhealthily to distract ourselves while traveling, Weight Watchers have cleverly integrated dieting into the joys of a Caribbean cruise experience.
Photo Credit: Oliur Rahman
was invested by American Airlines on customer experience, completely redesigning its first class meal service.
of drivers admit to eating behind the wheel â€“ despite the dangers.
drop in your taste budsâ€™ sensitivity to sweet and salty foods on an airplane.
spent on leisure travel each year in the US.
of all American meals are now eaten in the car.
The 5th most important attribute of a restaurant experience, is the location.
New food trends are blurring the lines between healthy eating and self indulgence. Organic, farm-to-table, vegan – three of the biggest
savvy. Meet the ‘impossible burger’ — a vegetarian
trends spearheading our move toward healthier,
burger from Impossible Foods that looks, feels,
more conscientious eating. But recently, we are
tastes and smells like ground beef, even though it’s
seeing the emergence of foods that seem to buck
made entirely of plants. It even ‘bleeds’ when cut
the norm in both form and appearance. Whether
open. The team spent five years researching what it
purely subversive or the reflection of growing
is about meat that people love - the sizzle, the smell,
consumer nostalgia and a desire to revert to the
the juicy first bite. They then set out to find exactly
past, brands are making headlines with some
the right plant ingredients and science needed to
unexpected food and drink releases.
recreate those sensory elements. The company’s aim isn’t to defy health trends, but instead open
Discernibly natural and organic foods sell for a
them up to as wide an audience as possible, even
hefty premium in stores. Imperfect Produce has
if that means creating something that seems a
responded to this trend, making a living by buying
bit unnatural. Democratizing healthy eating has
and re-selling ‘ugly’ foods and marketing their
become big business.
imperfections as proof that they weren’t artificially cultivated to a cosmetic standard. So what’s driving this trend of food blatantly designed for aesthetic quirkiness? For some, it seems to be less of a backlash against the perfectly packaged and more of a marketing ploy that appreciates the ‘Instagramability’ of weird inventions. We’re not talking about baseball sized strawberries in February here, the
Brands are scrambling to make satisfying our most indulgent desires easy, accessible and healthy enough not to put us in an early grave
trend is far more grotesque. We’re talking about things like black-ink gyoza dumplings, pink coffee
— behold the vegan junk food market. Pizza Hut
and the mermaid-toast that sparked an entire lurid
just released their new vegan cheese option to
sub-trend in ‘unicorn food.’
cater to an increasing number of vegans, following a similar move by Domino’s in Israel. By Chloe,
On the other end of the spectrum, some brands are
a rapidly expanding vegan fast food chain was
satyisfying the demand of those who seek to be
awarded Grub Street’s most successful restaurant
simultaneously healthy and naughty. A new trend
opening back in 2015 and London’s street food
has risen around engineering produce to resemble
stand Biff ’s Jack Shack, claims it was, ‘sent from the
things they are not. Some brands have taken a
future to save vegan food’ by serving ‘filthy junk
chance on the idea that consumers committed
food.’ These are just a few brands marketing their
to being vegetarian or vegan might still crave
products on the basis that while legitimately vegan
indulgent food and snacks — they’re being proven
they’re seasoned with a little vulgar indulgence.
Photo Credit: Jenny Dettrick
Today’s Specials 01 ‘Shamrock Shake’
A green milkshake designed to liven up your St Patrick’s day celebration.
02 Black Burger
Released worldwide for Halloween and always available in Japan.
03 ‘Adult Meal’
Israel offered an ‘adults meal’ on Valentine’s day 2017, complete with adult toy.
04 Quesadilla with KitKat Inside
A sweet variety of the traditional quesadilla that includes chocolate and Kit Kat wafer pieces inside.
05 Sweet & Crunchy Tenders
made with a shortbread cookie coating that provides both a sweet flavor and crunchy texture.
06 Cherry Pie and Unicorn Frappuccino
A multicolored mix of unicorn inspired fruit flavors.
07 Mushroom - Infused coffee
Mushrooms add powerful antioxidants and immune support to your morning cup of joe.
08 Soup in a bottle
A ready to drink vegan soup broth - say goodbye to juicing and hello to souping.
09 Algae du jour
Try adding this powerful superfood to anything from smoothies and ice cream to salad dressing and even cookies.
10 Crosushi A buttery spin on sushi, replacing seaweed with a croissant.
“ ... even though it’s made entirely of plants ...
... it ‘bleeds’ when cut open.
” Photo Credit: Peter Tarasiuk
With Marijuana rapidly becoming mainstream and legal across the country, new creative uses and applications abound. We explore some of the most interesting developments in new weed-based supplements and food products.
Photo Credit: Emre Gencer
We’re witnessing a marijuana gold rush, with companies betting huge amounts of money on the industry.
In 2012 the first states, Colorado and Washington,
high. While most people probably think of brownies
legalized recreational marijuana for adults. This
when talking about marijuana edibles, there are end-
was the beginning of a steady movement that now
less ways marijuana can be infused into food and not
has over 50% of states in the USA (currently 29)
always in a way that gets the consumer — ‘high’.
legalizing recreational marijuana use in some form. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana In this modern day marijuana gold rush, companies
but there are also CBDs, the group of chemicals
are betting huge amounts of money on the industry.
used for most of the medicinal applications of the
These investments have resulted in a new under-
plant. Any dispensary in a state with medicinal or
standing of the marijuana plant itself, its many
recreational marijuana laws will have a wide range
chemical varients and how they can be used for a
of edible products from baked goods to candies,
wide range of purposes.
sodas and other snack foods, not all of which are solely meant to get you ripped.
Food products are just one of the most interesting, and potentially profitable applications of marijua-
Infusing food with cannabis has left the dorm room
na. The most common and well known form of food
and entered the American kitchen.
product associated with marijuana is the edible — often a sugary treat that gets you really, really
Most people probably think of brownies when talking about marijuana edibles but there are endless ways marijuana can be infused into food. Andrew Sacks-Hoppenfeld
Apart from THC and CBD, scientists have also start-
used to treat canine anxiety. Instead of feeding
ed to extract aromatic terpenes from the plants.
your dog Xanax or Prozac (yes, that’s a thing) you
Terpenes are the fragrant oils that give cannabis it’s
can feed them low-dose marijuana treats, tested
pungent smell and taste. Just a few drops of ter-
to achieve the same calming and anxiety reducing
pene concentrate can add tremendous and unique
effect as a wide range of pharmaceuticals and
flavor to foods.
narcotics, all while boasting fewer side effects and no risk of addiction.
Bong Appetit, a show on Viceland, explores how chefs can incorporate various parts of the plant into
The monetary and technological investment in
traditional dishes. The show invites professionals
marijuana based products has resulted in new
and famous chefs from around the country to cook
uses for a plant that was once considered a ‘gate-
a marijuana infused meal from their weed kitchen
way drug’. These advances are demonstrating that
in California. These high-end meals use THC, CBD,
marijuana can be used and consumed in myriad
terpenes and raw plant matter to create balanced
and delicious meals that just happen to include marijuana.
With today’s consumers taking a more open minded approach to the plant, its use in food products
The trend is also penetrating far beyond the tradi-
is driving innovation, creativity and revenue for a
tional food market, influencing more unexpected
new market estimated to be worth $31.4 billon by
markets such as pet food and treats. CBD, the
2021, according to a report by Brightfield Group, a
non-psychoactive element in marijuana is being
cannabis market research firm.
HOW WE EXPERIENCE FOOD—HOW WE SEE IT, SMELL IT AND HOW WE TASTE IT— HAS BECOME AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE PACKAGING. FOR CHEFS, BRANDS AND RESTAURANTEURS, THE EMPHASIS ON PRESENTATION HAS MASSIVE IMPLICATIONS.
Photo Credit: Matthew Roharik
Packaging is defined in the Merriam Webster
the chef, along with his #ChefsForPuertoRico
dictionary as: “the presentation of a person,
network and volunteers. served hot meals and
product, or action in a particular way.”
sandwiches in Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities by
Packaging has driven many innovations in an
mobilizing food trucks and setting up kitchens
industry where presentation is as precious and
across the island. This campaign was covered
premeditated as the product it portrays . Customers
on Twitter and Instagram, securing wide press
have come to expect more from ‘packaging’ than
coverage and gaining Jose followers and customers
fancy logos, nutritional education and best-before
for his New York restaurant.
dates. Brands have realized that the experience that gets wrapped around products is as important
In a more risky buzz-generating gamble, some
as the physical packaging and even the food itself.
restaurants have declared their establishments
For today’s customers and brands, ‘packaging’
Trump free zones. Such ploys can backfire. When
has grown to signify something much larger — a
Mila Kunis, a spokeswoman for Jim Beam, used
destination, an exploration and an invitation to try
Twitter to fire a shot at the current administration,
it was a step too far for some fans of the brand. A
DIGITAL DISHES These days, Instagram is the de-facto presentation
boycott followed. Clearly consumers are paying close attention, and some people still prefer their food served without a helping of politics.
layer for the food experience. It’s de rigeur to snap new restaurants even design their interiors to
SENDING CELLPHONES BACK TO THE KITCHEN
encompass instagrammable signature features, as
Some experiences are packaged around a rejection
people’s social media habits become just as relevant
of contemporary norms and are designed for
as their menu preferences. According to recent
those seeking a refuge from the real-time. At the
research 8-35 year-olds spend five whole days a
Japanese ramen chain, Ichiran, service is a huge
year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30
part of the dining experience. You’ll be asked to
per cent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram
leave your phone off and keep conversation to a
presence was weak.
bare minimum. The idea is that, “there’s something
a photo of your food before actually eating it. Many
to be said for allowing yourself to simply focus on Does this mean a chef ’s food is only as good as
the food by isolating yourself from the rest of the
her last post? Instagram has become a sort of
world” (Ichiran 2018). At Ichiran there is no talking
interactive menu, where would-be customers
to waiters, they claim you’ll, “enjoy a higher level
browse pictures of dishes and read comments
of Ramen,” when you sit silently at their flavor
on atmosphere — often choosing what to eat
concentration booths. Orders are placed by
based on how the food looks and the vibe of
pressing a button and handing a slip of paper
through a bamboo covered window. Meals are
So, how are chefs translating a compelling visual presentation and social media presence into actual foot traffic? One approach is challenging an old taboo and bringing politics directly to the table. Celebrity chef Jose Andres decided to get involved in a social project to boost his social media presence,
silently delivered through the same window. While Ichiran put a spotlight on their food by removing all distractions, others appeal to more ethical concerns by limiting their packaging’s impact on the environment.
and appeal to new customers. To reach his goal,
ECO FRIENDLY PACKAGING Circular design is the philosophy or trend of removing as much physical packaging as possible. The average American produces over 4 pounds of trash per day. In an attempt to address this insanity some companies and grocery stores have begun to introduce new products and systems to mitigate the problem. An app called Miwa, launched in the Czech Republic, delivers custom quantities of groceries to customers in reusable packaging. Algramo, a Chilean company, is developing a system for selling products in reusable containers in local convenience stores. Even the coffee market is getting a facelift. CupClub, is a UK subscription service for reusable lids. TrioCup offer an origamistyle folding cup with attached lid. Both innovations have won funding for further development. And
THANKS TO RESEARCH AT THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, THERE NOW EXISTS AN EDIBLE AND BIODEGRADABLE FOOD PACKAGING MATERIAL MADE OUT OF CASEIN, A MILK PROTEIN. yet however noble these and similar products are, they are still in their infancy. Larger brands may seize the opportunity to fast-track mass-market introduction of such reputation enhancing features. On the industrial scale, there is an interesting trend emerging around packaging that is actually edible itself. Thanks to research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there now exists an edible and biodegradable food packaging material made out of casein, a milk protein. Apart from doing away with the environmental blight of individually wrapped items, edible packaging actually adds nutritional value to the snack itâ€™s wrapping. In addition to adding protein, the casein packaging is up to 500 times more effective than plastic at blocking oxygen from the food it protects, allowing items to stay fresh longer.
It can also be used in place of chemicals as a protective spray on pizza boxes or in place of sugar coatings on cereal flakes. Unfortunately, don’t expect to be munching your string cheese wrapper just yet, the process currently takes too long to be a viable replacement for plastics. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture it will take another 2-3 years of development before mass production can begin. There are however a few products currently on the market that you can actually try. Delta, a UK based company, helps restaurants make sauces in edible packets and Evoware is selling Belgian waffles wrapped in edible seaweed. Compostable/biodegradable flatware and containers have been around a bit longer. Places like Whole Foods continue to use these, and their quality has steadily improved over the past few years to the point where they are now indistinguishable from their plastic predecessors. Along with flatware, another major pollutant comes from discarded plastic water bottles. Icelandic product designer, Ari Jónsson, decided he needed to take action and has fashioned a biodegradable water bottle from algae.
INTERACTIVE PACKAGING Although the majority of innovation in packaging is of the digital or environmental variety, there are a few brands who are taking packaging to the next level. Kuvee has developed a Wi-Fi enabled, ‘smart-bottle’ that replaces the conventional paper labels on wine bottles. A full LED touchscreen now allows customers to rate and share their reviews right from the bottle. Following in the unnecessary innovation trend, we also have the Pizza Hut, “Blockbuster Box” a tabletop projector powered by your smartphone and your used pizza delivery box. A slightly more utilitarian invention is the McBike — a McDonald’s box that helps you get burgers and shakes home on a bike without worrying about spillage!
ARE WE RUINING OUR APPETITES? For millennials and Gen X’ers, ‘instagram-ability’ risks taking precedence over taste and may distract from the social experience of enjoying a meal with other people. While Instagram can introduce you to new foods and cultural phenomena, the focus on appearance and sharing for social currency isn’t without potential pitfalls. According to the Journal of Consumer Psychology, “if we spend too much time repeatedly viewing such foods… this can lead to pre-satiation. That is, you’re already a bit tired of the food before you even start eating it.” Is over-sharing ruining our appetites? Regardless of the answer, there will continue to be further innovations in food packaging and experience, and while some will definitely make things more interesting for the consumer, the innovations that really improve our lives are the environmentally minded variety. Although water bottles made from algae and seaweed wrappers aren’t the sexiest of trends, they definitely represent the most noble variety. It could be that sustainability innovations are what will ensure we’re all around to experience the next big thing.
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CHEFS TURN OLD MEMORIES INTO NEW DISHES EQUAL PARTS NOSTALGIA AND NOVELTY. When developing a restaurant or menu, chefs and restaurateurs often look to culture to find new ways to connect with customers and lure in new ones. Most recently, chefs are looking to the past and creating new dishes that connect to old memories. Whether itâ€™s through incorporating child hood favorites or dusting off forgotten ingredients, chefs are reimagining our favorite foods in bold new ways. Flip the page to see five examples of chefs that are cooking up the future by tapping into our collective past.
MOMOFUKU MILK BAR David Chang, the highly successful chef and restauranteur has given a facelift to a product that has waned in popularity: milk. Unsurprisingly, at his popular Milk Bar chain everything is milk flavored. Along with milk, the main ingredient in most of his cookies and cakes is corn flakes. When you visit Milk Bar you can opt for a bottle of Cereal Milk, or a milk flavored ice cream with corn flakes on top.
KELLOGGS CEREAL BARS Likely inspired by Cereal Killer Cafe in London’s Shoreditch district, Kelloggs, everyone’s favorite cereal company has started opening actual cereal bars. Originally a cheap, bottom of the bin breakfast
MAX BRENNER CHOCOLATE BAR Who doesn’t love chocolate? Max Brenner’s chocolate bar has locations worldwide with a focus on everybody’s favorite food addiction — high quality chocolate — the most ubiquitous sweet on
staple, these popular bars are taking cereal to new
earth. Whether you are drawn to the restaurant for
heights. When you go to the ‘Cereal Café’ you can
a chocolate fondue spread or just a standard waffle
expect a ‘gourmet’ breakfast experience. A bowl of
drizzled with fudge, Max Brenner’s bar focuses on
cereal from the Kelloggs Ceral Bar will run you over
sweet treats that everyone knows and loves.
$7, but the memories it’s bound to stir up are priceless.
SPAM Spam is a canned food that everyone has heard of but few outside of Hawaii have dared to eat in the last 30 years. Most people think of Spam as a canned “meat-product” akin to cat food, but many
BERCO’S POPCORN Everyone is familiar with the standard bag of popcorn. But Berco’s Popcorn, located in Chicago, Illinois, has gone far beyond standard. Their locations boast a wide selection of flavors and
chefs are using it as a novelty ingredient in high end
sizes of the delicious gourmet variety. And while a
dishes. Chefs like Kosmas Koukoulis, the owner of
popcorn store seems like a pretty low-cost option
Uncle’s Hawaiaan Grindz, in Baltimore, uses Spam
for a snack, Berco’s has defied all expectation by
as a key ingredient in several of his dishes. He
introducing, “Billion Dollar Popcorn” alongside their
grew up with Spam and has many customers who
more affordable varieties. Unsurprisingly given the
frequent his restaurant solely for a high-end twist
name, it’s sold a la carte, at $5 per kernel.
on the old ration food of their childhood.
Whether you’re looking to impress that special date or test the overdraft notifications on your mobile banking app, the trend in uber-expensive junk food and novelty dishes will provide you with many options. A quick browse through your discovery tab in Instagram will reveal a number of food establishments taking a more high-end approach to customer acquisition.
The most expensive ice cream in the world — a gold leaf covered ice cream sundae from Serendipity — will run you a cool $1,000. However, if you’re looking for instant gratification
$1,000 ICE CREAM SUNDAE
Check out these five examples of chefs that are rolling out the red carpet for low-end food.
Norma’s is in the lobby of the Parker Meridian Hotel in the heart of NYC. Widely known for their food and long lines, most people are there for the brunch offerings. However, a select
look elsewhere, customers
few come for something a bit
must reserve this ridiculously
more indulgent, the notorious,
indulgent treat 48 hours
‘Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata.’
For $2,000, Norma’s dares you lobster frittata.
Another gilded treat is next on the list. At the Manila Social Club in Miami, you can get a handgilded 24k pure gold leaf donut for only $100 or $1,200 for a ‘Golden Dozen.’ These donuts are hand made with imported sweet Ube yam from the Philippines,
$100 GOLD COVERED DONUTS
to expense their caviar topped
Nino’s Bellissima Pizza is the brainchild of Nino Slimaj a restauranteur who was looking to get some attention in the oversaturated NYC pizza game.
Cristal champagne, and twice
He’s known for two things:
dusted in gold leaf.
shamelessly marketing his restaurants in any wild way
he can and the $1,000 pizza When you’re done at the poker
pie. When he introduced the
table you can roll the dice on
new $1,000 pizza to the menu
your health at Fleur Burger in
he finally succeeded in getting
Las Vegas by ordering a burger
the attention he craved. Now,
truly fit for a whale. The Fleur
customers flock to the restaurant
Burger is constructed of wagyu
to order from his famously
beef, foie gras and truffles, and
balanced menu, which includes
complimented by a 20 year old
options from the classic .99 cent
bottle of wine. If the meat itself
pizza to the $1,000 behemoth,
doesn’t give you a good sweat, the
slathered in six different kinds of
$5,000 bill certainly will.
caviar and a lobster.
CHEFS ROLLING OUT THE RED CARPET FOR LOW END FOOD.
THE ECONOMICS OF WASTE
Rapid innovation in food production has proven to be a double-edged sword. It seems the more we make, the more we waste.
asted food is the pits. It’s one of the most harmful and far reaching trends in our modern culture. If you care about climate change, deforestation, water extraction, biodiversity, the economy or your own wallet, you care about food waste.
The American food market generated $640,346m in revenue in 2017, making it the leading food market globally (Statista 2018) – ahead of even highly populated countries like China, with more than
Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year— approximately 1.3 billion tons— gets lost or wasted.
four times the US population. Partly due to new farming innovations, global food production has increased by 17% in the last 30 years (Forbes 2018). While these numbers represent the achievements of a globalized and industrialized world, there is a downside to this massive uptick in production. 50% of the land (USDA 2018) and about 80% of freshwater in the US is used exclusively for food production, yet over 30% (133 billion pounds) of the overall food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. (EPA 2018) The ramifications of this statistic are far reaching: it represents a major squandering of resources used in food production, including water, land, energy, labor and capital. The increase in resource-intensive production techniques has also resulted in higher greenhouse gas emissions that are a major contributor to
Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.
climate change. Beginning with the production, harvest and distribution stages, down to retail and final household consumption, there is a disturbing pattern developing in which inefficiency results in needless and huge waste throughout the entire supply chain. Some responsibility for this loss lies with the growing agricultural industry, but a hefty portion also lies with us, the consumer. Whether it’s rejecting food for cosmetic reasons or shopkeepers overloading shelves to entice customers, every level
In industrialized countries, more than 40% of losses/waste happen at retail and consumer levels.
of the chain holds some of the responsibility.
Photo Credit: ChiccoDodiFC
A recent report by the Wallace Center at Winrock International, summarizes the scale of the challenge: “Despite its productivity, the conventional food system in the United States is fraught with inequity, negative environmental impacts and threats to human health” (CommunityFood 2018).
fruit trees that are neglected. These are places where fruit goes unharvested and is left to rot. For example, the City Food Policy Council of Salt Lake City partnered with the Green Urban Lunch Box (GULB) organization to tackle the problem of spoiled and unharvested fruits, by starting the FruitShare program. Staff and volunteers of GULB are helping homeowners prune trees and harvest
Taking a step back from all this negativity and
fruit to avoid waste and the loss of perfectly good
looking ahead, we can clearly see that the world
food. In 2016 the FruitShare program harvested
of food production and mass consumption needs
125,000 pounds of fruit which they distributed to
to evolve. There are positive signs from initiatives
homeowners and local food assistance programs.
all over the world that are revolutionizing the food supply-chain from production to consumption.
Though local food production in urban areas is no mass revolution, it offers a hopeful signal and
Food production: think globally, farm locally.
suggests a growing awareness of the problem
The world has become a smaller place and
communities, remove barriers to healthy food and
consumers have become accustomed to eating a
improve the lives of everyone involved.
in society. Programs that match unused land with volunteers build social capital throughout
mind-bogglingly wide array of products, regardless of season. Thankfully, the ‘local’ movement is resources more effectively and reduce the pollution
Food distribution: Dumpster divine.
brought on by large scale food transportation. One
We’ve all heard of bakeries throwing out perfectly
example is the rise of nonprofit organizations like
good bread, and have perhaps seen dumpsters full
Alaska Community Action on Toxics, who created
of edible food at the rear of large supermarkets,
Yarducopia — a yardshare program that relies on
but is it time we begin to consider our part in
sharing economy principles. The program connects
that cycle of waste? In industrialized countries
landowners who lack the time to garden with
about 40% of food waste occurs at the retail and
would-be gardeners lacking the land necessary
consumption stages. This is partly due to the high
to cultivate food. Produce is shared between the
‘appearance quality standards’ regarding weight,
homeowner and the volunteer, and 10% is donated
size, shape and look of produce. It is further
to a charity of their choice.
compounded by an increase over the last decade
driving a number of solutions that aim to utilize
in the amount of food available for purchase in all Another encouraging production trend is taking
root in a decidedly more urban neighborhood, taking advantage of undesirable, vacant property
Consumers expect to see fully stacked shelves.
to cultivate food locally. Using free urban land
Often perfectly edible products are discarded
for agricultural purposes is just the first step in
when they reach their sell-by dates. Now, due to
improving the food system and making it more
the popularity of discount supermarkets it is easier
community based. City councils across the US are
and more ‘affordable’ to let food ‘get lost’ – at least
increasingly aware of cultivated gardens possessing
Fortunately, there are many initiatives to prevent
Food-recycling is another way to reduce waste.
and reduce food waste. Berlin-based shop ‘original
In June 2017, west-coast retailer Salt & Straw
unverpackt’ (translates to ‘orginally unpackaged’)
sought to raise awareness of food waste by
opened in 2014 stocking food in an old-fashioned
launching their ‘Rescued Food’ ice cream range.
way: instead of mutiple brands fighting for
The ice cream shop partnered with local non-
attention, the store features far fewer choices — for
profit organizations who supplied them with food
example only two choices of rice are on offer. This
collected from restaurants, grocery stores and
is paired with a bulk shopping experience where
markets, while still fit to eat.
customers must bring their own containers to carry
Salt & Straw chose to pay full market price for this
food home. The initial goal was to reduce waste
unconventional source of ingredients in order to
generated by food packaging — but it ended up
prove the economic value of surplus food.
helping to avoid overly staked shelves and ‘taught’
Using this ‘rescued food’ they created new
consumers to be make decisions more consciously
ice cream flavors including whey-preserved
(NY Times 2018). In the last few years operations like
strawberry ice cream and Banana Bread Pudding
this have started to appear in many countries.
Learning to love waste.
France takes food waste even more seriously,
It’s not just the little guys making a difference:
food waste by supermarkets. Recently introduced
nations and trade associations have recognized the
legislation compels French supermarkets to
problem too. The U.S Department of Agriculture
donate unsold, edible food to charities and
and the Environmental Protection Agency launched
becoming the first country in the world to forbid
the, “U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions,” where businesses and organizations aim to reduce
French supermarket chain, “Carrefour” not only
their own food loss and waste by 50% by the year
donates unsold food to charities but creates
2030 (EPA 2018).
additional value by transforming damaged and inedible produce into biofuel that powers the
Three leading food industry bodies — the Grocery
Manufacturers Association (representing food and beverage companies), the Food Marketing Institute
As yet such innovations are scattered and
(representing food retailers), and the National
relatively small in scale. However the threat
Restaurant Association (representing the food
of regulation looms and may prompt more
service industry) — are partnering to form the,
businesses to take action in the hope of avoiding
“Food Waste Reduction Alliance.”
the imposition of legislation. And while industry is traditionally resistant to regulation, it is
Alliance members reduce food waste within their
much more responsive to consumer preference
own operations and support programs such as,
“Reducing Consumer Confusion on Product Date Labels” by simplifying the labeling procedure.
Consumers ultimately hold the power to demand
The current range of date labels creates much
more responsibly sourced and produced
confusion. Consumer are faced with sell-by
products. And the signs suggest we’re increasingly
dates, use-by dates, expires-on labels, best-before
favoring brands placing an emphasis on
instructions and best-by dates. It’s no surprise
sustainability. So go ahead, grow those beans
many people play it safe and discard food
in a neighbor’s yard, eat tomatoes from the
prematurely (EPA 2018).
garden of your local playground, and pick up that misshapen apple.
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