Approaching the Future of Food, Fashionably

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Approaching the Future of Food, Fashionably

By Mark Baum, SVP Industry Relations, and Chief Collaboration Officer, FMI - 01/09/2017

I've always posited that food should be more like fashion. Similar to the latest trends in lapels and color palettes, consumers' palates are attuned to what's hot in the food world. Consumers may be willing to experiment with new foods and flavors, but counter to the world of fashion, what we've found in our consumer research is that it's not necessarily an event or the media, or even food suppliers, that influence their purchases. When it comes to a trusted authority on wellness, for instance, U.S. consumers primarily rely on their families, doctors and friends. Still, the primary food store ranks high on the list of supporters, and notably, the top 10 wellness allies are without a pop culture reference.

At this year's Midwinter Executive Conference, we're unveiling a research project with Kurt Salmon with perspective on some of the future forces that will offer our industry new realities on how our food will be produced, supplied and consumed. And while you won't necessarily see a food retail CEO featured at Fashion Week, these leaders are very much interested in how trends influence the shopper's wallet. What our business owners can't always focus on is their company 10 to 20 years out, which is where our association, FMI, can help guide. For instance, what do we do when we meet mass capacity on food production? Or, what are the technological trends that will change the way our world produces food? Or, what will the kitchen of the future look like in an increasingly integrated and connected world?

We'll explore three key segments:

  1. Realizations facing the food industry, as it looks to evolve in reaction to realized impacts from global macro trends and consumer expectations and desires;
  2. How consumers' migration patterns, life expectancy and economic yield will influence how, when, where and what food is produced and made accessible to them;
  3. A forecast of how major global forces will disrupt, and in many ways demand changes and advances in, the food production lifecycle.

These trends are expansive, but so are the outside factors Kurt Salmon identified that will tailor the segments among consumers, food and consumption. Among them, they identified geopolitical, economic, environmental, technological, scientific and health macro trends. What is consumed, why, and how, will be altered as accessibility, preferences and alternatives change for consumers, which has dramatic implications for food producers and retailers.

Taking a nod from the pages of GQ or Vogue, FMI will attempt to offer some predictability within the context of our shifting industry patterns.

The 2017 FMI Midwinter Executive Conference will feature a panel presentation regarding this groundbreaking and compelling research on the Future of Food. For more information about this invitation-only event, visit www.fmi.org/midwinter