Food & Drink

From the latest openings to new ingredients, a deep-dive into the landscape of food and drink

Food & Drink in 2021
21 : 12 : 21

This year, food brands united with consumers in a quest to build future-fit food systems, incorporating everything from climate consciousness to cultural rituals.

The Trend: Redemptive Diets

Black Urban Growers and the National Black Food and Justice Alliance at Norman’s farm by Nydia Blas, Atlanta Black Urban Growers and the National Black Food and Justice Alliance at Norman’s farm by Nydia Blas, Atlanta

In October, we published Redemptive Diets, our 2021 food and drink macrotrend. Here, we examined why global citizens are becoming aware of the need for all industries to have a positive impact on people, planet and profit, transforming how we eat and who we eat with. As a result, Redemptive Diets explores future-fit food systems that will support changing social values, protect precious resources and secure supply chains.

‘Global brands, producers and marketers are required to rectify the vast, negative impacts of their production, exploring how the less impactful solutions of old can be enhanced through technology,' explains Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory. Not only will these more resilient food systems allow us to define our cultural identities and fulfil our broader human needs, they will combine traditional and ancestral approaches with science to mitigate past problematic behaviours and create culturally and environmentally enriching experiences.

As we enter 2022, brands will need to refocus from mass production to catering for niche communities, identities and diets, realising how customers themselves are aligning their beliefs and hopes for the future with what they ingest and imbibe.

The Big Idea: Food and drink is decarbonising diets

Weighing up both consumer impacts and that of brands' supply chains, in February we examined how the sector is Decarbonising Diets.

Indeed, consumers are increasingly aware of the impact their food and drink consumption can have on the environment, while brands are using this rising wave of consciousness to tap into innovations in low-carbon and climate-positive products.

One such shift is the introduction of carbon labelling onto packaging and store pricing, allowing consumers to understand the carbon emissions of their shopping basket, thus helping to shape purchasing decisions and inspire offsetting.

Plant-based brand Quorn, for example, became the first major food marque in the UK to commit to adding carbon footprint information to its full range. Certified by the Carbon Trust, the labels are designed to support consumers ‘whom we know are actively trying to find ways to reduce their impact on the planet,' says Peter Harrison, Quorn's chief commercial officer.

Brands will need to move beyond carbon awareness and neutrality, however, by committing to carbon negativity. In the drinks category, BrewDog, Diageo and Air Co are already achieving this status by improving the eco-friendliness of their supply chain.

 Air Co, New York Air Co, New York

The Campaign: Crown Royal explores drinking in the metaverse

It’s A New World of Cocktails by Crown Royal, New York

In 2021, multiple sectors took the plunge into metaverse environments, inviting consumers to interact with brand offerings virtually. Using this new platform is Canadian whisky brand Crown Royal, whose video campaign, It’s a New World of Cocktails, presented a miniature fictional world, created using 3D printing.

This physical neighbourhood was supported by a ‘fully immersive platform’ in which 3D models enjoy Crown Royal's ready-to-drink cocktails while gaming with friends, playing basketball and socialising at a rooftop party. Understanding the opportunity for consumers to interact with the brand and each other across digital spaces, Crown Royal demonstrates how companies can build immersive branded worlds in order to engage and reach different audiences.

While the spirits sector is traditionally associated with heritage and provenance, this campaign highlights how modernising marketing strategies by applying familiar gaming aesthetics can introduce younger audiences to the world of whisky in an accessible and playful way.

The Interview: Voyage Foods uses molecules to future-proof food

Voyage Foods. Photography by Andria Lo Voyage Foods. Photography by Andria Lo

In October we spoke to Adam Maxwell, CEO of Voyage Foods, a food tech start-up exploring how reverse engineering can future-proof the world’s most popular foods.

The interview delved into the opportunities that scientifically engineered products can offer FMCG companies, such as easing supply chain strain and reliance on threatened crops.

By decoupling food from its source seeds, plants or animals, Voyage Foods is starting with popular categories such as chocolate, coffee and peanut butter. The company identifies the chemical elements in each and how the functionality of those specific molecules work, and then tries to find equivalents in more reliable and efficient sources. The resulting food alternatives are thus free from negative environmental and social implications.

'Our chocolate, for example, is made from grape seeds, sunflower seed meal and standard sugar. These alternative ingredients are some of the most widely produced in the world – meaning we're not contributing to the current issue of food instability,' explainsMaxwell.

While some consumers might be apprehensive about trying scientifically modified foods, brands can harness emotive communications when providing sustainable alternatives. 'We’re maintaining the connection to treat foods by combining novelty, nostalgia and technology,' adds Maxwell.

The Space: Pudu Pudu’s dessert bar is designed for social media

Pudu Pudu by Dr Oetker and design agency Uxus, Los Angeles Pudu Pudu by Dr Oetker and design agency Uxus, Los Angeles

In the spring we shared news of dessert bar Pudu Pudu, created by food brand Dr Oetker as an experiential and tech-friendly food hangout for Generation Z.

Designed to bring young people together in the inter-Covid period, the space opened in Los Angeles and was developed by retail design agency UXUS to be an emotive and immersive dining destination where visitors could seek indulgence as well as social connections. With pastel-coloured interiors and graphic backdrops suited to social media sharing, George Gottl, co-founder and chief creative officer at Uxus, notes: 'The space is designed to celebrate puddings as works of art by focusing on the making process and creating contrasts and balance between each visual element.'

From outdoor seating to table graphics that frame pudding bowls and immersive dessert-making sessions, Pudu Pudu maximises the role of dessert parlours as culturally significant meeting places for young people. Looking ahead to 2022, brands can take cues from such hangout spaces that blend food and entertainment.

Download the Future Forecast 2022 report

Now that you know what shaped 2021, discover what’s on the horizon. Download our Future Forecast 2022 report comprising 50 new trends across 10 key consumer sectors, insights from our analysts and interviews with global innovators.

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