Share this article
Combined with new and emerging diet trends, food technology lets food engineers and entrepreneurs give their imagination free rein while drawing on consumers’ concerns to create products intended to meet those new needs. Eggs without chickens, powdered meals and cultured meat are just some examples. But why do these achievements fail to appeal?
Awareness leading to new consumer habits
There are several food innovation issues:
- Environment: it takes an estimated 13,500 litres of water to produce 1 kg of beef.
- Population: demographic growth and obesity epidemic.
- Ethics: concerns about animal suffering, farming workplace conditions, the concept of a ‘fair price’, etc.
This context has led to the development of food innovations as well as a serious change in consumer habits, with a flow-on effect that impacts even the work of catering professionals. According to a CREDOC survey for France AgriMer, 19% of Europeans alternate between being omnivores and vegans. And 30% say they may become vegetarian. Regardless of their underlying motivation, this lifestyle choice affects the products provided by professionals, as they must adapt to it. Food technology has produced answers fail to meet consumer needs: eggs without chickens have been created yet struggle to be accepted. It seems that consumers’ expectations lie elsewhere: farmers being valued and fairly paid, and hens being protected from battery farming.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or perhaps the farmer?
Attempts to replace natural food with substitutes created in R&D labs have not really found a market. However, significant effort has gone into them, as can be seen with Hampton Creek and its multimillion dollar consortiums resulting in the ‘Just Scramble’, ‘Just Mayo’ and ‘Just Meat’ products. While we know that the current market climate is favourable to this type of initiative (rise in alternative diets and concerns about animal welfare), it is clear that selection criteria are actually much more complex: they involve animal welfare as well as less objective criteria such as nostalgia for farms, and the need for authenticity and reassurance. To achieve this, each person must be involved and fully committed in order to maintain a certain ethic without obscuring those seemingly timeless criteria, both on shelves as well as in out of home catering situations.
Cooperatives have been driving this approach, conveying the values of authenticity, transparency, freshness and ethics: the values behind our ‘Proud to cooperate’ approach!