The way we cook, eat, buy, and store our food is undergoing radical change. Emerging technologies, from the Internet of Things to augmented reality, present us with endless possibilities to improve the way we produce and cook our food. But without good design, these will only ever be possibilities. To bring this technology into the homes — and the hands — of everyday people, it has to be shaped into people-centered products and services. We’ve identified 10 key areas that we believe will play a vital role in shaping the future of cooking — the change drivers.
- Home-growing: As consumers become ever more discerning about food production and distribution, home-growing is an increasingly popular alternative. New approaches to growing, from communal gardens to home hydroponics, will enable more people to grow their own herbs and vegetables, or even algae and bugs.
- Energy: We urgently need to change the way we consume and manage our energy resources. Traditional resources such as fossil fuels are seriously harming our planet, and are, besides, finite resources. Alternative energy will relieve the pressure to reduce consumption, and offer new opportunities to reduce costs, decentralize energy production, and more.
- Urbanization: For the first time in history, more people live in cities than in the countryside. For most city dwellers, small-space living is a necessary reality, and as the population — and urbanization — increases, space will come at an ever-increasing premium.
- Materials: Products are, ultimately, resources that should either be used to make new products, or be returned to the biological ecosystem. When we throw out used, worn-out products, not only do we waste the potential to re-use those materials, but in doing so we create further problems, filling up landfills or releasing toxic fumes when burnt.
- Food distribution: Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of where their food comes from, and how it is produced. People are demanding more quality, transparency, convenience, and less packaging from their supermarkets.
- Automation: Technology will enable us to automate more processes than ever, with huge advancements in artificial intelligence and machine motor skills. Sensors can connect appliances to the Internet of Things, creating a smarter kitchen, that could learn over time and eventually take over tasks.
- Changing eating habits: Since the 1980’s the average time spent on cooking in the UK has more than halved, and this is believed to be indicative of global behavior. Consumers are looking for ways that enable them to live healthy lives despite their busy schedules. However, this is accompanied by an “all-in” cooking behavior, where entire evenings or even days are devoted to cooking high-quality meals.
- Population explosion: By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.1 billion people, and according to the United Nations food production will need to rise by 70% to meet an increasing demand. People all around the globe will be forced to change what and how they eat. Red meat production will decrease, and insects and algae will be a new big food source, while water is set to become the “oil of the future”.
- Food waste: Despite becoming a hot topic in recent years, food waste continues to be a massive challenge on a global scale. We produce an excessive amount of food; the average person throws away 50 kg of food every year. And instead of composting it, to recover some of the nutrients and energy, it often ends up on the landfill, taking up space and giving off harmful greenhouse gases.
- Rediscovering knowledge: With home-cooking in decline, consumers are losing basic cooking skills. This means that we increasingly need guidance and recommendations for both cooking and storing our food. Some consumers are turning back to traditional, low-tech solutions for storing and preserving food.
Watch this space for part two of our Future of Cooking series, which will explore the opportunity spaces that these change drivers have created.