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The Future 100 : Trends and change to watch in 2018

JWT’s Innovation Group has again published its always fabulous report, The Future 100 2018, an annual snapshot of the year ahead and the most compelling trends to keep on the radar. Food and drink make up a sizeable part of its cutting-edge insights.

Today, the pace of change is faster than ever. Trends scale rapidly through digital networks, while technology like augmented reality and 5G are transforming the internet. And marketers are navigating a sophisticated consumer landscape where they are assessed on the nuances of their visual language and representation.

The report charts 10 emerging trends across 10 sectors, spanning culture, technology, travel, marketing, food & drink, beauty, retail, luxury, health, and lifestyle. Highlights include:

Intersectionality: “Intersectionality” is resurging in popular discourse—both in media outlets trying to reach the highly diverse generation Z, and among diversity chiefs.

Algorithmic food design: Having revolutionised art and sculpture, algorithms are now making inroads in food design, creating unique and Instagram-optimized shapes.

New wave men’s grooming: Men’s skincare was one of the year’s most-searched beauty trends. Now, retailers and design objects reflect a sophisticated clientele moving beyond stereotypes.

Remote on demand: Services like Blink by Black Tomato offer pop-up travel in remote locations that take personalization to the extreme, as wealthy travelers eschew cookie-cutter experiences.

Ten Food & Drink Trends Snippets (download report for the detail)

The New Basics:

Organic, natural, and sustainable attributes are increasingly becoming an entry-level expectation for consumers, rather than a luxury — and retailers are competing to offer these at knock-down prices.

Why it’s interesting: When it comes to food, drink and personal care, consumers are prioritising items that are natural. As values such as organic and non-GMO become the new normal rather than premium, how can brands differentiate themselves?

Farming 2.0:

Vertical farms, a popular experiment in urban agriculture, may finally be poised for a mainstream breakthrough.

Why it’s interesting: The rise in urban farming illustrates that the demand for fresh produce shows no signs of lagging. The global population is expected to balloon to over 9.5 billion by 2050, according to the UN, and eco-conscious consumers are eager to reduce their footprints — without sacrificing their health.

Food tech:

Silicon Valley is not only reimagining food, but finally making its high-tech spin on nutrition accessible.

Why it’s interesting: Silicon Valley food startups are finally being taken seriously, which could lead them to reshape the wider food and drink market.


Vegan food is crossing into the mainstream like never before, popping up on the menus of popular restaurants and even fast-food chains. As consumers begin to realise the effects of meat on their health, as well its carbon and water footprints, they are adapting their diets and seeking plant-based alternatives.

Why it’s interesting: Vegan food is becoming standard, as consumers in urban areas expect a vegan option on the menu. In many cases vegan food is no longer being marketed as vegan; it’s targeting all health-conscious and eco-friendly consumers.

Mood Food:

As consumers begin to appreciate the effect of diet on mood, food and drink brands are catching up and updating their products and services to look beyond physical fuel.

Why it’s interesting: Consumers are starting to appreciate the impact that food can have on their mood and mental health. They will increasingly expect brands to deliver products that don’t just taste good, but deliver a feel-good factor too.

Algorithmic food design:

Pastry chef Dinara Kasko, formerly an architect, is bringing food design squarely into the 21st century.

Why it’s interesting: Though algorithms have revolutionised art and sculpture design, they have yet to reach the world of food and drink. In the era of Instagram, expect that to change, as creatives bring in new technology to create ever more unique shapes.

Trendy teetotalism:

Today’s wellness-focused consumers are turning their backs on alcohol, but still looking for a premium nonalcoholic

Why it’s interesting: The global alcohol market saw a sluggish 2016, including the first decline in consumption in the US since 2011, according to figures from the International Wine and Spirits Record.

By comparison, the global non-alcoholic beverage market is projected to reach $1.6-trillion by 2025, up from just over $967-billion in 2016, according to a 2017 report from Grand View Research. In the future, look for more elevated experiences geared specifically towards non-alcoholic drinkers.

AI food:

Artificial intelligence (AI) points to a future of effortless transparency when it comes to the food on our plate.

Why it’s interesting: In a connected world obsessed with food photography, image recognition may well be the easiest route to calorie counting. AI will become commonplace in the food and drink industry, enabling consumers to simply point their phones and discover all the facts about their food.

Three experiential dining trends:

Food and drink experiences are becoming a key source of entertainment for consumers, and are being viewed as a cultural experience as much as a form of socialising. These include such concepts: Cannabis Fine Dining, Foodie Theme Parks, and Extreme Immersion.

Why it’s interesting: Consumers en masse today consider themselves foodies. Food and drink are now being seen through the lens of experience culture, as a shared cultural experience and an intellectual pursuit all in one—or, failing that, another neat thing to share on Instagram.

Three hot ingredients:

Another year, another spate of “it” ingredients in the constantly evolving world of food trends. What’s next?

  • Pandan: If Nigella Lawson anoints pandan the “next big thing,” it must be so. “I think it’s going to be the new matcha,” says Lawson of the sweet, pungent east Asian leaf. In its native Southeast Asia, it is famed for its unusual aroma, which is compared to nuts and popcorn.
  • Purple sweet potato: “With their bright violet colour and dense nutritional profile, you’re going to want to grab a bag of purple sweet potatoes ASAP,” declares Shape magazine. The ingredient, already big in Asia, is making its way stateside.
  • Sherry: Following craft ales and gins, sherry is the latest beverage to experience the artisan treatment.

Why it’s interesting: Food trends are evolving faster than ever, propelled by a constant desire for newness, novelty and visually striking attributes for Instagram. Consumers are also becoming more adventurous, as food culture becomes a primary lifestyle focus and weekend recreation.

For all 100 trends, download your complimentary copy of this brilliant and beautiful report here for examples and analysis of the key consumer trends to come.

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