The Future 100: Trends and change to watch in 2020

The JWT Innovation Group has published The Future 100: Trends and Change to Watch in 2020, its superbly presented 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.

The turn of the new decade heralds a marker for positive change after the despondent and unsettling mood that characterised the latter part of the 2010s. As brands and consumers alike eagerly adopt a cautiously optimistic outlook and band together, it’s setting a new tone for the year and decade ahead.

We’re seeing increased global activism, new ethically-driven value systems for brands and irresponsible companies and figureheads being held accountable for wider social and environmental issues. 

The Future 100 charts 10 emerging trends across 10 sectors, spanning marketing, culture, travel and more, plus a new finance section. Highlights include:

Culture: Optimistic futures. The past years have left societies worldwide adrift in unsettling political, environmental and economic times. Now, from Pantone’s spring/summer 2020 color palette to Lego’s challenge to “rebuild the world,” brands are offering a measured and thoughtful outlook on the future.

Tech & Innovation: The privacy era. With brands’ use of data largely perceived as underhanded and unethical, new course-correcting efforts point to a future where consumers own their data and are in full control of their digital identities.

Travel & Hospitality: Biocontributive travel. A wave of new initiatives in the travel industry are actively shifting to carbon-positive practices, indicating that the future of travel, tourism and hospitality will be rooted in conscious environmental contribution.

Brands & Marketing: Unconventional brand actions. Brands are finding success among an increasingly values-driven consumer base with unexpected moves that go against the capitalist grain to underline their commitment to social and economic causes.

Food & Drink: Anti-instagram interiors. Restaurants are turning away from the predictable and monotonous design vernacular fetishized by social media, instead creating dark and intimate spaces that prioritize in-person interaction over digital sharing.

Beauty: Blue beauty. Beauty brands are looking to the ocean for mindfully-sourced marine ingredients that align with consumers’ desire for natural and sustainable products. 

Retail: Ethical edits. As ethics are becoming a key determinant in purchase decisions, brands are curating products by value to help consumers shop purposefully. 

Luxury: Cannabis consultants. As cannabis culture becomes increasingly refined, experts are offering connoisseurship services to discerning customers.

Health: Psychedelic health. Psychedelic drugs are coming to the fore as the next generation of therapeutics, fueling a swathe of new wellbeing experiences.

Finance: Carbon credit. New systems are being put in place to drive actionable, environmentally responsible behavior by yoking credit to carbon footprints.

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

Future-proof recipes

As pressure to reduce food waste continues to mount, climate-conscious consumers are opening up to new recipes that are not only healthy for themselves, but for the planet too.

Why it’s interesting: Consumers are pivoting towards a “climate diet,” consuming less meat and dairy, and seeking environmentally-friendly alternatives. Food brands will need to start producing healthy and sustainable foods that not only feed consumers but also nourish the planet.

Anti-Instagram interiors

The newest restaurants are turning away from the monotonously predictable design vernacular fetishised by social media.

Why it’s interesting: These designs signal the end of a flashy “look at me” era that canonised experiences and spaces crafted expressly for sharing on social media. Going forward, consumers will respond to spaces that encourage them to live in the moment, rather than experiencing the world through the lens of their phone.

Transportational interiors

Seeking an edge that goes beyond their menus, cafés and restaurants are conjuring up elaborate interiors that transport consumers to exotic locales.

Why it’s interesting: Transportational interiors are emerging at a time when competition is heating up among cafés and restaurants. This is particularly true when it comes to capturing generation Z, which prizes experience and yearns for a story behind every cup of tea or coffee. These cafés and restaurants provide brief moments of escape from busy cities, without having to board a train, a plane — or a rocket ship.

Solving the surplus

Companies are designing sophisticated solutions to tackle food packaging waste. Evolving efforts are trying to resolve the waste issue around food packaging and make it easier for consumers to make waste-free choices. New contenders are offering waste-free alternatives to everyday products and name brand favourites, so consumers don’t have to change their daily habits.

Why it’s interesting: By creating apps and platforms which utilise existing food and delivery systems, businesses are helping consumers to easily and conveniently adopt greener practices. Brands have a huge opportunity here to provide innovations, drive consumer momentum and support the move towards sustainable living.

Complex cocktails

More is more at trendy bars slinging drinks with 20-plus ingredients.

Why it’s interesting: With millennials and generation Z drinking less, it takes more for alcohol to grab their attention. Bars and restaurants are stepping up their game in response, leaning into sensational, compelling cocktails that pique drinkers’ interest and offer a unique experience that can’t be recreated at home.

Biodiverse dining

Chefs are cooking up biodiverse menus that cater to climate-conscious diners.

The US has lost 90% of native fruit and vegetable varieties since the 1900s. Today, just 12 plant sources and five animal sources make up 75% of the food we consume, according to the FAO of the UN, despite the fact that there are approximately 300,000 edible plant species globally. And just three crops — wheat, corn and rice — make up almost 60% of plant-based calories in most modern diets.

This reliance on a handful of species poses a serious threat to ecosystems and food security.

Why it’s interesting: As examples such as the recent surge in veganism and the sweeping renouncement of plastic straws illustrate, diners are shifting their eating habits to support environmental efforts. Diversified diets offer another avenue for environmental activism — and a tastier meal.

Co-cooking kitchens

Cooking is getting communal. Dense urbanisation is creating a need for smarter use of spaces, while budding culinary entrepreneurs are looking for more cost-effective options when it comes to getting started in the business. Taking cues from the explosion of co-working offices, co-cooking spaces are opening up around the world to cater to the growing desire for a place in which to not only innovate and network but also cook and socialise.

Why it’s interesting: With space at a premium and costs for kitchen equipment prohibitive for many, co-cooking kitchens are a practical and sociable solution for home chefs and culinary specialists alike.

Sober bars

A wave of restaurants and bars are dedicating themselves to alcohol-free service.

According to the WHO, between 2000 and 2016 the number of drinkers in the world decreased by 5%. Accompanying this shift, consumers opting for teetotal lifestyles — or simply cutting down on booze — are looking beyond simple juices and soft drinks as alcohol alternatives and are in search of new concoctions to satisfy elevated palates. As a result, restaurants and bars are creating teetotal environments, and curating non-alcoholic drinks menus.

Why it’s interesting: As consumers shift towards healthier lifestyles, bars and drinks brands are catering to this shift without making clients feel that they are missing out on social experiences.

Regerative farming revolution

Food brands are tackling climate change through regenerative farming.

Intensive farming has so depleted the world’s soils that the UN has warned we could have just 60 harvests left. In response, some food brands are asking producers to transition to regenerative agriculture.

This term covers a raft of techniques that actively restore soil quality, with the added benefit of sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gases, thus delivering a win-win — food that’s better for the planet and for people too.

Why it’s interesting: In the future, food brands that adopt regenerative agriculture practices can be a powerful force in the fight against climate change, combating greenhouse gases and restoring soil quality.

Hot new ingredients

Mounting climate concerns are inspiring a new look at ingredients that have previously flown under the radar.

Solein powder: A Finnish company called Solar Foods is developing a protein powder from nothing more than air, water and electricity. Solein powder, estimated to hit the market in 2021, is about 65% protein, on par with soy and algae. 

Watermelon seeds: Watermelon seeds, a traditional snack for guests at Chinese New Year and other festivals around Asia, are getting a modern makeover in the global health food market. The world watermelon seed market is expected to grow to $751-million in 2025, according to Grand View Research. The bulk of the market is composed of raw seeds, a nutritious vegan alternative to other fats.

Butterfly pea flower: Chefs and mixologists on multiple continents are experimenting with the vibrant indigo and colour-changing properties of the butterfly pea flower. The flower — long used in Southeast Asian cakes and rice dishes — is now showing up around the globe, its popularity fueled as much by its health benefits as by its distinctive colour.

Why it’s interesting: Sustainability and climate concerns are driving innovation in the food and drink category — and fostering a newfound appreciation for previously overlooked ingredients.

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