Discussion: How will emerging consumer trends influence food consumption behaviour?

Foodies, this is for you :ramen: :spaghetti: :shallow_pan_of_food: :drooling_face:!

The global population has increased substantially since the time of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. As human settlements increased in number and population density, the demand for food and food safety increased proportionally. While most people take safe food supply chains for granted, this only became a reality in the recent history of homo sapiens.

Today, all it takes to satisfy our culinary desires is plain and simple. Walk down the street, fill your basket with goods and swipe your phone at the checkout. (Still, while some consider it common, people in countries hit by humanitarian crises or deep economic upheaval find it inconcievable.)

Is the design of our food supply chains sustainable?

  • If everything works well for most developed/developing countries, why should we consider products such as plant-based meat :hamburger: & dairy products :milk_glass: or lab-grown meat :cut_of_meat:?
  • Why are there companies that seek to introduce insect-based food :cricket: in our supply chains?
  • Is there a fundamental reason behind the above-mentioned trends or are they just a passing fad?

What drives food consumption behaviour?

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Great Topic here again @RazvanPaun and one which is quite close to my heart too!

Most of the issues and trends that you highlighted are basically environmental issues. The reason for the recent interest in proteins deriving from insects is simply the belief that we cannot sustain ourselves in the way that we currently are. Mass farming has created enormous stress on the environment for a whole host of reasons which I assume people are pretty aware about at this point - Methane and C02 productions, deforestation, water wastage, unsustainable needs in terms of producing cattle feeds etc (there’s a really good documentary called Cowspiracy, it’s a little vegan biased, to be honest, but there’s still some pretty eye-opening stuff there.

There has been a societal shift towards diets that include less meat for this and for many other reasons - Vegetarianism, Veganism, Flexitarianism, Seaganism (yes, that’s a thing now) and I really doubt that’s going to change any time soon. I really hope that people are starting to sit up and take notice of the horrendous and probably irreversible damage we are willfully doing to our planet and that part of the solution for this is to make some tough choices with our diets and that part of that solution will likely be eating less, no or alternatively sourced meat and protein products. Of course, I am aware that at this point in human history almost everything we farm or consume damages the planet in some way and Im not suggesting its the end game solution. It is a start though. We’ve got t start trying to look after our home a better, we all share it at the end of the day!

From an investment perspective, there are some great investments to be had in this area I think :grinning:

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Hi Razvan!

My thinking is that all these questions could be answered with: Because of their lower WATER and ENERGY consuption in the production’s processes.

As you state, the world population is growing and it will continue in growing exponentially. There is still a lot of free space in Africa, on Mars as the good Elon would like to go…but even these solutions does not solve the shortage in water and energy if all people on the Earth keep on with this same food behaviour.

Personally I plan to switch to breatharian ASAP to avoid eating insect bwse food…I prefer…:joy:

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One of the most exciting trends for me, and i am hoping that there is no material damage caused by Covid-19, is that of urban farms. Re-purposing unused spaces such as old tube stations, underground bunkers, roof tops and combining these with techniques such as hydroponics to grow a local food supply. Helps reduce transport costs (plus all the environmental benefits), and ensure more timely delivery of fresh produce. Finding a profitable business model and scaling this excites me.

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I think the answer to these questions is because we are more and more inhabitants on earth, and the resources with which we feed today are reaching their maximum production limit. That is why it is necessary to look for other alternatives, in the same way that we are already thinking that it will be necessary for part of the population to go to Mars, because Earth will not have the capacity to house us all. I doubt we are to see it, but there we go.

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Hi Pynksters, I’ve noticed that a lot of people have cited growth in future population in this thread but, as I believe we covered in another topic somewhere, a recent study by the Bill and Melinda gates Foundation discovered exactly the inverse may be the problem. :astonished:

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Seems like Carbon footprint of Meat and Dairy products is a valid reason to consider a bit faster researching for better options :flushed:

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Interesting topic @RazvanPaun. I believe most of these are in relation to Developed countries. I have an agribusiness startup which is in the supply chain. We have farmers who grow the foods and we buy and supply to our clients. Lab grown meat is new to me. People who don’t like meat and don’t get some to purchase turn to Mushrooms.

I think it’s the quest to find answers as to how nature works. I don’t see the rationale behind engineering ex. Maize in the lab when it can be grown.

The reasons are best known to them but one thing is certain. You can’t cheat nature. My business doesn’t endorse such products. That’s who I encourage everyone to have a backyard garden. Cheers

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In many developed countries supply chains have well-defined “process” with strong infraestructure and defined timings. From the fields and pens to the consumer’s table is a well planified process all the way. Even the way many people plan to get their food becomes standard for the way of life in many of those countries, like make regular purchases on weekends to stock up the entire week. :sunglasses:

However in developing countries supply chains are often broken and consumer habits vary greatly according to the purchasing power they have: many people live from day to day and buy what they need on a daily basis because that´s the way they can achieve it regarding their income. In developing countries many people prefer to go directly to the farmer or rancher and buy directly from those people avoiding intermediaries who normally “inflate” prices due to the lack of state regulation on them. :worried:

So as you can see consumer habits, supply chains and food consumption behaviour varies greatly from country to country. My take is that consumer trends in regional powers(like China or Japan for Asia and USA in America) define the food consumption behaviour for many surrounding countries as well as directly affect international supply chains they depend. :+1:

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I guess different countries have different food trends. I personally, do NOT want to eat insects. Plant based ‘meat’ doesn’t seem to be taking off here as well as in some other countries. But I’m all for healthier eating. I do see many healthy options come at a steeper price so that will be a deterrent for many people.

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Yes @KarenM, agree with you different countries have different food trends and i do not want to eat insects either.

Regarding “healthier eating”, well, this is one thing i guess all people want to achieve but not all people are able to get: it depends on several things… starting with people´s the purchase power and available time to prepare healthier foods to psychological status even. In developed countries where people have better living standards i guess it is a choice where you can select among eating healthier or “eating dirty”; we can say it is on you. People from medium to high living standards which are the majority of the population can choose.

In developing countries healthier eating is not a choice per se. Due to low living standards of the majority of the population people tend to choose cheap food which, often, it is not the healthier food you can find… :+1:

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Just found this…

So far, only 6,000 tonnes of insect protein is produced annually in the EU, which means that several hundred people are employed. By 2030, however, IPIFF estimates that this could be between two and five million tonnes.

…maybe it is time to start investing in insect-based food industry :slight_smile:

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I believe eating healthy is not about having the choice it is about education. Almost everybody that has access to a mcdonalds or piece of chicken has access to rice lentils and vegetables,etc. Those do not cost more than a piece of chicken.
Now it is the government’s job also to stop subsiding the meat and diary industries and start promoting healthy diets.
The reason I am mentioning the subsidies is because meat and diary are the only products that have not been affected at all by inflation, totally the opposite, they have become cheaper and cheaper, promoting lower quality and poorer practises…haha i could go for hours :slight_smile:

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In terms of economics makes sense to take a step backward and start eating a little bit more about our grandparents, more organic less saturated and more locally sourced.
The current mass production of the cattle industry is pushing us towards more pollution, more overweight and hence more costs in terms on health. And while some get rich the rest of us see tax increases to cope with those extra costs.
I believe people are starting to realised about the benefits of wholefood diets, mainly plant base and the switch. At the moment 8% of the population in the world is vegetarian and it has been predicted that by 2040 only 40% population will eat meat with 35% consuming lab meat and 25% vegan meat replacements. Looks like insects are appealing much to the market yet.

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I agree with some of your points @ch1ch0,but not all.

Very true, but the choice comes because they go to McDonald’s, rather than cooking the rice,lentils & vegetables.

This I don’t agree with. Many very educated people with knowledge about good nutrition still ‘choose’ to eat unhealthy foods.

Agree with that! Rice and beans are very inexpensive to buy and prepare.

Here in the US, our meat and dairy prices continue to rise, rise rise.

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Only want to add that even educated people need to be educated about new topics from time to time. :slight_smile:

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I agree :100:% @ch1ch0! There is always something new to learn.

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I think we have a massive problem in the UK and the US. It’s ‘perception of value’. We always want to buy as cheap as possible and unfortunately that has led to us consuming, mistreated, artificially fattened, chemically treated, factory farmed junk. In the UK and US we spend less than 10% of our average earnings on food (last time i checked it was around 7 or 8%), compare that to somewhere like Greece and we see average spending at 16% or more and most people would still tell you that food is ’ expensive’.

As the demand for cheap food grows and the farmers costs grow, this leads to more and more processed foods ( see any video about what goes into cheap hot dogs if you don’t believe me)

I can tell you, as someone who worked for many years sourcing foods - including meats, dairy, vegetables etc that the price of meat has gone up but not even close to as much as it should have done to keep up with inflation. This is compounded by our habits of shopping primarily in supermarkets, giving these corporate entities too much power over the food chain and keeping prices low at any cost. Growing good quality meats and dairy cattle has become niche market stuff now because there is no money in it, except for a lucky few, Its all about the factory farming these days unfortunately.

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@RazvanPaun I would say that the main driver behind these trends: insect-based food, plant-based meats, etc are people in some countries, mainly the richer ones, becoming more conscious about the impact mass farming has on the environment, and not only that, but also more conscious about the unbelievable conditions in these factories and the cruelty inflicted on so many animals.

I don’t think population growth is really an issue, the US produces about 18% - 20% of the beef output annually, but have 4% of the population of the world. It’s like with fossil fuels, a few big countries do the heavy consumption and the consequences are shared worldwide. Additionally, people in developing countries are already including insects in their diet out of tradition or necessity. In Mexico we have chapulines :cricket: in case you ever visit and want to venture into the delicious :drooling_face:

That is not to say that we should dismiss the trends, at least in the developed countries these are markets that will keep expanding

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Just curious @mosigman…how many chapulines do you have to eat to equal a hamburger?

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