Future-proof foods require sustainable food practices whether you are a food producer, packager, or an environmentally conscious consumer. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental costs of food consumption, such as how avocados, cattle, and almonds use up tons of resources. As a result, they are finding plenty of sustainable, futuristic foods on supermarket shelves and on the menus of their favorite restaurants.
Trends in food come and go, but more research is being done on alternatives to unsustainable food sources. That means people are seeing more and more bizarre foods of the future popping up on the food landscape. While cockroach milk won’t be the next superfood, many sustainable, future-proof products are already on the shelves and menus for customers.
- Nearly 65% of consumers want food products that help them live a more socially and sustainably responsible lifestyle as they make future-focused purchases.
- Pandanus – a pineapple-like fruit – and non-traditional beans such as the Yeheb nut are future-proof foods with broad use, making them sustainable.
- Algae is a sustainable food source that consumes less water, is versatile, and is available worldwide. It is making it mainstream in protein bars, probiotics, and shakes mixers.
- Vegan eggs are a plant-based, future-proof food that delivers healthier and more sustainable alternatives to traditional eggs.
- Insects are the protein of the future consumers can get at their local supermarkets today, including protein bars, freeze-dried, and dehydrated versions of the protein.
6 Future-Proof Foods Consumers Love Now
Nearly 65% of consumers want food products that help them live a more socially and sustainably responsible lifestyle as they make future-focused purchases. As a result, food producers continue to notice trends leaning toward foods that conserve precious resources. In the past, the focus was on locally sourced food with lower carbon and greenhouse emissions. Today, the focus has shifted to foods that are good for the environment and can sustain the world’s population without depleting resources.
Pandanus tectorius – a small tree that grows in coastal areas from the Pacific Islands to the Philippines – is highly valued in Southeast Asia for its leaves, which people use to flavor sweet and savory dishes. You can consume the fruit of the tree, which resembles a pineapple, raw or cooked. The tree is climate resilient and can withstand harsh conditions, including strong winds, drought, and salt spray, making it a sustainable and nutritious food source.
2. Non-Traditional Beans
Beans have been a popular food source worldwide for centuries. However, experts believe there are untapped bean sources that could be even more widely used than the traditional options available today.
Hundreds of wild species of beans exist besides world-famous varieties such as kidney beans, pintos, fava beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils. For example, the chestnut-flavored Yeheb nut that grows in Somalia and Ethiopia, or the edible lupine common in the Mediterranean, which people can pickle or ground into flour as a snack.
Grown on most continents, beans are very drought tolerant and enrich the soil with nitrogen to prepare it for other yields.
As we look for crops that consume less water, many food producers are turning to the ocean for their natural food source. And seaweed looks like the latest nutritious snack of the future without the gooiness associated with green beach slurps.
Variations of it have been on upscale restaurant menus for decades and are now going mainstream in the form of protein bars, probiotics, and shake mixers. It’s likely to expand rather quickly from the superfood section of health food stores to local grocery stores.
4. Vegan Eggs
Vegan eggs provide a more sustainable alternative to traditional eggs. They are part of the plant-based food trend that provides the same, if not higher, nutritional value as standard eggs. The main drivers for the vegan egg market increase include the rising prevalence of egg allergies and growing awareness of the need for environmentally sustainable foods.
Experts predict that insects will be the protein of the future. While many cultures globally have been incorporating insects into their diets for millennia, Western culture has only considered using insects in consumer-grade foods in recent years.
The benefits of this future-proof food drive its growth in popularity. For example, locusts require far less water and space than cows or chickens to produce the same amount of protein. You can even find food processed from insects in supermarkets with no visible creepy crawlies. Energy bars made from insects are already on the market, and you can get them freeze-dried, dehydrated, or packed in pouches made specifically for children.
6. Edible Water Bottles
Water bottles are one of the biggest sources of pollution in the world’s landfills and oceans. Today, there are innovative new solutions that are actually phasing them out. It is an edible water bottle. Instead of storing water in plastic bottles, products like Ooho Bottle – a seaweed-based pouch – offers a much easier and more environmentally friendly way to stay hydrated. Edible water bottles like these are definitely part of the future of food packaging.
Discover Future-Proof Foods Consumers Want Today at SIAL
Food suppliers looking to meet consumer demands for more sustainable food products have research and development teams dedicated to creating environmentally responsible food products and packaging. Savvy suppliers and producers are collaborating on ways to create eco-friendly products.
At SIAL America, we bring industry experts together to foster conversations that lead to further growth and sustainability to meet consumer demands. Each year we host a Food Show where food and beverage industry professionals can discuss the latest food trends and discover more about the future of food consumption.
Attend our show in March and learn more about the future of food. Do you have an innovative food idea to share? Become an exhibitor.