• New alternatives to animal protein, authenticity, mental health, personalised nutrition, hybrid experiences and hyperconvenience are some of the trends that will most impact the food sector this year, identified by the technology centre in its EATrends 2022 report.
  • The document describes the trends that are shaping people’s lifestyles, attitudes and food consumption behaviour, in a context marked by the pandemic, and which are leading the way for food innovation.

Derio, 23 february 2022.- Sustainability, trust, proximity, social responsibility, wellbeing, experimentation and smart solutions. These seven macro-trends are driving the present and future of food consumption, according to the report EATrends 2022 – Food innovation connected with consumers, developed by the intelligence and innovation team of the AZTI technology centre.

These are the 7 axes that will guide the lifestyle, attitudes and behavior of consumers in a context marked by the need for continuous reinvention due to the pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic on our lives, over such an extended period of time, has had a decisive influence on attitudes and mentalities, transforming people’s priorities and habits. We are facing an increasingly thoughtful and committed consumer, who has been approached by insecurity, defenselessness, frustration, apathy and discouragement, and who is learning to live with the physical and psychological ravages of COVID-19 secures the document.

The environment in the spotlight

Specifically, the Azti experts highlight the relevance of sustainability as the first major macro-trend to mark the consumer’s shopping list. Under the name of SUSTAINFOOD, the experts reflect on the state of eco-anxiety generated by the current concern about the climate emergency and point out that the feeling of guilt is the main driver of behavior change.

Likewise, they point out that there is a greater awareness among society about the impact of the entire food production chain on the environment and that the real ethical and environmental behavior of companies and consumers is in the spotlight. Hence, they point out, the importance of unified environmental labeling systems such as the recently presented Enviroscore.

In this context, the experts distinguish between two micro-trends linked to sustainability. Firstly, the commitment to reducing food waste and the circular economy. Second, the search for alternatives to products of animal origin, which incorporate attributes of sustainability, ethics and health.

New sources of ingredients and proteins such as mushrooms or microalgae shed light on a promising future to solve the technological and nutritional challenges of more traditional vegetable proteins. And products from cell cultures are getting a little closer to being a reality on the market every day, says the report.

Reliable and local products

The second macrotrend is related to consumer confidence. TRUST4FOOD is the name with which the Azti team assures that COVID-19 has done nothing more than widen the gap of trust and credibility even more in the face of the sensation of misinformation.

For the researchers, in an increasingly digitized world and in the face of an avalanche of unverified information, consumers seek to strengthen trust with facts and evidence that dispel misgivings associated with food production and processing.

In this scenario, the experts assure that the consumer is more demanding and thoughtful, they need to have some control in the face of an often opaque food chain. In addition, the report ensures that consumers seek to validate commercial messages with metrics so that promises are based on facts and evidence.

Thirdly, from Azti they identify proximity and proximity as an extra value when making purchase decisions. LOCALFOOD is therefore the third macro trend described in the report.

The local continues to attract the consumer, the origin has multiple emotional and positive connotations. But it has been the pandemic that has caused a change and a boost to the trend, since it made many rethink the origin of the products they consume, says the document.

Cover of the EATrends 2022 report developed by AZTI’s intelligence and innovation team.

More social awareness and concern for well-being

The fourth macrotrend identified by Azti is SOCIALFOOD and it focuses on the social responsibility of the consumer. People are increasingly wondering about the implications of their consumption habits, which makes them more selective and thoughtful in their purchase based on defined values.

The sphere of consumption directs the change of the food system: buying or not a product is a way of voting for a series of intangibles. The younger generations feel that they can change things through their decisions. Responsible and ethical consumption has become part of the lifestyle, image and personal fulfillment of many people, the report points out.

In fifth place, the Azti experts highlight BETTER4ME, the macrotrend that places health care and physical and mental well-being as one of the most powerful engines that influence daily behavior, with a more proactive and preventive approach, linked to desire to live longer and better.

The pandemic has made mental health emerge as one of the elements that has deteriorated the most in the last two years. Stress, exhaustion and loneliness are problems with which an important part of the citizenry struggles.

Along the same lines, customization is going to be increasingly present in all areas of our lives, including food. Precision nutrition pursues that, the adaptation of food to the specific needs of the person, based on scientific evidence and supported by technology.

Hedonism, fun and smart technologies

In the same way that social awareness, environmental concern and self-care are increasing, consumers are also making room for small food-related whims and seeking to escape the routine to turn everyday tasks such as meal preparation into a fun experience. This macrotrend has been called EATERTAINMENT.

We are curious by nature; we like novelty and delight through the 5 senses. And now, more than ever, we want to have fun, live memorable experiences and stop to enjoy the little things that bring us well-being, explains the report.

In addition, in a scenario where the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds are blurring, hybrid ways of living are emerging, where interactivity, agility and the most immersive experiences are sought. The food of the future will be increased, being able to enjoy it in multisensory virtual universes. Immersive retail, virtual showrooms and shoppable experiences (both physical and virtual) are new ways to create unique brand experiences for customers.

Finally, the latest trend identified is SMARTFOOD and it is related to the incorporation of innovative and intelligent solutions to improve and personalize the shopping and consumption experience.

Consumers yearn to have a sense of control over their lives, showing an increasingly self-sufficient and creative attitude to create or access the products and services they want. Occasions of consumption are made more flexible. Improved shopping experiences and practical solutions that simplify life and help make the best decisions anytime, anywhere are sought, the report indicates. In short, at this time what prevails is the hyper-convenience of the service, where the winners will be those bold value propositions that respond to the maximum to the individual needs of consumers.

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