Food is ubiquitous, our daily bread and our social glue. Food has biological, social and financial value. Food is local and global and inherently tangible.There has never been a better time to be in the food business. Here's why...
Fuel for life
We all need to eat, but with 2 billion people worldwide overweight and 2 billion starving, you could say that there are some efficiency gains to be made across our industry and across our planet. Should we not be trying harder to address this imbalance and make better food more available for all?
Whether at the discretionary or utility end of the business, Fast Casual or Quick Service, more people are spending more of their discretionary income outside the home, or ordering more takeout into the home. There’s a lot more foodservice spend to play for.
No longer is food just something to soak up alcohol. It is something to be enjoyed in its own right, with friends, with conversations, informally. Food increasingly provides the spice and sauce to our social bonds.
We can digitize aspects of food's distribution but not yet its manufacture – 3D printed soufflé, anyone? Either the food has to come to us, or we have to go the food, whether for ingredients to cook at home or for a finished dish to be cooked for us, eat-in or takeaway.
In our digitized lives, we seek increasing comfort from ‘In Real Life’ experiences centred around food. Whether it's a spontaneous catch-up with mates at a street truck, or a homely weekend lunch with old friends, food is usually the real world centrepiece to our face-to-face social rituals.
A lot has been written about how the over-consolidated agrifood industry pushes unhealthy food on unsuspecting consumers, accelerating obesity and further straining an already strained NHS. What to do? Get involved. Help take food back to what it is supposed to be. Good food. Good health.
Too much waste
Food waste is thankfully increasingly taboo. Questions of food supply sustainability are rightly climbing the industry agenda. We need to work harder to profit more from wasting less, making more food available to share around.
We need to make clearer the implications of our food choices – often not considered as choices at all. The right food choices can sound so simple - “Eat food. Mainly plants. Not too much.” (Michael Pollan). So much more can be done to make the food business more aligned with reducing climate change.
Food and the food business can be great fun. As value flows from the product through service to experience, so the various foodservice actors break out of their traditional roles in the kitchen, front-of-house and at head office, and start to interact more directly with each other and with their customers, making meals more memorable in more ways.
At the end of the day, food is fuel. Let’s keep some perspective. Food porn can seem criminal at times. Let’s make food delicious, create fun and memorable meals, reduce the drudgery of cookery and increase the healthiness of our routine eating. But let’s also make food more fair, for all on the planet, for the producers as much as the consumers, by making food chains more transparent and working for their value to be shared equitably and sustainably.