Top Trends 2022: Engineered Indulgence 

December, 2022

The holidays are an indulgent time for many, but increasingly, our favorite foods are getting the Silicon Valley treatment. In a world where tech is making everyday products smarter, we’re seeing smart solutions begin to transform everyday foods on a large scale, too. Biotech brands are using science to create better-for-you foods without forgoing flavor or pleasure. In the process, they’re also addressing pressing issues like climate change, sustainability, food waste, and global health crises like diabetes. It’s a trend we call Engineered Indulgence, included in Volume 2 of our Top Trends 2022.

The idea of maintaining a diet that is good for you, good for the planet, and high in flavor might sound impossible – but it doesn’t have to be. Starbucks has been rolling out its partnership with NotCo, a company that uses artificial intelligence to create plant-based milk alternatives, throughout its stores in Colombia as well as in Mexico. And startup SciFi Foods, launched in 2019, is making headway to become the first brand to bring lab-grown meat to the US market through its use of gene editing. 

85% of US adults believe that the foods they eat have a greater impact on overall health than medicine. And with a rise in food costs from inflation and ever-present climate concerns, expertly engineered products could promise more stability – something people are craving. It’s a category ripe for disruption, and a hungry market is ready for the results. 

Sustainable alternatives go beyond meat  

The Supplant Company uses upcycled plant fibers to create a low-glycemic sugar substitute for a sweetener that’s more nutritious and better for the environment. The smart alternative is already being used in celebrity chef Thomas Keller’s kitchens. And Upside Foods, a company that makes real meat products from animal cells, expanded its cell-based products to include seafood following the acquisition of Cultured Decadence, which similarly uses animal cells and smart tech to develop sustainable, delicious seafood. 

Unapologetically embracing technological change offers storytelling opportunities 

  • A CPG brand can take small steps to help people adjust to the idea of technology-driven products in everyday meals. For example, partner with a tech company to create AI recipes with your products and sample them at grocery stores. The brand can use video on social channels to showcase how they’re currently leveraging technology in the supply chain and manufacturing processes for a behind-the-scenes look. 
  • A QSR brand can showcase robots at work in the kitchen and how they help workers focus on customer service over the now-automated food service. ​

*Source: Horizon Media, Finger on the Pulse. Survey fielded 5/31/22-6/9/22, n=986)

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