In 2018, the popularity of Asian-style food halls is booming in the West. Far from the outdated mall food courts of the 90s, these hubs house independent vendors and communal eating spaces. Tapping into this trend, US digital media giant Vice is opening a food hall in New Jersey next year.
The Munchies will be one of two food halls in the new 3m sq ft American Dream shopping and entertainment complex. It will house space for 18 independent vendors, as well as a stage area for chef demos and video shoots.
This is the latest in a series of non-digital food ventures for the media brand, which have included a meal-kit partnership with US brand Chef'd and its first cookbook, which launched in July. For more on how digital brands are stretching their foodie remit, see BuzzFeed's Bluetooth Cooktop and Brand Stretch: Elastic Food & Drink Development.
Food halls are set to be the next move on from street-food concepts – giving the idea a more structured, luxe angle while retaining its independent edge. Other notable developments include London's Market Hall, located inside a disused tube station building (the first three are set to open in the next year), and the Big Apple's Fête New York, a 12,000 sq ft space dedicated to nine up-and-coming chefs, set to open in spring 2019.
As urban dwellers become ever more space-deprived, kitchen brands and designers are finding creative ways to develop multifunctional and compact space-saving devices. The latest to adopt this thinking is London's Royal College of Art graduate Yu Li, with her portable kitchen.
The designer's seven-in-one Assembly set includes an induction hob, a chopping board, a pot, a pan, a wrap for utensils and cutlery and a dish rack – all of which fits neatly inside a compact box.
According to Li, it's designed for students and young people sharing limited kitchen space, and also offers an alternative to the standard kitchen set-up for nuclear families. "The idea is to trim the original kitchen space down to a few minimal elements so the space can be simpler, neater, and transformed [for] other purposes to increase the space utilisation," she explained.
The nifty, kitchenless kitchen has great potential beyond the student house share. It offers those in co-living spaces a personal option for when they want to cook alone, as well as flexibility for those living in larger abodes, where residents may want to play with space and have a convenient appliance to hand away from the kitchen. For more on this thinking, see New Food Roles & Rituals.
Luxury food and beverage brands at this year's Speciality & Fine Food Fair in London pushed the boat out in terms of flavour, format and health credentials. Carefully considered left-field thinking delivered creative and fully-rounded products – from tea-whisky to CBD-infused honey.
Each year, one third of all food produced globally for human consumption is wasted, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. As consumers wake up to this problem, businesses are finding ever more inventive ways to harness the rising tide of waste created by supermarkets, restaurants and the food supply chain.
Launching in May 2019, new US cruise line Blue World Voyages is changing the vacation game. Targeting a more active clientele, the 350-guest luxury vessel is designed for people who don't necessarily want to spend their vacations lazing around – namely, millennials.
Onboard, guests will find yoga, spinning and TRX studios, golf simulators and batting cages – but it doesn't end there. At each paradise-like destination, cruisers can participate in runs, hikes, bike rides, surfing and diving expeditions, as well as other exciting adventures around the Mediterranean.
It's not the first cruise line to have attempted to reach the active consumer. Cruise Critic – which reports on the best ships for fitness amenities – cites MSC Cruises as having the best gym, while Norwegian Cruise Line features ropes courses, and Seabourn is the place to go for yoga. However, Blue World Voyages doesn't just specialise in one area: it aims to offer the best of all fitness activities, setting it apart from this group.
Today's consumers are driven by the desire for extreme experiences and urban adventures, according to Stylus experts. Blue World Voyages is seizing on this trend by tapping into the active lifestyle market – a savvy way to keep up with changing consumer demands.
For more on catering to active consumers, see our Macro Trend Active Lives. See also Hospitality's Heightened Fitness Focus for more on how the travel industry is targeting the hardcore fitness consumer.
As big brands and retailers pledge against plastic, designers and researchers are persisting with sustainable and plant-based alternatives for single-use items. Brooklyn design studio Crème has turned to gourds (fleshy fruits with hard skin) to create an environmentally friendly solution to disposable coffee cups.
While existing paper versions are typically lined with polyethylene and cannot be recycled or composted, meaning excessive numbers end up in landfill, the HyO-Cups are 100% organic and biodegradable.
The studio looked to gourd containers for inspiration, which can be found all over the world. Traditionally used in many cultures as containers for liquids or medicines, they are often grown in earthen moulds to create different shapes and sizes. Once dried out, the fruit’s strong outer skin and fibrous inner flesh become watertight.
To make a standardised vessel in the same vein, Crème developed custom 3D-printed moulds. The fruit is then grown inside, taking on the shape of a stackable, faceted cup or flask.
The production process currently takes around six months – from planting the fruit to drying out the shells; but the team claims the cups can be manufactured on a mass scale. It hopes that scaling up production and growing the gourds in a controlled, indoor environment will produce a more efficient and plentiful crop.
Laboratory-grown materials and solutions to our depleting sources is an important theme in our S/S 20 Materials Focus story Augmented Space. See Edible Kombucha Packaging and Crab Shells & Cellulose Offer Promising Plastic Alternative for further sustainable alternatives.
Luxury beauty brands are dipping a toe into the food and beverage space, flexing their deep knowledge of ingredients to offer innovative and engaging products and experiences.
This cross-pollination offers exciting opportunities for beauty brands seeking to extend their traditional remit, and also reflects the thinking presented in our Industry Trend report Trans-Industry Ingredients.
Food is being celebrated in increasingly immersive ways, with educational foodie museums popping up across the UK and US. From the history of Bangladeshi-American cuisine to an indulgent 'cheat day' exhibition, consumers are being plunged into playful foodie experiences.
Californian company Apeel Sciences has developed an edible coating that can extend the shelf life of this millennial favourite. The invisible barrier, made entirely from plant materials, delays mushiness – an innovation that could spark a food retail revolution.
The coating is made from naturally occurring lipids extracted from discarded fruit and vegetable waste, which are made into a dip or spray. This sustainable solution is set to reduce the amount of produce thrown away by retailers and consumers due to spoilage.
On average, Americans throw away 400lb of food per person each year (NRDC, 2017). Apeel aims to prevent this wastage by naturally preserving the ripeness of produce. The coating also offers a sustainable replacement for packaging, potentially reducing food retail's reliance on plastics.
Although the company is focusing on avocados due to their notoriously fleeting window of perfect ripeness, Apeel's formula can be modified for strawberries, mangoes, apples, bananas, kumquats and asparagus. The coating can also be used in regions where refrigeration is not widely available – in pilot projects in Nigeria and Kenya, it was applied to cassava root and mangoes.
Apeel Sciences is not the first to tackle the avocado conundrum. Californian avocado distributor Calavo uses ProRipe VIP, which evaluates how ripe the fruits are by measuring their acoustic response. And an Australian company has created an "avocado time machine" that slows down the browning process.
It's no secret that kids don't like eating their vegetables – but organic baby-food maker Sprout Foods is using smart skill technology to provide a solution to mealtime battles.
The new Sophie Sprout voice skill for Amazon Alexa aims to eliminate the hassle of mealtimes by playing catchy, food-themed songs to encourage toddlers to eat their fruit and veg. In addition, the Mealtime Adventure feature guides parents and kids through the 'here comes the airplane'-style spoon-feeding game – as well as other tactics for getting them to eat more.
Audio skills for kids are a rapidly growing category of apps for voice assistants that run on smart speakers. The Amazon Echo currently has many child-targeted voice skills in the US, reaching a new demographic of smart-speaker users. The technology is gaining mainstream popularity – particularly among young millennial mothers.
Sprout Foods is a great example of how cross-industry collaboration can lead to innovative solutions for day-to-day problems. By blending tech with food and beverage, the New Jersey company is successfully tapping into the health-conscious mentality of today's consumer.
At Brooklyn Eats 2018 (June 28), local companies demonstrated mass-market appeal with product launches that echoed themes spotted at New York’s Summer Fancy Food Show (June 30 to July 3). These are our top picks for products that capture the culinary innovation brewing in the borough.
Virtual reality (VR) is plunging consumers into multisensory environments, impacting industries from product development to entertainment. Now, Swiss scent and flavour house Givaudan has added scent to the equation with its new 'Smell-In-A-Box' technology.
Launching at San Francisco conference Food IT in June 2018, Givaudan has created a smell emitter that releases fragrances that align with visuals projected through a VR headset. The version showcased at the event placed wearers in a virtual kitchen, with the scent emitter releasing the smells of different ingredients as they appeared within the space. These included bananas, strawberries, onions and garlic.
This technology, which has scope for cross-industry impact, is exciting for several reasons. In terms of food and drink, it further validates thinking around VR-enhanced dining experiences and product development first put forward in our report Sensory Edibles. It could also be used in the entertainment space – allowing gamers and film viewers to become even more fully immersed in virtual worlds via the addition of olfactory stimulation.
For further examples of how product developers are using scent to enhance the consumer experience, see New Fragrance Worlds and Scented Cup Simulates Flavour. See also Tribeca Immersive 2018: The Art of AR/VR and CES 2018 x Retail: Emotion-Tracking VR Headset to discover more on the rapid and evolving growth of VR products across the industry spectrum.
Legal cannabis poses a clear threat to alcohol brands. Now, several companies are developing THC-powered, alcohol-free beverages that look and taste like beer, wine or spirits – positioning cannabis as a direct replacement.
Brands are vying to leverage the newly legal status of recreational cannabis in nine US states and Canada (Canadian legalisation begins in October, but edibles/drinkables will be barred for the first year). They're promoting alcohol-inspired beverages infused with THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) as hangover-free booze alternatives and an easy format for social cannabis consumption. Because the effects of conventional edibles are normally slow to kick in but can last for hours, some producers are also designing their products to mimic the response curve of alcohol.
As explained in A Budding Opportunity: Commercialising Cannabis, different strains of the plant naturally serve as alcohol alternatives for both thrill-seekers and their opposing counterparts, moderate millennials. In Canada, 41% of current/likely recreational cannabis consumers regard it as an alternative to alcohol, according to a new study from Deloitte Canada, which concludes that "all alcohol categories could be affected". A 2017 survey of Californian millennials by local cannabis producer OutCo found 34% would choose cannabis over beer, while 18% would favour it over wine.
We initially discussed this concept in Fluid Flavours, part of our Future of Flavour Industry Trend, pointing to drinks like the alcohol-free sauvignon blanc produced by Rebel Coast Winery in California. Here are five 2018 launches worth tracking:
Expect more alcohol brands to follow. Americans already believe regular marijuana use is less risky health-wise than regular alcohol consumption (Marist College, 2017). In the recreationally legal era, as cannabis comes to be perceived as a natural wellness product, products like these are likely to supplement or replace their alcoholic counterparts.
Addressing the increasingly voracious consumer demand for ethical and sustainable material production, Aussie start-up Nanollose has developed the world's first rayon fabric made of biowaste from the food industry.
The material, called Nullarbor, is made by adding microbes to coconut biomass. This naturally ferments the otherwise wasted industry byproduct to create microbial cellulose, which can be used to create a rayon-based material.
This process uses very little land, water or energy, as well as none of the pesticides and fertilisers used to create conventional rayon, which is sourced from wood pulp. According to the brand, this process can also be used to convert wasted biomass from the beer and wine industries, demonstrating the broader potential for this process.
Nanollose chief executive Alfie Germano said: "My vision is for Nanollose to be at the forefront of offering fashion and textile groups a viable alternative, and decreasing the industry's reliance on environmentally burdensome, raw materials."
This process further shows how ingredients and waste products traditionally found in the food industry can have myriad cross-industry applications, as discussed in our report Trans-Industry Ingredients. It also speaks to growing consumer expectations for sustainable textiles in fashion and interiors, as recently covered in our report A Sustainable Journey.
Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about their social and environmental impact, and are on the lookout for brands that are active in those areas. To support its sustainability credentials, US ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry’s uses blockchain to enable fans to offset their carbon impact by paying an extra penny at the till.
Ben & Jerry’s has collaborated with Maltese non-profit organisation Poseidon Foundation on an ice-cream parlour spot in London. Using blockchain tech, the brand is able to calculate the environmental impact of producing and purchasing a cone of ice cream, and gives consumers the opportunity to rebalance their footprint and actively support action on climate change by buying carbon credits. Ben & Jerry’s has pledged to buy credits for each cone and invites consumers to do so too – when paying at the checkout, the cashier asks consumers if they’d like to add an extra penny to their balance.
Carbon credits are tradable tokens linked to projects which offset the greenhouse gases created by organisations and are usually only sold in massive quantities to corporations. Poseidon splits them up into micro transactions, making them accessible to consumers. Ben & Jerry’s credits are used to support a forestry conservation project at the Cordillera Azul National Park in Peru. Since opening in May, the ice-cream parlour initiative has been able to protect more than 1,000 trees – equivalent to an area the size of 77 tennis courts.