Madeira University, Portugal
Posters & Accepted Abstracts: J Nutr Food Sci
Standing still isn’t an option in this changing world. There needs to be a step change in the way food and beverage companies do business. It might mean re-evaluating the way they operate and making some uncomfortable business decisions to respond to the changing landscape and to ensure they don’t end up on the back foot. However, exciting opportunities are presenting themselves, such as: deploying new business models to respond to consumer needs: consumers are crying out for food and drink solutions that resonate with the way they live their lives. Busy lifestyles spent away from the home mean there is less time to prepare and eat three square meals a day. We are seeing food providers interpreting consumer needs in innovative ways, such as home-delivered meal kits to take the thinking out of cooking for time-poor consumers, or retailers taking online shopping to the next level by offering virtual retail portals where people can order groceries while waiting for their train. Utilizing technology to reach and inform consumers: there are huge developments in how products can be supplied directly to individuals, with growing interest in vending, 3D printing and now 4D printing (objects that reshape themselves over time). Technology also presents opportunities enabling consumers to make sense of nutritional information. Instead of reading the back of the product pack and having to assess the nutritional information of a product, a consumer might be able to scan a QR code with their phone. Activity trackers or sports bands, which tell us about activity is done and calories burned, could also incorporate information about products eaten. Personalizing products to meet dietary requirements: the future for nutrition is taking us ever closer to understanding and responding to dietary needs at the individual level. There has recently been a lot of research into microbes in the gut and how they impact people’s ability to digest foods and how likely they are to develop certain intestinal diseases. Sensory research is exploring differences in taste perception, raising questions such as how does an individual’s perception of taste impact their food choice, consumption habits and ultimately their health and wellbeing. As we understand more about how an individual’s genetic and microbial make-up impacts their diet, manufacturers will be able to respond with more personalized products to suit individuals’ needs.
Seeking inspiration from outside the industry: It is striking to note how other industries are facing similar dynamics to those in the food and beverage industry, and what this means for the cross-fertilization of ideas. In the medical industry, we are seeing the intersection between the medical and consumer sectors. For example, the technological feedback options of medical implants which can measure and communicate vital health information offer the promise of personalized health for consumers. This mirrors the personalization trend in the food and beverage industry. The ability to provide products tailored to the individual and to measure the consumer’s response to them has key applications in the food and beverage industry.
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