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  • Author: Fabio Ziemssen

Edible Science: Thoughts on Future of Food

Utopia or vision?

Lizenz AdobeStock 4293

The change in the food sector through new technologies, innovations and concepts is mainly driven by global megatrends such as digitalization, urbanization, sustainability (climate change), overpopulation, individualization, health and "demographic change". In the future, it will be no longer possible to speak of vertical supply-chains, since mechanisms of the circular economy, for e.g. the use of biomass streams, are transforming the food system into an "ecosystem". In addition, all market players will be connected and interrelated.

What’s for dinner? Today, tomorrow and the next decades.

This transformation, driven by digitalization and technology, will form the "Internet of Food", which puts the consumer at the center of the food supply chain of the future. Data and logistics infrastructure are focused on the customer, so that he becomes the "point-of-sale".

In this context, convenience will be one of the guiding pillars of future nutritional culture, which is characterized not only by the optimal supply infrastructure, but also by modified eating habits. The eating habits will in future not depend on fixed eating times, but according to leisure time and dispensable time.

Functionality and health will be at the forefront and will determine both breakfast and lunch. The convenience trend will also accelerate the "path development of the kitchen" due to limited space in urban cities and the resulting increase in rents. Conveniently ultra-fresh, artificial intelligence and fully-automated networked appliances will take over the part of the food preparation so that the customer of the future no longer needs to cook or buy.

In terms of the functional orientation of food, 3D printers will print appropriate meals based on individual nutritional analysis. Sensors in the fitness and recreation area can also define parameters which ensure a healthy diet and are taken into account when an automatic meal is planned.

By means of smart-farming systems, nutrient-rich leaf plants can be planted at home. The content, consistency and taste can be determined by light and cultivation algorithms. Food waste, if present, is naturally recycled, for example in the form of fertilizers or as raw materials for the food 3D printer.

Nutrition is identity-building

What the customer of the future lacks in the social interaction and orientation through automated supply processes, he/she will make-up in the free time by a differentiation of different nutritional approaches and habits according to its value system.

Nutrition is understood here as identity-building and as a cultural element through which hospitality and an understanding of common values can be conveyed in a social context. The emotional value is clearly in the foreground and helps to satisfy the consumer’s longing for food with face and character.

Taco fan, or not. Your Dinner Plate Will Change

Supply bottlenecks in food production with increasing population growth provide for a flood of alternative products: InVitro meat, EntoFood (proteins from insect breeding) or NearMeat (meat substitute products). Authenticity and originality are the leitmotif of this development, which is found in the first place outside the home.

Places of community enjoyment, where motivations such as sense of belonging and common understanding of values dominate, will be the opposite of a purely functional dietary culture. Gastronomy and food retailing will no longer appear separately, and upstream production stages will be incorporated into the concepts in the sense of a vertical integration. More and more, one will encounter autonomous systems, in which regional suppliers and restaurateurs form a closed cycle.

The future will be characterized above all by an interplay of innovation and tradition, in which functional elements grow in parallel with sociocultural understanding of nutrition. Thus, it is no longer the lack of orientation in an overflow society, but rather the resource-conserving modification to health and belonging to the food.

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Fabio Ziemssen

Information about the author

Fabio Ziemssen  is as "Head of Food Innovation and FoodTech" at METRO AG responsible for concepts in the digital environment of food and food innovation. As a blogger for the e-Food Blogs he organized meetings throughout Germany for the Food Startups scene (German Food Startup Meetups, Next Generation Food Think Tank). He also developed the local startup scene in Düsseldorf as a board member of the StartupDorf e.V. initiative. Since 2017 Fabio Ziemssen is also Co-Founder of the Coworking Space Super7000. fabio.ziemssen@metro.de