Future Food Experiences
Future Food Experiences: Designing Good Food for the 21st Century
The experience of food is an ever-changing sensorium of taste, smell, texture, and community. It’s the experience of the farmer and soil scientist working together to cultivate a crop. It’s the overworked volunteer team preparing 5,000 meals a day in a camp for climate refugees. It’s the chef working with the biohacker to invent new proteins and the food retailer working with the VR game designer to reimagine how to shop for groceries.
Over the next decade, the landscape of food experiences will be transformed. Future forces will intersect with inspired design to reshape the entire cycle of food activity, from production, distribution, and manufacturing to shopping and eating. At this intersection, a great opportunity is ready for the harvest: the opportunity to combine futures thinking—which explores a range of possibilities, motivations, and aspirations for the future—with design tools to reinvent all our encounters with food and transform the food system.
From this backdrop of the future world we’ll inhabit, we can imagine a new forward-looking approach to designing future food experiences and food systems. This map and companion toolkit will point the way.
Three core zones of innovation for food experiences
All of our food experiences have three things in common: a human engaging with food in a particular context. Each is a zone of innovation, driving unexpected futures that will emerge as provocations for food design over the coming decade. This forecast map gives 12 forecast provocations for designing future food experiences across human, food, and context that are the building blocks for imagining future food experiences. Combining provocations will help you uncover experiences that are only just becoming possible.
Zone of Innovation: Human
Humans are complex beings. We’re constantly evolving and adapting as we move through life’s stages and respond to rapid changes around us. In the next decade, we’ll expand the known boundaries of what it means to be human, intervening in our own genetic activity andaugmenting our bodies to amplify our perception of the world and connections within it. We’ll adopt new approaches to food expression and rewrite our identities—one food experience at a time. Forecast provocations include:
- Programmable Physiology: Toward personalized approaches to nutrition and health
- Augmented Sensorium: Toward a neuroscience of evolving sensory perception
- Wearable Data: Toward the body as a landscape for food information and expression
- Food Identities: Toward food experiences that expand human connections
Zone of Innovation: Food
From animal-free meat options and AI-enhanced food to efforts to preserve indigenous cuisines, our food and food systems are in a period of rapid reinvention. We can expect to see a proliferation of approaches to encode resilience across the entire food system—integrating food informatics from farm to fork, adopting ecological mindsets to food production and recipes, shifting resources and skills, and rethinking the role of traditional institutions in community and global food systems change. Forecast provocations:
- Cognified Food: Toward artificial intelligence for every food designer
- Engineered Ecosystems: Toward closed-loop food production systems
- Scalable Food Justice: Toward anchor institutions as hubs of food system reform
- Regenerative Recipes: Toward meals that cultivate resilient food systems
Zone of Innovation: Context
Context shapes all our food experiences. Even our physiology responds to context: alone or shared, in a loud restaurant or quiet field. Looking across radical shifts emerging around the world, from instability and volatility to automation and unconventional daily rhythms, it’s clear that 21st century food experiences will happen in very different contexts from today. We’ll create new eating and drinking occasions, new pathways and biozones for sourcing our food, and new strategies for ensuring safe, sovereign food in turbulent times. Forecast provocations:
- Food Instability: Toward innovation and improvisation for global food security
- Branded Biozones: Toward new models to elevate food provenance
- Automated Restaurants & Retail: Toward self-managing food services
- Remixed Rhythms: Toward food personalized to changing daily schedules
Download the map to see the forecasts and signals in more detail.
The accompanying toolkit explores design tools and choices that are only just becoming possible. It uses a version of alternative scenarios to help you see how the design choices you make today shape the kinds of futures we’ll see. This foresight will help organizations uncover unexpected possibilities for designing good food in the 21st century.
Download the toolkit here >>
Future Food Experience Design Workshops
Ready to bring your products, services, and experiences into the 21st century? We've developed a process that blends foresight with design to visualize future food experiences, refined across engagements with multinational food companies and emerging food system leaders in the United States, China, and Australia. This workshop will focus on divergent thinking and generating as many ideas as possible for the future of food. You'll gain a better understanding of innovations across technology, science, and society that will impact the global food system, with a focus on identifying those most relevant to your organization. We'll leverage IFTF's process to systematically understand a broad range of future possibilities and distill those down to scenarios—plausible, internally consistent stories—to help food systems leaders imagine how they could transform their offerings, organizations, and the world over the next ten years.
Contact us at email@example.com for information about hosting your own workshop.
The Food Futures Lab at Institute for the Future cultivates a community of changemakers who use food as a medium for transformation. We draw connections across their stories to forecast unexpected possibilities for the global food system, and we provide them with tools for thinking about the kinds of futures they’re building. Using methodologies developed over nearly 50 years, we challenge assumptions and reveal new opportunities to make a resilient, equitable, and delicious future of food.
For more information about the IFTF Food Futures Lab and Institute for the Future, please contact:
Sean Ness | 650-233-9517 | firstname.lastname@example.org