3 min read

The world of the food and beverage industry is worth multi-billions worldwide. Be it grocery retailing, the leisure industry or growers and producers, changes and innovations are occurring at dizzying speed. Outlet formats, meal kits, prepared foods and fresh, individualised diet items are top of the agenda for many retailers. Capitalising on technology and innovation will change the industry substantially over the coming years.

Let’s take a look at what will be happening in the near future by focusing on the most significant stakeholders in the food and drink industry.

Growers and manufacturers

A revolution is taking place in cellular agriculture space, which refers to the cultivating of cells instead of animals. Examples include cultured or clean meat substitutes and the creation of egg protein rather than farming egg-laying poultry. We are also approaching the point where widely available 3-D printed food will become reality. The full ramifications of these developments are not yet clear. However, these and other innovations would certainly address the pressing issues of supply and demand.


Widespread research suggests that modern food and drink consumers are looking for 5 key attributes from their food and drink suppliers.

  • Sustainability (environmentally friendly supply)
  • Convenience (easy access to and preparation of the product)
  • Nutritional quality (addressing and responding to dietary concerns)
  • Clarity (of sourcing, labelling and nutritional value)
  • Personalised choices (the ability to customise and adapt food and drink to individual needs and demands)

Overall, the market will fragment even further and there will be greater demand for more ‘niche’ food and drink products.

Food and drink retailers

‘Almost done’ and personalised recipe kits are gaining in popularity. The quest for convenience also includes value-added products.

Established brands and traditional business models are increasingly being challenged to defend their market share. There will be more and more fragmentation of the food and drink market, where the mass-market ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will no longer be sufficient to satisfy a demanding and savvy consumer.

As customers are ever more aware of the quality and healthiness of ingredients, restaurants and retailers will need to be totally transparent about what goes into their food and drink products.

Data and Analytics
This can provide invaluable insights into behaviours. Restaurants can look granularly at various dining occasions and related purchase patterns. For example, “quick bite” meals might have lower price points than “social gatherings.” Frequency patterns will be unique—for instance, a “family meal” will happen much more frequently than a “special occasion” meal.

Restaurants and takeaway

There is likely to be further development in the use of apps and data collection and usage to personalise orders, remember favourites and even push alerts for ‘just-in-time’ promotions at food and drink outlets.

The ‘meal kit’ (or ‘half/almost done) services market is another area likely to grow exponentially in sales in the next few years, spreading worldwide and becoming more widespread as an alternative to the simple takeaway.

The role of technology

Insights are increasingly captured from specific demographics such as localized customers, local economies, high-density populations and consumption patterns for media and entertainment. There will certainly be a greatly more granular approach to using this data to respond to customer needs and experience.

Virtual Reality (VR)
VR will support more efficient product and store planogram design, establish virtual grocery locations, create digitally immersive in-store experiences for shoppers, and therefore provide more relevant, at-the-fingertips information for shoppers.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is expected to facilitate even greater automation in routine and predictable tasks within the food and drink industry; facilitating food purchasing in line with dietary constraints, household tastes and preferred purchase options.

Social media support and analysis is a significant opportunity for collaboration across food manufacturers and their customers, especially smaller brands and independents who may not have the budget to upscale their operations. In fact, digital channels, in general, are set to assume more and more importance as data-mapping and mining becomes increasingly fundamental to the industry’s success in responding to the ever more tailored needs of the discerning consumer.