The 2020 Food Consumer in Eight Trends

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Food plate with delicious meal and healthy vitamin symbolsOh sure, lots of people and groups toss about “food trend” statements. But one group has tapped into scientific method to get a longer-term look at what people will want from their food a decade from now. Are they right? Who knows. Like any trends predictor, only time will tell. But what’s interesting about this particular set of descriptions is how much it echoes what others are stating, but of course, with a stuffier, more academic tone.  The report says:

Health will be a determining factor in the future of food. People are increasingly concerned about maintaining their health and that is why they are demanding wholesome products adapted to their own personal needs.

Compare that to this line from a story on the same theme by Gary Hirshberg in the populist site The Huffington Post.

Americans care about the food we eat and feed our families, now more than ever. In the span of just a few weeks, “pink slime” became a consumer phenomenon, leading to the unprecedented rapid-fire removal of the product from major stores and schools, the closure of production plants and USDA approval of voluntary labeling. Talk about legislation through retail.

The group identified eight key trends, and assigned each an identifying moniker. The top one was “Food Telling” or “Food with a Message,” described as “a demand for transparent, attractive, accessible information.” I see that as being triggered by the likes of “pink slime.” I overheard people talking about it on plane to New York last week and the woman discussing it were not food people – they were both mothers of young kids and they were angry. Furious. Explosively so, and willing to vote out pink slime with their wallets.

Some of the other trends seemed extensions of existing ones, such as “Eater_tainment,” or food that’s doubles as entertainment or “EgoFood,” namely food that extends the personality of the individual. You can read the full story at Science Codex. Curious to see what others think of it.

About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School" and "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good." All are published by Viking/Penguin.


  1. Food manufactures will always follow trends, no matter the source of that trend. You look at any food store today and you will realize that those “New” crackers you saw last month are now gone and it’s spot replaced with another product. The average life span on “new” products is approx. six months. That’s the critical time frame that marketers deem as the “make it or break it” months.

    • Kathleen Flinn says:

      Definitely. What I think we forget as consumers is how much power we actually have when it comes to what gets offered for sale. Look at pink slime – once that hit the masses, those fast food burger places had to scramble for an answer. Same thing with high fructose corn syrup. The more insidious part of the food chain, though, isn’t really that consumer facing so it’s curious to see what will happen.

  2. embrita says:

    I feel like they’ve overthought that – and that most people will overlap categories. My own personal opinion is that we’ll see a much wider-spread resurgence of kitchen gardens and community gardens – and there will be more seed-saving, canning, etc to preserve variety, nutrition, and flavor. But I could be completely wrong. 😉

    • Kathleen Flinn says:

      I agree with that, especially on kitchen gardens. I’m intrigued by how many people I know now keep chickens in their backyards, and grow their own lettuce. We’re converting part of our yard to a garden and I saw two neighbors pulling up grass to plant a garden this past weekend. Definitely a trend.

      • embrita says:

        Oooh! I’m very interested to know what you’re planting. I think we’re going to give berry bushes a shot this weekend. Fresh food just tastes better.

  3. You just must read constantly. I’m always intrigued by the stuff you find. Very interesting post, and thoughtful take on this whole subject.

  4. I do have to say that I spend a lot more time contemplating food in the past two years. Books like yours, with those by Michael Pollan and films like Food Inc. are getting the word out that we have to be vigilent. (It doesn’t hurt that every other month, there’s ANOTHER food recall… !) I am to the point now where I have started to budget extra money to buy better food, and we’ve just committed to eating less meat (better for the planet, and for us). Interesting post. Thanks.

    • Kathleen Flinn says:

      That’s great to hear. You’re exactly the kind of consumer that I think the “transparency” factor is aimed at, actually.

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