This contribution is based on the Koch.Campus lecture by Hanni Rützler from 18.8.2020 in Steirereck, Vienna
(Hanni Rützler is a futurologist and founder of the futurefoodstudio.
Author of the annual "Food Report")
It is now clear that Corona brought lasting change to all of us. In the beginning we were in a kind of anxiety stiffness and were even forced to ask ourselves fundamental questions. The pandemic quickly changed from "regional" to "global", and all at the same time. We had to face partly dramatic changes. Our lives were reduced - especially in the Corona Lockdown. We had to ask ourselves concretely "What is important?" or even "What can we not do without? Our everyday life and also our working world changed rapidly and Corona paved the way for an unimaginably fast digitalisation.
Of course, our eating habits have also changed. From an incipient "snackification" - such as where I eat lunch today, which meal is now actually my main meal - fixed meal structures suddenly gave us a fixed point in everyday life again. Cooking videos flooded the market and the Google numbers for requests for the preparation of the simplest of dishes skyrocketed. Food got a new kind of appreciation.
"The analysis of food trends has long helped us to describe and understand the changes in eating culture."
There has also been an individualization in eating culture, i.e. eating as an expression of a lifestyle. Food trends can be an answer to acute problems, to desires and longings, but also an expression of current political events and thus serve as an orientation guide for one's own eating style.
In fact not every trend becomes mainstream, but every trend has a counter-trend. By the way, this is also the signal how strong a trend is. Both trends then merge with each other in a kind of loop, as for example from the "vegan movement" and the "meat lovers" the flexitarians emerged. A saturated market demands consistency and therefore it is time to drive its concept even tighter! As an example Hanni Rützler mentions the older menus (80s), which were book pages long and therefore offered something to almost everybody. This time is over, it is no longer necessary to have a big menu, no even more, it is important to have a smaller one and to perfect it. Here I would like to insert a suitable quotation.
Organic, regionality, enjoyment and sustainability are the crisis winners
Although in the first three lockdown weeks there was an increased demand for canned food (and indeed for toilet paper), this movement flattened out quickly and sales of fruit and vegetables rose sustainably. Proof that organic and regional products - and thus the "Booming Health" trend - have also gained ground is also demonstrated by these rising sales figures. The sustainability trend had to give way for a short time due to the Corona hygiene protection measures and the resulting unavoidable use of plastic. It is slowing it down somewhat, but only for a short time and so it will soon pick up speed again
It is important to reinvent yourself in a crisis. Covid-19 creates attention for central values of customers and guests. The handling of animal food is also changing dramatically. Interest in the following topics is becoming more and more topical and demands transparency and improvement: slaughterhouse working conditions, handling of animals, origin, husbandry conditions, animal health, breeding, slaughter and also maturation. It is about a kind of holistic quality.
Per capita meat consumption is massive. A human being eats an average of 945 chickens, 46 pigs, 46 turkeys, 37 ducks, 12 geese, 4 sheep, 4 cattle in the course of his life. After three generations of food abundance, we are now reaching a point where the historical hunger is saturated, the so-called "Peak Meat". This movement is creating new food trends: the above mentioned flexitarian, as a trend "solution" for vegans and meat lovers. They do not find it difficult to do without meat and they are open to new substitute products. From the flexitarier emerged the trend "plant-based food". They regard meat as a plus, have a conscious handling with resources and nourish themselves to a large extent vegetable. The next trend movement is bringing out the "Real Omnivore": they value the whole animal, are open to new future food themes such as "cell cultured meat", algae and insects. The focus is still vegetable.
Finally, we would like to encourage you to show appreciation, especially for animals, i.e. meat that you consume. The above mentioned topics do not only concern your health and the animal, but also the regional agriculture.