Disruption likely to continue in food and fibre production and consumption

A future of food beyond conventional categories

Opinion
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COMMENT: Definitions and classifications of food are on the verge of disruption

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CHANGES AFOOT: In the next decade we will see changes in food safety regulations, nutritional guidelines, grocery store layout and marketing, according to AgriFutures Australia managing director John Harvey.

CHANGES AFOOT: In the next decade we will see changes in food safety regulations, nutritional guidelines, grocery store layout and marketing, according to AgriFutures Australia managing director John Harvey.

COMMENT

No one can predict the future, but Agrifutures Australia, AgThentic Advisory and the Institute for the Future have teamed-up to explore what Australian food and fibre production might look like based on the growing trends and potential disruptions that are already taking hold in these industries today.

The recently released report "Future forces: a ten-year horizon for Australian agriculture" delves into the opportunities and risks in the nation's agricultural system - and all along the value chain.

Taking a closer look and making forecasts based on trends is a way for us to provoke conversations and give people a real sense of the emerging future landscape.

What we see when we look ahead is that, due to an intersection of significant forces from within and outside the agriculture sector, we are going to experience big changes to how we produce, consume and use food and fibre in the next 10 years.

The Future forces report identified a range factors driving this - from environmental changes to technological developments and new infrastructure.

The food system is becoming increasingly susceptible to intentionally misleading, incorrect information.

Rapidly maturing digital technologies and infrastructure bring new opportunities to agricultural supply chains.

Distributed energy production will become easier than ever with advances in renewable and alternatively technologies.

There will be transformation of the natural and the built world on the back of synthetic biology.

And the effects of climate change will define a new era of uncertainty.

Research suggests we will see a future of food that moves beyond conventional categories.

We have only ever had food where the flavour, nutritional elements and physical form are more-or-less inseparable.

That is to say, a banana tastes like a banana, is made up of a banana's molecular components and looks like a banana.

But the boundaries of traditional food products and their categories are starting to blur due to the rise of blended products.

These are foods where the inputs are mixed to meet the messy array of consumer demand - similar to a latte made from half cow's milk and half almond milk that caters to someone's health, taste and environmental concerns.

This is being made possible by advances in gene editing and biological programming, which - in the next 10 years - will completely disrupt the boundaries of food.

Cultured meat, customised molecular production, 3D printing and powerful artificial intelligence will allow companies to use various inputs to design products that look like one thing, taste like another and have a tailored nutritional profile.

It is not only the food itself that will be different in the future.

In the next decade, we are going to see changes to everything from regulations around food safety and standards, to nutritional guidelines, the layout of grocery stores and marketing and communications.

Everything we have built our definitions and classifications of food on is on the verge of disruption - and the one thing we know for sure is that it's going to be exciting to be a part of.

The story Disruption likely to continue in food and fibre production and consumption first appeared on Stock & Land.

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