The intersection of food, technology, and art is expanding in some weird and wonderful ways. Here’s a round-up of some coolest new food tech trends that have been catching the attention of the F&B industry.
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Food Tech Trends: The NFT wave
One minute we’re all spamming friends and family with random forwarded JPEGs and GIFs. The next minute, these JPEGs and GIFs have been auctioned off as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Explanations for them are not what I would call satisfactory, but people love them and everyone is trying to cash in on them.
Food brands have also gotten in on this action, looking to relieve us of our very fungible tokens for their non-fungibles. Over the last few weeks, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Pringles launched their own collections of NFTs, most of which sold out very quickly. Many other food brands will also introduce their own NFTs, but after the initial novelty, it’s going to be hard to get people interested in buying digitized pizza slices or cookies, I imagine. I’d have added in images of the NFTs from Taco Bell et al, but I couldn’t figure out if we’d need to pay royalties…
Jokes and confusion aside, I can see NFTs as being powerful marketing tools for a brand with a fairly straightforward way to measure impact, i.e., what the NFT sells for. Food brands could offer consumers the chance to own digital brand merch created in partnership with artists, performers, or other influencers. Digital limited-edition packaging or products or even clips of ads could have appeal as collectibles for adults, much like those Happy Meal toys for kids. The act of just being able to participate in a digital auction for an NFT could be exciting for consumers and generate buzz for brands.
Bringing blockchain back to food
At the core of these crypto-collections is blockchain technology, which the food industry has been toying with – not very successfully – as a way to trace food safety risks in the supply chain. This is a really important factor for food, but both business and consumer interest in this technology and purpose has been waning. It can be an expensive proposition for a brand and these costs do get passed on to the consumer. Over the last two years, interest in blockchain in food business media fell by 72.4% and in consumer media by 80.2%, according to our analysis.
Interest in blockchain in the food industry
Log in to the Spoonshot platform to bid on the NFT of these trend lines. Just kidding (for now), but log in to see how other hot topics are faring.
It would be very interesting to see if this excitement over NFTs could result in some renewed interest in blockchain in the food space with specific functionalities. For example, would there be a market to sell traceability of a particular food as an NFT? Perhaps it could take the place of a provenance certificate for premium/luxury foods in the long-term.
Just as an aside, there’s a huge controversy brewing over the high carbon footprint linked to NFTs as climate concerns are on the rise across the globe. This will be an interesting spanner in the network.
Food Tech Trends: “Play with your food!”
“Eatertainment” is an experience that combines eating with entertainment, popular in the food service industry in the form of themed restaurants (like sports, movies, music, and so on). Technology is now allowing this concept to move out of restaurants and into personalized spaces as a way to still engage with consumers and keep food as the core product.
Over the last two years, consumer interest in eatertainment has gone up by 253.6% and business interest by 132.2%
Interest in eatertainment
Pizza Hut is introducing a limited number of pizza boxes that use augmented reality to allow people to play Pac-Man on their phones. This is part of the chain’s new marketing campaign called “newstalgia” to incorporate the nostalgic elements of eating at the restaurant in a modern format.
Augmented reality is another one of those promising technologies that has not managed to achieve its potential in the food and drink space, even though there is tremendous scope to use it in advertising and promotions. Another one of the coolest food tech trends to watch out for from 2021 onwards.
Coming out of the pandemic, where people are still being advised to maintain minimal contact with surfaces, AR could be used as a contactless way to read labels, incorporate recipes, or win discount coupons to save on the bill.
First person brewer
Game developer Auroch Digital announced that it will be launching a new video game in 2022 called Brewmaster. This is a beer brewing simulator where the player can set up their own home brewery, create recipes, and even enter homebrew competitions. The developer has said that the game will cover chemistry-driven brewing, bottling, and labelling techniques. This might be an interesting way to drive interest in craft beer and home brewing, and there is definitely scope to partner with breweries for all kinds of promotional material.
Still from Brewmaster
Food tech is evolving beyond the functional aspect of delivering services to delivering fun, and there is a lot to look forward to in this space. If you want to know more about the biggest food trends for 2022 and beyond, check out this blog post.
Ranjana works as the Lead Research Analyst for Spoonshot. Her past experience includes working with a major global market research company, specializing in food and drink trends. She has also worked with major publications as a writer and editor.