Wot, no meat?

11 Dec 2015

Today the COP21 climate change talks draw to a close in Paris and the big talking point for foodies and anyone in the food industry has to be the discussion about our meat-eating habits and what responsible meat consumption should look like going forward.

From the point of view of the food industry, the harsh facts are potentially boot shaking. 28% of greenhouse gases are caused by meat production and meat eating so, in order to protect our planet, some drastic steps need to be made. Cue some hard-hitting words from celeb supporters such as James Cameron and Meat-Free Monday advocate Paul McCartney who have been shouting about this for a while, along with increasing support from new voices such as the one and only man-machine Arnie.

The fascinating bit will be seeing how the food industry reacts and adapts to this increasingly hard-to-ignore news – the response thus far has been mainly reactive. Whilst the meat-free message creates a demand for some potentially very exciting innovation and NPD opportunities, it also threatens the popularity of beloved meat (and to a lesser extent dairy) focused products. How will the Big Mac fare in a world where eating meat is increasingly seen as irresponsible?

We have already seen the attention-grabbing and very clever ‘Tomorrow’s Meatball’ report from Ikea’s Space10 research lab appear in the wake of COP21 and are intrigued at what else will appear in the coming weeks. ‘Tomorrow’s Meatball’ tackles the big question head-on by exploring food trend predictions in order to lay out ideas of how its iconic meatball might change in the next 20 years using alternative ingredients and developing technology (‘crispy bug’ or ‘lean green algae’ ball anyone?).

These food trend ideas aren’t new – we saw Ento, a London-based start-up company who creates ‘delicious food using edible insects’, take part in the Grey Goose Iconoclasts competition in 2013 and algae has become a bit of a buzzword in recent months in the Brand Development office – but how do we utilise them as part of brands’ ever-evolving relationship with the consumer?

It will be exciting to see how brands approach the increasingly noisy subject of meat-free and what opportunities for electrifying innovation are created as a result – roll on 2016 and all the challenges it may bring!

Written by  David Goudge