What’s cooking? How the next generations are redefining food consumption

Since the start of our new century, the cooking culture has been developing rapidly. Cooking was and still is hot. Yet, over time and generations, the cooking culture has evolved on many levels – think for instance of cooking with insects that is getting hotter.

We see lots of trends coming and going, with even kitchen interiors being transformed into technology. It’s key for brands to anticipate changes in consumer behavior, in needs and in values. Anticipate the future generations. As Joeri Van den Bergh shares in his Who’s up NXT talk, this next generation of consumers is less patient, dreams of a better world, and focuses on consuming less. They are real entrepreneurs that love making and creating, and they prefer organic fresh products to preservatives. We are talking about a me-economy where failure is an option.

These characteristics contain a lot of opportunities for the future of food consumption. How will the needs of next consumer generations, keen hobby chefs or future housewives or househusbands be filled in? Let’s have a look!

IKEA concept kitchen

The IKEA concept kitchen is a nice starting point which offers solutions to future problems, needs and wants. This concept has been developed based on ample market research. Despite the fact that this is a test concept/ idea, it is definitely interesting to check out the general results of this survey. Both social trends & issues and design & innovation are impacting the product’s development. The concept’s vision is the following:

“Spending more time with one another, which will be a priority in society in 2040. Seamlessly integrated technologies interacting intelligently with users, where devices monitor and anticipate our physical, emotional and mental needs for a healthier and happier state of being.”

The next generations of consumers will gather in the kitchen where a tasty meal will magically appear on the table, rapidly and efficiently, with the help of highly technological developments. The kitchen will not do the thinking for us but it will think together with us, so claims IKEA. After all it is typical for the next generations to want to do/ make something themselves. It is no longer about status and power but about entrepreneurship, about “I’m making it myself”, and about the experience and emotionality.

“Earth-friendly; high-tech; colorful; designed for fresh, healthy food preparation; and all about ‘convenience meets multifunctionality’.”

But this is just an idea, a concept; can it be realized or not? IKEA’s market research is a step towards the future, a nice start for a thought stream. Kitchen products or utensils are produced with different characteristics and functions which we can already link to next generations’ needs and characteristics.

Nutri Pulse-E-cooker

Nutri Pulse E-cooker

Ever heard of the Nutri Pulse E-cooker? In the Netherlands, the first scientific edition of the Nutri Pulse E-cooker has been available since August 2015; further scientific research will be realized on it. Years were spent on the development of this device. It already won an Innovation Award and is now ready for further development and research.

This device prepares food such as fish, meat, potatoes, vegetables and fruit with electric or high-tension pulses. It has already been referred to as a replacement for the microwave oven. It uses the so-called Pulsed Electric Fields technology. It offers many new possibilities and advantages. As for durability, it ensures a lower average energy consumption in comparison with the alternatives as well as less loss of raw materials. The quality is guaranteed by a better food value, and more aroma, color and flavor. As for innovation, it is a highflyer. You can prepare food in mere seconds, which could lead to a huge change in logistics in the catering and food sector. And it is also described as safe, as there is no risk of burning food; and it is microbiologically safe because of the homogenous warming up of food.

They rapidly add that the process is safe for food preparations. Thanks to this science edition, scientists will do detailed research on the effects of e-cooking on different aspects of the food, from texture over food value and aroma and flavor to energy consumption.

As described above, this provides many opportunities for the catering sector, the target group which is currently focused on. But thanks to further scientific research, the regular consumer is now also considered!

Burger in 3D Printer

What about 3D food printing?

Just like regular printers, 3D food printers use cartridges. But instead of ink, they contain several powdered basic ingredients, such as sugar, carbohydrates and proteins. Based on a digital recipe, these ingredients are then mixed with water and oil on the printer head to create a fine meal.

What are the advantages of 3D food printing? First, it offers a solution to food spilling, as any protein source can be used: algae, grass, lupine and insects. This could entail a true revolution in the protein transition, a nice solution for values which the next generations consider to be so important. A second advantage is the opportunity to customize the food entirely to an individual’s age, gender and possible medical disorders. A new food concept has been developed, for example, for people with chewing or swallowing issues. Their favorite dishes are recreated – not only in taste, but also in texture and nutritional value – via the 3D printer.

Many new trends are clearly in full development in the cooking culture, and the next generations’ characteristics and needs are being expressed. Technological evolutions entail more efficient and quicker devices and applications. New steps are taken time and time again, to bring us closer to each global issue. High tech turns into new tech. New investments in technology allow to strive for more efficiency and lower production and treatment costs, making trends affordable and useable.

Want to explore how your brand can connect with the next generations, and with Gen Z in particular? Discover what our research toolbox and expert power can do for your brand!

Ready for the Zoomers - Gen Z report

Ready for the Zoomers?

Gen Z are the digitally native generation: social-media-literate, always-on and hyper-informed. With many Gen Zers coming of age during the pandemic, the past two years put a mark on their lives and outlook on the future. In this report, we shed a light on what makes Gen Z different from the generations before them and what they expect from brands.

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