Hartman’s Food Culture Forecast goes To The Farm

The Lempert Report
November 13, 2019

The Hartman Group held its Food Culture Forecast 2019 summit in Chicago in September to try to make sense out of the emerging consumer trends which seems to be getting more complicated and confusing by the day.

Shelley Balanko, Ph.D. at The Hartman Group said “Contemporary consumers are spending more on foods for health and wellness, sustainability and social reasons, especially early adopters. These consumers are telling us they want different food choices.”

Just what a CPG brand or grocery retailer wants to hear. More complications!

Hartman says this includes a variety of proteins, holistic plant-based foods and responsibly grown meat. Shoppers also want more accountability from food companies, as well as education. They want to understand how foods affects their bodies, today and long term.

“It starts with soil health,” Dr. Balanko said. “We need to rethink our food chain with regenerative agriculture. The state of our soil impacts everything from human health to climate change. As more stakeholders begin to understand how rebuilding soil and biodiversity can protect our future food systems, more resources will be diverted into transitioning overused landscapes.”  

Plant breeders, some of which are chefs, may be the new rock stars of the food world, Dr. Balanko say. Too often, plant breeders are directed to select for yield, shelf life and uniformity at the expense of food quality, nutrition or the environment.  Not as often for taste.

Balanko says that today’s consumers are food smart and are less likely than previous generations to fall for hype and marketing. They have learned to evaluate food production innovations according to four overlapping arenas: lab, field, factory and kitchen. They are asking more questions and want truthful answers.