The future of food – from algae milk, jellyfish & insects to space farms

he future of food – from algae milk, jellyfish & insects to space farms
Credit: Margarita Mitrovic

From food as medicine and insect protein to dinners in the forms of implants or patches, the future of food looks more advanced than ever as detailed in a new report from Sainsbury’s released this week.

Commissioned by the supermarket giant, the ‘Future of Food Report’ sees futurologists Department 22, food historian Dr Polly Russel and plant scientist James Wong explores the minutia of what, when and how we’ll be eating in 2025, 2050 and further ahead in 2169.

In the year 2025

Food as medicine

In five years’ time we could see health professional prescribe dietary advice as preventative health. Bio-fortified foods such as Chestnut Super Mushrooms – which are boosted with Vitamin D and B12 – are already on the shelves of Sainsbury’s.

Biofortification as a method is predicted to become widespread by 2025, at a time when nutrition could be a recognised tool used to proactively prevent chronic diseases.

Planet-friendly food  

Due to our rising eco-anxiety, health concerns and awareness of animal welfare, it’s likely that a quarter of all British people will be vegetarian in 2025 (up from one in eight Britons today) and half of us will identify as flexitarians (up from fifth today).

Innovation within the plant-based realm will continue with Banana Blossom regularly replacing the likes of cod.

Algae milk lattes

The alternative proteins market is set to soar by 25%, with algae milk predicted to become the next plant-milk to take over from the popular nut-based versions.

Insect carbonara

Insects will finally shake their ‘ick’ factor and we’ll start stocking up on cricket flour for our bakes and grasshopper pasta for carbonara. Moringa, kedondong and the bambara groundnut will also be found in more of our cupboards, to tackle the issue that nearly two-thirds of our food currently comes from just four crops – wheat, maize, rice and soybean.

In the year 2050

Jellyfish supper

Researchers have recently found that jellyfish makes for a nutritious snack. Full of vitamin B12, magnesium and iron, it’s also low in calories and can be turned into crunchy chips in just a few days.

This may well become a popular staple in our diets given the abundance of the species due to warmer oceans and reduced predators.

Cultured meat

By 2050 we could start to see cultured meat shift from an expensive experiment to becoming more of an everyday item. Sainsbury’s said it could be selling home lab-grown meat kits which can be picked up from the ‘lab-grown’ aisle.

Customised crops

In 2050 we could pick up a carrot from the shelf and know exactly when it was planted, when was plucked from the ground (to the second) and even its individual taste profile. New technological systems, such as blockchain, and a rising need for more personalised information could soon allow for ‘ultra-customisation’ for consumers.

Soon we may well be selecting mangoes at the exact desired stage of ripeness or even 3D printed snacks according to our exact spice tolerance.

In the year 2169

Space farms

Barren landscapes such as parts of the desert could be transformed into sustainable, fertile farmland, thanks to food growing experiments and technologies used on other planets, such as Mars.

Implant food deliveries  

In 2169, we could start to see personal microchip implants become the norm. Developed to store and analyse all the genetic, health and situational data recorded from our bodies, we’ll know exactly what we should be eating and drinking at any point.

Retailers, such as Sainsbury’s could play a critical role, arranging automatic drone deliveries of the required food item or vitamin patch as soon as energy or nutrient levels dip.

Patch dinners

Advances in artificial intelligence could mean we will have the option of consuming all the nutrients and vitamins we need through a patch or pill. With our bodies now taken care of, the role of food will once again play the vital role of bringing friends and families together.