Are you a flexitarian? Futurist plots new trend

reprinted from Inside Retail Asia and Hong Kong

Business futurist Morris Miselowski has hypothesised the coming emergence of the flexitarian diet and its potential impact on the food industry.

Flexitarianism is a dietary trend of mostly plant-based food with the occasional inclusion of meat. Miselowski’s thesis is that the rise of veganism and consumer interest in where and how our foods are grown is evolving towards a new status quo, where diners are likely to eat fewer meals containing meat.

His observations are bolstered by figures that show a declining consumption of meat per capita, despite an overall increase in meat consumption due to rising population and the growth of the middle class.

“My take is that by 2025, the average Australian will have three meat-included meals per week,” says Miselowski. “The rest will be a mixture of vegetable, plant and alternate proteins – including plant based non-animal meats, such as Impossible and Beyond Meat, that are literally taking the food planet by storm.”

The futurist suggests that departures from our traditional ways of farming will help us grow more crops with less land, water and labour.

“Technology will step in with artificial thinking to increase yields, help select the best crops, reduce the need for water and fertiliser and with artificial robot and autonomous hands to plant, weed, and harvest,” he writes.

“Perhaps vertical skyscraper hydroponic farms, which have 365-day-a-year yields – literally going up, first floor beans, second floor potatoes, third floor tomatoes – may add huge constant production on a relatively small piece of land.”

Miselowski also suggests that people will face the need to revisit what we eat as global patterns change, swapping out resource-heavy post-harvesting processes for wholefoods and ancient grains.

“The future of food debate needs to evolve, if we are going to feed our increasing population,” writes Miselowski. “The future of food consumption is more likely to be found in our journey towards flexitarianism.”

Canberra Approves Drone Deliveries

Alphabet-owned drone firm Wing secures approval from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to begin UAV deliveries in Canberra; CASA says the service will initially be available to ~100 homes in the region before expanding to other areas; Wing has been testing the service locally for the last 18 months.

On this back of this world first announcement ABC Radio Canberra’s Anna Vidot wanted to chat all things future of drones.

Canberra’s drone delivery service is expected to start with 100 eligible homes in the suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin in the coming weeks, before expanding into Harrison and Gungahlin.

We started with the commercial reality of flying drones and my belief that we are 3-5 years away from it being common to the point that none of us take any notice of them.

The company estimates that at scale, drone delivery could add $30m to $40m in additional annual revenue for ACT businesses.

It is trumpeting delivery cost reductions as well as reduced carbon emissions and predicts drones could deliver more than one in four take-away food orders, and up to 4-6% of all purchases in the ACT by 2030.

Alphabet (Google’s parent company) has a lot invested in this new venture, not just in $$ terms but also as the vanguard of an entirely new business and sector.

Our chat soon took us into other lands as we explored human nature and our ability to adapt to technology, and then the question that I love “are our politicians leading or following the charge?

My take is they are lagging behind and when they do play catch up it is often with old business, law and political paradigms that don’t fit new technology and landscapes.

I couldn’t help adding that last weeks legislation to hold social media executives personally responsible for what goes up on their site and maybe even put them in jail, as a prime example of old does not meet new.

I’m all for them being held accountable and we should and must pressure them to be more vigilant, but in this digital landscape it’s almost impossible, currently, to instantly assess and take down hate and horrible images and words.

To preempt or to pre-judge what might be said at some future point and ban its existence today in case it turns out to be bad tomorrow, is the newest from of censorship and I’m still not sure who has the right and ability to judge what is and isn’t appropriate for a broad divergent population.

I absolutely believe that abhorrent material should be stopped, but this is not a zero-sum game and handing over blanket rights to a politician or government official to decide what is and isn’t acceptable is to big a step backwards for my liking.

Amway, have a listen and decide for yourself and then get your messenger drone to drop me a comment, or just leave a comment below (9 minutes 30 seconds).

Are you a closet Flexitarian?

Yesterday’s’ co-ordinated vegan rights protest, blocking off Melbourne streets and causing chaos at various farms and abattoirs around Australia, may well become a defining moment in our future food landscape.

Over a decade ago, when I first worked with Farmers and Horticulture groups, I suggested there was the beginning of a consumer-led desire to reconnect to the land and its produce and an increasing questioning of where our foods were grown and how.

We spoke about how we could best answer these questions and thought it might be possible to take a generic non-descript piece of fruit or vegetable and give it its own distinct humanesque brand.

Back then, the rise of QR codes and increased smart phone ownership also meant it might soon be possible to take consumers on a digital journey from seed to table.

About 6 years later, after keeping a watchful future-eye on our changing food consumption trends and future food expectations, I hypothesised the rise of Veganism, once considered fringe and alternate, would soon become a major cultural and dietary movement that would literally take the world by storm.

So, fast forward to today and here’s what’s next – we’re becoming Flexitarianist’s.

Someone whose diet will be mostly plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat.

aka reducetariant’s and/ or lessetarianist’s – but they just sounds too strange to me.

In the past 6 months I’ve had foresight discussions and strategy sessions with some of Australia’s and the world’s largest meat producers and their research shows a strong increase in meat consumption moving forward, mostly due to rising population and the growth of the middle class, but more interestingly that per capita, meat consumption is dropping.

My take is that by 2025 the average Australian will have 3 meat included meals per week, the rest will be a mixture of vegetable, plant and alternate proteins – including plant based non-animal meats, such as Impossible Meats and Beyond Meats, that are literally taking the food planet by storm.

But this future story takes another twist.

If we are going to significantly shift to a plant-based diet, how do we grow more, with less land, less water and less labour?

There are solutions, but they’re departures from our traditional ways of farming.

Technology will step in with artificial thinking to increase yields, help select best crops, reduce the need for water and fertiliser and with artificial robot and autonomous hands to plant, weed, and harvest.

Perhaps vertical skyscraper hydroponic farms which have 365 day a year yields – literally going up, first floor beans, second floor potatoes, third floor tomatoes, may add huge constant production on a relatively small piece of land.

But beyond this, is even a deeper issue, the need to revisit what we eat.

White rice, white flour and generally anything “white” is a result of an intense water and resource heavy post-harvesting process that was originally purposeful in increasing shelf life and logistics.

But today, given that we shop differently, more frequently and that we are more willing to experiment with the foods we eat, should we return to growing and eating less intensive and resource demanding wholefoods and ancient grains?

Not since the 1950’s, when huge influx of migrants to Australia brought with them unique European, and a few decades later Asian foods, have we seen such a discussion and radical changing of what we eat.

The future of food debate needs to continue, if we are to feed our increasing population.

But the solution is not, as the protestors wish us to believe, a simple one-size vegan diet fits all solution.

The future of food consumption is more likely to be found in our journey towards flexitarianism.

Do we need the radicalisation of this issue and the street / farm protests? Most probably not. But it did get us talking about it.

So instead, let’s get together and have a more tempered discussion on the future of food and what we need to do now to get us to the best version of our future food-eating selves.

Coincidently, because I’m a futurist and saw this issue coming, last Sunday I chatted on-air in my regular segment on Australia Overnight, about the future of food, take a listen now…

Future of Food
3AW Australia Overnight with Alan Pearsall – –
recorded 7 April 2019 – 17 minutes