While the FoodTech industry is promising a revolution in food production, consumers remain guarded about innovations in the food they put in their bodies. Our Food & Technology 2023 builds on and updates our 2019 research to explore evolving consumer awareness, attitudes, usage, and drivers around a range of FoodTech innovations including technologies related to food production and in-home food management through the consumer lens.

THG Food & Technology 2023 Cover

Although technology has a long history in food production, the past few decades have seen an accelerated pace of innovation and the rise of a set of industry verticals that put technology at the center of their propositions. We may be witnessing the emergence of a new, high-tech model of food production with wide-ranging implications for the global food system and a potential paradigm shift in how consumers understand the nature of food itself.

Consumers’ attitudes toward technological innovation in food reflect deep-seated cultural tensions between nature and science/technology, expressed in competing narratives between food that comes from fields and kitchens and food made in factories and labs. Consumers celebrate scientific and technological progress while at the same time seeing them as culprits behind many of the problems facing the food system. 

Growing awareness of and urgency around issues such as climate change, population growth, and food insecurity is helping to soften resistance to science and technology. Consumers idealize “natural” foods and methods but are also coming to understand that these may not be sufficient to address broader environmental and societal challenges. 

Food & Technology 2023 finds that every technology has its own unique challenges and benefits that it will need to address and communicate to consumers. Report highlights include:

  • Hydroponic farming/vertical agriculture are perceived as the most “natural,” posing fewer challenges to consumer acceptance.
  • Plant-based foods are being challenged by perceptions of processing that could undermine their positive health proposition.
  • Precision and biomass fermentation both benefit from associations with “fermentation” as a natural process, even if consumers do not fully understand them. Biomass fermentation, too, benefits from the positive associations of mycelia with mushrooms.
  • Cellular agriculture is the most challenging technology for consumers, raising the most concerns and disgust — particularly with cell-cultured seafood.
  • Technologies such as artificial intelligence and nanotechnology tend to be perceived as somewhat distinct from the others. Consumers see these as generally positive applications of science and technology in the service of expanding knowledge and improving food quality, although they are concerned about a lack of regulation.

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for further Food & Technology 2023 report highlights as we unpack consumer awareness, attitudes, usage, and drivers around a range of FoodTech innovations.

Grounded in primary quantitative and qualitative research, Food & Technology 2023 combines both new and trended quantitative research with in-depth ethnographic consumer immersions and includes chapter analysis of:

  • The landscape of next-generation food production
  • Consumer perspectives on the future of food
  • Deep dive into next-generation FoodTech
  • Tech in the home

The report also explores:

  • General levels of awareness, attitudes, and beliefs related to technology in food including attitudes toward and perceptions of hydroponic and vertical agriculture, challenges to plant-based foods, fermentation techniques, cellular agriculture and technologies like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.
  • Demographic and attitudinal profiles of consumers more/less interested in innovative food and beverage products and technologies
  • Language and connotations related to tensions between nature/natural and science/technology in food and beverage
  • Relative importance of values and attributes related to health, sustainability, production/processing, ethics, animal welfare, etc. in motivating acceptance and purchase

You can learn more about the Food & Technology 2023 report by downloading an overview with chapter highlights and order form here.

 

Learn more about how Hartman’s syndicated reports can be an essential resource to help you navigate the way forward in these uncertain times. Contact: blaine@hartman-group.com