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What does the diet of the future actually look like?

Sustainable, healthy, environmentally friendly – topics that have become more important than ever in the food industry. Nutrition is in the midst of change: more and more alternative foods are being demanded. What do we need to prepare for? What changes are already underway? We’ll introduce you to the current state of research, nutrition trends, and the global company Cargill, which is largely unknown despite its influence.

Which topics are currently being researched?

Away from meat and towards alternatives – with tofu, seitan and chickpeas no longer a reinvention. But there is more to it than that: researchers are currently looking into these issues in the field of meat, meat alternatives and fish.

Alternative proteins

Researchers have now set their sights on alternative proteins as meat substitutes, including pea proteins. The meat-free range will be further expanded with plant-based burger patties, mince and chicken nuggets. Egg substitutes are also an important topic.

The basis for the alternatives is to be meat from cell cultures, which, properly cultured, creates a hybrid form of animal and plant proteins. From an economic point of view, the switch to meat alternatives results in high cost savings: Animal feed, transport and slaughter are no longer necessary.

Healthy pet food

Less is more – this also applies to cattle. Specifically, their food. While the trend towards meat-free alternatives continues to grow, not all consumers want to give up meat entirely. Especially with beef, the environment suffers due to high methane emissions. Researchers are therefore looking for suitable food that significantly reduces the cause – i.e. flatulence.

Fish instead of meat

In addition to meat alternatives, fish plays an essential role in the food industry. However, in previous salmon farming methods, the fish did not produce healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Essential substances for human nutrition that consumers value. Cargill solved this problem with a crossbreed: the result is rapeseed oil with omega-3 fatty acids, which is added to the feed for salmon farming.

In addition, the breeding of shrimps is automated and optimized with artificial intelligence: shrimps sing when they are hungry. So you set the perfect feeding time yourself. With a sensor the sound can be perceived and the animals get their food.

Health and special nutrition

How can we improve our health, strengthen the immune system? Especially in times of Corona, this topic has become more important than ever for many consumers.

Cargill came across a certain fermentate for animal feed rather by chance: Employees who came into contact with this substance showed a higher immunity. At the same time, resistance to antibiotics decreased. It has since been developed into the dietary supplement Epicor. The drug is already widely used in the USA.

Research into secondary plant compounds is relatively new. In the past, all secondary plant substances were considered harmful to health, but today we know that this only applies to some of them. In the meantime, many of these substances are even considered to be beneficial to health, for example the medicinal plants lavender and fenugreek. In combination with dietary fibres they fall under the collective term of bioactive substances.

Industrial utilization of organic residues

What happens to organic residues? Leaving them to nature alone is one option, but research is also looking at this issue. Why not use the residues of food production sensibly in industry? Researchers have long been working on these possibilities. These are some of the results:

  • If the residual fibers of lemons are combined with natural special gum, the result can make skin creams thicker All without chemicals.
  • Plant fibers and grist are wonderful materials for asphalt in road construction.
  • Even electrical conduction solutions can be created with the help of plants.

What do consumers want? Trends in nutrition

Taste is important, but by no means everything. Especially in the food industry, trends are changing rapidly. Influences include changing conditions: Product prices, availability of time and products are just three of the other factors. But what are the trends? What should you be prepared for?

Less is more: Especially with meat

The research priorities already indicate this: Meat substitutes and fish are the focus. The reasons for the increasing interest in meat alternatives have a cultural background among consumers. Scandals and a lack of sustainability are creating a new health consciousness among many. Already in 2018, about 32% of respondents were eating flexitarian diets, according to a study on Statista. In other words: as little meat as possible – and then only high-quality meat.

Sustainability is important to consumers

In Germany, the desire for responsible products is also increasing. Sustainability and organic are evolving into entire lifestyles that have now arrived in the food industry. Regional products are preferred purchases – in 2018, regional foods in particular brought in the most sales. Fairtrade products are also gaining in popularity in Germany: so far, sales have consistently increased every year since 1993. Global sales of these products were approximately €9.8 billion in 2018.

Organic is on everyone’s lips – literally.

Consumers are also prepared to pay a little more for this. The annually increasing sales confirm this: in 2019, the new high of 11.97 billion euros was reached in Germany with products in organic quality alone. This means an increase to double within ten years.

Focus on personal well-being

Fish with omega-3 fatty acids, special diets consisting of health-promoting plant substances and dietary supplements for a strengthened immune system: the desire for a healthier lifestyle has long been taken up by researchers. Global companies like Cargill are already investing a lot of time and money into these research topics, creating the opportunity for many alternative diets.

Who is Cargill?

The name has already come up a few times – and rightly so. The Cargill company has its fingers in almost every pie in the food industry. The family business focuses on innovation: Fish farming, grain silos and laboratory meat are just some of the research topics. But who is hiding behind it?

In short: the world’s largest company in the food industry – and yet largely unknown.

Hard to believe there’s a bigger corporation here than Nestlé, isn’t it? Still, Cargill’s sales are up by a fifth: $114 million in 2019. It employs 160,000 people worldwide. Third largest meat producer, largest grain buyer and most powerful commodity trader – also globally. Big numbers associated with the company. So why does hardly anyone know Cargill?

The answer is simple: Until now, the company has been run very secretively. Moreover, it hardly produces any end products, but acts between farmers and food producers. Among other things, as a supplier of burger patties for McDonald’s and Burger King. So the name doesn’t appear anywhere in the general public.

A global company with sustainable future issues

Among environmentalists, however, Cargill is under heavy fire. It is considered “the worst company in the world” (according to the environmental organization Mighty Earth) because it condones child labor among cocoa farmers and cuts down rainforests to grow soy.

Cargill manager Florian Schattenmann rejects the accusations. As the largest corporation in the industry, he says, the family-owned company is automatically the center of attention. “Sustainability has always been a focus. External criticism has only increased our internal discussion about it.” From 2017 to 2030, Cargill aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. Further, Schattenmann says 80% of profits are reinvested by the family in sustainable innovation: Here, the focus is on the future issues listed above.