One of the great things about being part of an agency network is the variety of expertise you can draw on. The brilliant Omnicom Emerge Food & Beverage trends briefing recently took place and explored what is in store for the industry. Here are a few of the key out takes.

Food is a new millennial obsession, the new rock n roll and their interest has never been higher. Food is the new social currency and the centre of Millennial lives. With this comes a demand for information, 80% wish they knew more about the food they ate and 50% actively seek our new food places to try on a weekly basis.

With food and diet so integral this is most certainly a lifestyle here to stay and not just a fad. However Millennials have a nose for bullshit, they think superfoods are just foods and they share everything! With this sharing society comes judgement and this audience most certainly believes you are what you eat and what you put into your body impacts on your health and wellness, how you look says a lot about you. Information is power but food is a battleground of misinformation, who do you trust? This constant source of information is however a double edged sword leading to stress, after all sharing makes you accountable and there is a feeling the machines are taking over dehumanising us, with many Millennials reporting their own obsessive behavior is stopping them living in the moment and reducing the need for experts in every field, who hasn’t asked Doctor Google for medical advice? 

We’re over artisanal, its time to embrace robot technology. The physical experience is no longer the only experience, for example the ghost restaurants such as Maple in New York offer high fashion delivery for gourmet food. The new wave subverts tradition and embraces using technology as a friend and not a foe.

We’re over ‘wellness’ the most overused word in marketing, in 2017 we’re all about nourishment. We want to nourish not only our bodies but our souls, for example Tom Kerridge’s latest book is called the Dopamine Diet, the new diet plan is all about eating ourselves happy and enhancing our moods, the recent Cacao in E Major event, was an immersive symphony of chocolate synesthesia or in English the combination of music and chocolate to create a sensory experience to promote feelings of happiness. Together with more personalized experiences such as 23 & me a start up which matches food choices to your personal DNA or Habit a science based personalised nutrition solution to help you eat with confidence. We’re moving away from a one size fits all to a more flexible hybrid, its the end of healthy eating as we know it and a more balanced understanding where the psychological is as important as the physical. 

But its not all about health, extreme is the new moderation, if you’re going to go bad, go big, why waste the once weekly blow out on a McDonalds burger when you can go fully loaded and artisan. Millennials aren’t going to feel guilty about the occasional indulgence. Food offers the ultimate visceral physical interaction which can’t be replicated by technology.

One thing for sure is 2017 will be the year of reaction, how will we all respond to the tumultuous world events that seem out of our control?

So what are the 3 macro trends taking hold?


Making things better but each individuals version of better for them and the people around them. The brands that will win are the ones with clearly articulated and demonstrated transparent values


Coming together, sharing values and staying true to those values, the safe spaces such as the Sunakku bars in Japan or Ryumochnaya, Russian bars in cultural wasteland, are creating new tribes, places to belong which are missing in this digital world


How to thrive in chaos. Building strategies in an uncertain world, build new models and throw ourselves into them. Unearthing hidden treasures, abandoning the beaten track holds new appeal for example St Pellegrino – Delightways an interactive app which guides users on unique paths through their favorite cities helping them to rediscover the joy of wandering, "the Italian way." Each Delightways path leads you to your destination on a winding route highlighted by inspiring stops – from art installations and gardens, to specialty cafes, food trucks and local boutiques.

What is the future for brands?

This is an uncertain time with the biggest 25% of food companies in the world accounting for just 3% of market growth in 2015 and the challenger brands taking valuable market share with an ever more discerning audience.

Social purpose must match brand purpose. Values aren’t just baked in they are displayed loud and proud, see Sparkke Change a Melbourne social enterprise started by women to empower and encourage discussion and debate.

Food evangelists are no longer limited to a minority group, these consumers are having conversations online about food at least 4 times a week and this group is growing, these are no activists but skeptical, value driven powerful consumers and ignore them at your peril as they will fight back, the good news is they don’t demand perfection, they demand honesty. 

They are looking to move away from packaged products, more fresh, less prepared, they are looking for ethical food and worry about processed options.

56% are under 35

54% are female

28% have kids under 18

38% are married

But more importantly these aren’t hipster food snobs these are real life everyday people and their numbers are growing in 2013 these evangelists made up 22% of the population by 2015 the numbers had risen to 24% and the kids of this group are the mass market of tomorrow so expect a tidal wave of mini food evangelists. Food brands and retailers need to up their game to service this new generation. The traditional retail stores need a radical rethink and need to recreate the energy of the farmers market to attract these consumers.

With trust in brands at a low who do they trust?


Nutritional professionals


Local farmers

Medical profession

66% want to communicate more with brands and 50% expect this to be by social media. Honesty trumps perfection, traditional media still matters and communication is more than words. Future food evangelists need your attention today. 

Looking ahead our brands must:

Have a purpose

Be transparent or be found out

Stay human

In uncertain times, there are massive opportunities to change the status quo and this is what excites us and gets us out of bed.

Thank you to all of our friends at Flamingo, Ketchum and Hall and Partners for their fantastic insight.