Bigger than the plate

Image: V&A Museum

It’s very apt that the V&A’s food exhibition Bigger than the plate takes place at a time when Britons are becoming more conscious of what they eat, and the packaging in which food is presented.

The show is structured into four parts – compost, farming, trading, and eating – to outline a full food cycle. You also get to see thought-provoking creations: from cheese made from the bacteria of celebrities to mushrooms grown from coffee grounds. The show includes more than 70 projects by artists and designers working with chefs, farmers, scientists and local communities.

The curators of the exhibition say that with all of us having a stake in the future of food, we can think about how the choices we make can lead to a more sustainable and fair food future.

As well as the presentations, the exhibition poses very interesting questions: What will food look like in the future? What will we want to eat? How eco-friendly will the food production process be?

Research from Mintel shows the direction of travel we will undoubtedly see for some time.

British consumers spent £8.2 billion on ethical food and drink, which is growing in popularity – 83% of consumers say they have bought some food/drink with an ethical certification. This year, sales of ethically certified food and drink are projected to rise by 4% to reach £8.6 billion; the same segment is projected to rise by 17% to reach £9.6 billion by 2019-2023.

What’s more insightful is that 60% of Britons say they would be happy to use their own containers at supermarkets (for carrying meat or fish).

The degree to which personalisation is in the mix cannot be discounted. We’ve reached a point where consumers identify personally with products and want the ability to customise and be involved in the creation of products that suit their lifestyles.

What both the exhibition and the research findings demonstrate is the need for more options and services for people to customise their food. As more customers lean toward a balance between indulgence and healthy diets, personalised food will become a greater expectation.

Today, technology, convenience and personalisation are almost working as one in the food industry. In the future, expect to see technology play a major role as consumers continue to demand convenient food with their own personal touch.

The Attenborough Effect goes further than the later parts of the supply chain, it affects our dietary requirements too.

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