Bamboo Crowd goes to Food Matters Live

Innovation within food is bustling – from edible water orbs and black ice cream made with charcoal, to plant-based burgers and all-natural grapes that taste like cotton candy.

Bamboo Crowd recently attended Food Matters Live, a unique event dedicated to the future of food and drink, and here’s what we learned…

Unsurprisingly, brands spend a lot on R&D and innovation; from researching the latest trends (and fads) to help unlock ‘the next big taste’, to exploring new technologies and ingredients.

As a millennial who is well versed in the newest fads of this industry, I was keen to wander round to spot anything I wasn’t already onboard with… kombucha, yes tried that; vegan protein cookies, yep had those; insects, yep again; and alkaline water, now… that’s taking it a bit far.

Food Matters Live explored some of the contemporary questions the industry is facing such as: innovations in the ‘Free From’ market, issues with sustainable packaging, the vilification of sugar and the rise of healthy eating. As our obsession with image becomes stronger our identity has become intertwined with food, showcased by Instagram influencers and Snapchat-ers sharing their daily #foodporn. We’re now often expressing ourselves through our diet choices and, once medical needs have become lifestyle choices as the rise of vegans, non-dairy and gluten-free eaters continues to grow. More than that, as our accessibility to information has increased, we want to know our kcals and macros, where and how our food has been sourced, and whether it is sustainable and eco.

Recent innovations have not just brought us new products and brands, but also new services as we empty our draws of takeaway menus and pick up our phones to bring us macro-counted meals to our desks. We’re quickly moving into the era of personalisation AI, chatbots and other digital technologies are changing our expectations. We care about the brand’s story, values and ethos more than ever before and this plays a key role in decision making.

During the event, I walked the floors attending a series of different talks and expos. One the highlights was a talk delivered by Happen, an innovation agency committed to helping ambitious brands grow; the talk formed part of ‘Dining out: mainstreaming healthy eating’. Speaking at Food Matters, they explored the variances between the different generations’ emotional relationship with food, looking at the Baby Boomers who see it as a social activity, Gen Xs who use it for comfort, Gen Ys that see it as part of their identity and Gen Zs who see it for its pure function. This insight spurs innovation to reflect consumers wants.

To stay relevant and be sustainable, companies must keep up with fashions and give us, the consumers, what we want. It’s key to dive deeper into our behaviours to understand what will be important to us – it is here that innovation (underpinned by consumer insight) is critical. We’re in a golden age of food, and fortune favours the bold! We will see innovation and experimentation continue to rise, solving for sustainable living and the war for our taste buds!

By Rebecca Goodall – Consultant at Bamboo Crowd, specialising in innovation recruitment

I’m a Founding Partner of Bamboo Crowd. I help our clients invest better in people and scale through Engine. I solve recruitment challenges and help our clients source the best talent across operations, business development, programme management, and technology. Ask me about good films, beards and hip hop.