Food Choices in Flux
Food Choices in Flux: Forecasts + Scenarios
"What's for dinner?" is no longer a simple question.
Millennia of subsistence agriculture and staple foods have given way to a world of abundant choice from among seemingly limitless quantities and varieties of food. As family meals have begun to disappear, as internationalization of the food trade has exposed consumers to new options, and as consumers have moved from home-cooked to convenience food, people all over the world face complex decisions several times a day about what to eat.
These choices aren't simply about finding the best-tasting foods; people are increasingly using food to improve their physical health and express their personal and social values. Beyond just thinking about what they might feel like eating, they are viewing everything, from their food's labor, soil, and resource inputs to the identity of the retailer, as critical markers for their daily decisions.
Underlying this complexity is a growing recognition among consumers that their choices matter. In North America and Europe, decades of abundance have given rise to obesity and diabetes, essentially replacing diseases of hunger with diseases of plenty. This transition is taking place even more rapidly and dramatically in China and Brazil, where parents who once faced the threat of hunger are now watching their children struggle with obesity, but where lack of access to food remains a serious concern for many people.
This report highlights the ways in which consumers in Brazil, Europe, China, and North America will seek to navigate this confusing landscape over the coming decade. These forecasts point toward new values that consumers will emphasize, new contexts that will shape their choices, and emerging strategies that consumers will use to make food decisions. Each forecast includes insights pointing toward new kinds of consumer behaviors that will emerge from these forecasts, along with actions that you can take in response to these demand
This report describes four shapes of change - constraint, collapse, growth, and transformation - that form the basis for the alternative future scenarios of the global food web. These futures will be experienced differently in different places, and differently by people with greater or fewer resources. Set in 2021, these scenarios are not predictions; the real future will likely be shaped by elements from all of them. Figures cited in the scenarios are provocative fiction. The scenarios are intended to provoke you to think about threats and opportunities in the food web and inspire you to devise resilient responses to the shocks and uncertainties of the future.
Each scenario begins with a description of a major shift in the global food web and highlights several key drivers that underlie the scenario. It then paints a picture of how consumers, companies, governments, and other key stakeholders in Brazil, Europe, China, and North America might correspondingly navigate the future in their efforts to access and make choices surrounding food.
(Public Release: Fall 2012)