Area of Concern

Future of Food

Opportunities Driving the Future of Affordable Nutrition

This report, “Good Food Is Good Business,” was developed by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) and commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It forecasts the future forces that will drive private-sector business opportunities to create more affordable, accessible, appealing, and nutritious foods for lower-income consumers over the next decade. The report is aimed at four stakeholder groups: national and regional food and beverage companies, multinational food and beverage companies, innovators, and input suppliers to the industry.

In this report, we explore five zones of technological innovation that will spark an affordable nutrition revolution, finally making it possible for food companies to do well and drive market share—while doing good:

AI Collaboration

Toward improved products and better-educated consumers

AI will offer new tools to help multinational and local companies deepen their understanding of consumers’ needs and aspirations. Algorithmic persuasion will also lead consumers in lower-income (and all) markets toward healthier and more economical consumption habits.

Traditional Wisdom

Toward reincorporating time-honored health practices and ingredients

Thousands of years of human intuition about the roles and benefits of food ingredients and preparation techniques will be amplified and reintegrated into new food products. This traditional knowledge will be open, accessible, and actionable by any consumer or producer, anywhere in the world.

Microbiota Management

Toward microbe-friendly diets for optimum health outcomes

The expanding notion of human health—and the interconnected relationship between our diet, well-being, and microbiome—will deepen and open up new opportunities to design food that resists spoilage, tastes better, and targets the nourishment of both bodies and microbes.

Cellular Agriculture

Toward reinventing animal-based products at the cellular level

Advances in the synthetic biology will be applied to food production, enabling the creation of agricultural products through cell cultures that may cheaply and sustainably scale nutritious foods in growing market categories while avoiding the negative environmental impacts of animal agriculture.

Programmable Assets

Toward frictionless transporting and transacting

Food companies will be able to leverage cryptocoupons, smart contracts, and utility tokens managed on blockchains to track food cheaply as it moves from farms to tables. The same systems will optimize organizational functions, enhance food safety at lower costs, and incentivize the consumption of a nutritious food basket.

As synergies between these forces and future opportunities are established, food companies will be able to meaningfully tap into lower-income markets. As you’ll see in this report, it’s good business to create affordable and nutritious food for those who need it.

How to Use This Report:

  • Calibrate your understanding of the problems related to affordable nutrition for lower-income consumers.

  • Immerse yourself in the opportunity zones and their related forecasts to imagine possibilities for the food system on a ten-year time horizon.

  • Explore the insights for affordable nutrition after each opportunity zone to think systematically about how these plausible futures could fundamentally change the landscape of nutritious foods.

  • Engage with the design principles presented in the conclusion to experiment with your own ideas for how you could create new innovations for affordable nutrition.

Good food is good business cover thumb

About The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health with vaccines and other life-saving tools and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to significantly improve education so that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

About the Food Futures Lab

IFTF’s Food Futures Lab identifies and catalyzes the innovations that have the potential to reinvent our global food system. We help stakeholders—multinational food companies, farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs, and more—make sense of emerging technologies, social behaviors, and scientific breakthroughs and take action toward a more resilient, equitable, and delicious future of food. Our research explores the motivations, drivers, and impacts of food innovation. We take the long-term view—one that encompasses multiple scales, uncertainties, and radically different possibilities for the future of food. We leverage foresight frameworks and processes to enable groups to imagine—and create—the futures they want for their organizations, their communities, and the world.

Engage with IFTF foresight researchers and powerful portfolio of tools and techniques to embrace strategic foresight, navigate large-scale change, and lead your organization toward a vibrant future.

Ready to learn about custom foresight research and strategic advisory services?
Let us know!