December 6, 2018 |
When it comes to food, what does the future hold? If the sci-fi movies are right, we’ll all be integrated with robots over the next couple of hundred years, so perhaps a can of WD-40 and a tub of axle grease will suffice. But before we transmute into cyborgs, let’s look at some of the very real trends that have been predicted to rise over the next few years and decades.
Traditional supermarket food and fresh produce delivered to your door has already seen mass adoption, and is steadily growing. As self-sufficiency and doorstep convenience becomes the norm, the days of supermarkets could be numbered, with more and more people opting to spend a few minutes clicking online for home delivery over traipsing around aisles for an hour and enduring traffic to and from their destination.
And how about the fresh produce that’s currently delivered to supermarkets? Vertical farming is another area of agriculture that’s predicted to rapidly rise over the next decade, if renewables can bring the cost of energy down to make artificial photosynthesis much more cost-effective. Why use up huge swathes of farmland far away from cities where vegetables need to be transported to, when you can have mammoth vertical farms close to city centres that take up a fraction of the space, with the produce available right on your doorstep?
Vegetables are not the only foods predicted to undergo a revolution in manufacturing. In 2013, the world’s first lab grown burger cost US$325,000, not the most appetizing price for the vast majority of customers. However, refining their methods, by 2015 the price had dropped to around US$11, which as far as discounts go is about as good as you can get, but was still beyond the realms of mass consumption. However, by 2020, the price for half a kg of artificially grown meat is expected to drop to just US$2-4. Such is the exponential nature of modern technology, if farmers aren’t worried yet, they soon could be.
When it comes to where you’re eating your food outside of the home, restaurants could be set to change dramatically too. We’re already seeing an increasing number use screen as menus in place of staff, how long before they do away with the kitchen too? You may scoff, but if efficient drone transportation takes off, food could be prepared in a separate, cheaper location, freeing up more room for diners in an expensive downtown location, and flown to the restaurant in just a couple of minutes using insulated packaging. All they’d really need is chairs, a bar and some fantastic wifi.
And why stop at drones delivering to restaurants or homes? With the Internet of Things connecting all devices to one another so they can communicate in the most efficient manner possible, as self-driving vehicles achieve mass-adoption, it would be possible for drones to locate and communicate with them, traveling to the vehicle’s location and placing the food through a hatch onto the vehicle’s table, which has been made possible by freeing up the space needed for a steering wheel, gear stick and dashboard.
Peering further through the looking glass, futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts we may one day be 3D printing all our food at home, so there’s a new avenue for Hewlett Packard to go down. After that, the next step is to print off our new mechanical limbs, so get that axle grease ready.