The City Food Lecture 2016
Christophe Jouan, Chief Executive of The Future Foundation

The City Food Lecture 2016

As a key player in the food sector, we are proud to support the industry's major events and in 2016 sponsored the City Food Lecture.

The City Food Lecture is organised by seven City of London livery companies whose roots are in the food industry – namely the Worshipful Companies of Bakers, Butchers, Cooks, Farmers, Fishmongers, Fruiterers and Poulters.

This year the Lecture focused on the future and was given by Christophe Jouan, Chief Executive of The Future Foundation.

The global trends analyst delivered a 40 minute address entitled “What, When and How will we be eating in 2025?”

Jouan predicted the rise of “invisible commerce” in the food sector as smart kitchen appliances will simply reorder basic food and household items when they run out, without the consumer even noticing.

He suggested this could revolutionise purchasing habits and create incredible “brand stickiness” for companies who use it successfully.

He saw this as the final step in the race to convenience for the food industry, preceded by new disruptive food buying mechanisms which deliver meal ingredients or even freshly cooked, locally sourced meals directly to consumers - bypassing the traditional retailer.

Jouan also touched on greater consciousness of health throughout society, driven by public awareness of rising obesity rates and due to uptake of wearable health monitoring devices.

These devices will mark the end of “one-size-fits-all” health initiatives and instead deliver personalised insights to consumers about what they need to do in that moment for their health and nutrition needs.

Equipped with far greater knowledge about the impacts of different food choices, he predicted that offsetting behaviour will become mainstream - people will balance indulgence in one area with restraint in another, perhaps justifying a burger by going to the gym.

Other projections included the rise of “flexitarians” - people who monitor their meat consumption due to health, price or environmental concerns.

Major new protein innovations will aid this behaviour, including the “impossible burger”, a cheeseburger which replicates the taste and texture of meat but is made entirely from hacked plant proteins and “sea-bacon” a fast-growing red algae which grows in the Atlantic which has the taste and texture of bacon when cooked.

Afterwards, Christophe said it had been an honour to be invited to give the lecture.

“It is such a British event, with the history and the royal element with Princess Anne in attendance, so it was a real honour and a pleasant surprise to be asked,” he said.

Discussing “invisible commerce”, he added: “I didn’t want to shake things up with what I said, it was more about trying to explain the opportunity that this presents.

“Invisible commerce is a complete revelation and one that is very real.

“The concept that when we’re running low on food, technology can sense that and automatically reorder it for you and have it delivered is huge for food and commerce as a whole.”

Jouan cited Amazon Dash – a new innovation within the retailer's website (currently only available to Amazon Prime members) that keeps a record of your past purchases and allows you to automatically reorder your favourite or most used household goods at the touch of a button – as an emerging example of the technology and said it could easily be applied to the food industry.

Following the lecture, a wide-ranging debate was held, chaired by British lawyer, businesswoman and former star of the BBC’s The Apprentice, Margaret Mountford.

On the panel were Judith Batchelar, director of brands at Sainsbury’s, Chris Elliot, a Professor of Food Safety at the University of Belfast and food writer and futurologist, Lyndon Gee.

They, along with Christophe, took a range of questions from the floor on everything from food security, waste and provenance to proposals for a sugar tax – which was rejected as a bad idea by the panel – and GM farming.

A full video of the Lecture can be found here.