During a recent panel discussion regarding the current and future states of the food and beverage industry, Rene Cardenas, iTradeNetwork’s Head of Marketing and Strategic Planning, was asked how he thought we’ll relate to food in 20 years. Here are some of his thoughts:
‘What’s in it for me?’
In 20 years, we might be more actively asking ourselves ‘what’s in it for me?’ when we purchase food. Two main reasons: 1) DNA and genomics technology could advance far enough to make more personalized nutrition a reality, and 2) The precarious state of health care in the U.S. may condition us to look at our health and nutrition more proactively than we arguably do now.
BBC Science Focus Magazine argues that food will be tailored to your genome by 2028. As the professor quoted in the article states, “I’ll be able to tell you what kinds of fruits, what kinds of vegetables and what kinds of wholegrains you should be choosing, or exactly how often.” That’s a long way from what current nutrigenetic technology provides, but it doesn’t seem unrealistic to assume that type of technology will advance to a degree that we’ll have at least some information on what we should be eating based on our genetics.
Why does this matter? This leads me to the second reason I alluded to above. The health care system in the United States is facing some serious issues. I’m not talking about the politics of health care, I’m looking at the mathematics. Have a look at the Congressional Budget Office’s 2017 Long-Term Budget Outlook. The chart on the cover page is interesting, to say the least. Check out the drivers of these projected increases, though. The CBO is projecting that long-term federal budget expansion will be propelled by spending on health care programs. It’s not close. How sustainable could that be 20 years out, and what does that mean for the reliability and effectiveness of particular major health programs, like Medicare? Arguably, not good things. Assuming this outlook plays out, nutrition becomes a pillar of preventative health care by default.
Summing it up: The question was ‘How will we relate to food in 20 years?’. My answer:
Not only does healthy eating have the potential to become very much a front-and-center issue, but technological advantages could allow us to have a very personal take on it.