Editor's note: The following article was featured in the July/August issue of PorkNetwork magazine.
click image to zoom ALCIMED, an innovation and new business consulting firm, discusses the concept of “naturalness,” where consumers value more simple and natural products in terms of composition and production processes. This trend of “naturalness” is being shaken up by the arrival of technological innovations, which might be considered at first as antinomic by consumers. However, many of these technologies recently developed are consistent with the essence of “naturalness.”
While “pleasure” is a key agri-food value, health is a growing concern for consumers. And the quality of products plays an important role in consumers’ minds.
Following food safety crises, consumers become more suspicious of what they eat. The origin and “naturalness” of foods could be powerful arguments to influence consumers’ choices. Many products with a “back-to-basics” claim have been launched on the market, with simple recipes, familiar ingredients or minimally processed products, made according to traditional recipes. In the past few years, consumers have been enthusiastic about local products, more natural and lightly processed.
So-called “natural” products represented 18.5 percent of total product launches in 2011 in France. Furthermore, 64 percent of the French chose organic products in 2012 and the amount of regular consumers (at least once a month) has gone up to 43 percent, whereas it was at 37 percent in 2003 and 40 percent in 2011. At the same time, consumers are more and more aware of the need to respect the environment and increasingly turn to products that fit to this sustainable approach.
Where Technology Fits
In the consumers’ mind, technological innovation could be negatively perceived as in contradiction with their desire to consume more “natural” products. However, some companies have developed practical, interactive and entertaining technologies that could fit this naturalness movement and willingness to return to a more traditional diet.
“3D printers” are a trending topic, even if most of them remain at the stage of prototype.
NASA is working on a prototype that would enable astronauts to eat freshly cooked food in space instead of the usual freeze-dried foods. The machine would have cartridges filled with powdered ingredients that would be spread layer by layer to produce the 3D food.