Future Focus: Key trends in food tech & production
Fast food, the sustainable way
In these unprecedented times, businesses of all kinds have seen changes which were already happening accelerate, take off in new directions, or morph to meet previously untapped demands.
Arguably, no sector has more of this phenomenon than food: its ordering, technology, sustainability and delivery.
Pre-Covid, we were clearly well into the age of Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats already. But – just as obviously – the repeated imperatives of national lockdowns didn’t just see demand for these services explode; they also saw corresponding surges in demand for smaller, more bespoke services flexible enough to cater to niche markets.
Even faster food: 10-minute delivery times
More urban, densely populated places than Cornwall are now home to (for example) the Buymie app, with its promise of same-day grocery deliveries and the possibility of ordering shopping to arrive in one, two or three hours. In London, Dija claims to have brought these times down to ten minutes, while Manna, in Ireland, will deliver your shopping by drone, in a way better suited (potentially) to a less urban setting, such as Cornwall. (Their mission is: “to improve the world by making lightning-fast suburban deliveries affordable, green and safe.”)
Those words are significant. As consumers, many of us now expect to have nearly anything we want delivered the next day, or soon after, an expectation easily categorised as unsustainable, given the implications for planes in the air, trucks on the road and low-paid workers on zero-hours contracts. But that mission statement captures a growing sentiment within the sector: that fast can also be sustainable and green.
The importance of food provenance
Demand for the demonstrably sustainable is evident from places like the plastic-free FruutBox, from Hoxton Farms, whose lab-cultivated fat aims to make the perfect meat, and from Trewithen Dairy, now aiming for a carbon-neutral milk (called Earth Milk) rather than a plant-based one.
Which brings us back to Cornwall. Its sheer size, allied to the nature of its road network, means delivery times can never match a city’s, but instead there’s a compensating focus on high-quality, sustainably-sourced produce from the likes of Cornish Food Box, The Real Food Box, Great Cornish Food, as well as Cusgarne, Wallow & Root, and Padstow Kitchen Garden. (All this as well as meat, fish and milk from a variety of local outlets.)
There’s a virtuous circle in effect here, too. Customers looking to make purchasing decisions based on sustainability, packaging, local provenance, etc., see previously-niche businesses offering such options and feel encouraged to use them. Successful existing businesses embolden new entrants, thereby offering still more choice to sustainably-minded customers (which, in turn, gradually helps the whole sector become less niche and more mainstream).
Future Focus & University of Exeter are supporting sustainable businesses
Our Future Focus programme’s partnership with The University of Exeter Business School (based on their Penryn Campus) is particularly keen to work with ambitious companies whose business models have sustainability at their core, not just as nice-to-have add-ons.
One such company is Wild Harbour, based in Hayle. They describe themselves as providing the “highest quality seasonal, sustainable & traceable seafood, from the local day boat fishermen of Cornwall.”
Founder and Director Abi Taylor says:
It is about developing a sustainable food system, being cognisant of where our seafood comes from, and treating our British fishermen fairly. Exceptional customer service, traceability and sustainability are the foundation of what we do [ … ] our buyers work hard to source sustainable fish and shellfish from the local community and further afield, with the aim of minimising the effect of overfishing, thus ensuring the survival of livelihoods and species for years to come.
If, like Abi, your business is forward-thinking, and sustainability is central to your ethos and plans for growth, you could well benefit from working with Future Focus; why not get in touch and find out how?