Marika King, Paulig Innovation Incubator (PINC) Director, knows that modern people use their choices of food to build their own identity. According to King, food and the culture around it will go through a radical transformation in the future. One of the upcoming trends is customising food to suit individual needs. “What does your body need in order to stay healthy? People have different tastes, DNA and bacterial strains. The algorithms use these to calculate the type of food that is best for you.”
Food is the new rock'n'roll! At least according to Marika King, Paulig Innovation Incubator Director. Today, people are increasingly using food to express their identity.
“What you eat and what you order at a restaurant shows the kind of person you are. Health is a huge motivating factor behind it all. People want to optimise their health and live longer – it’s about maximising your life,” says King.
PINC is the venture arm for investments in startups in and around the future of food founded by Paulig in Stockholm nearly one year ago. The goal is to help Paulig renew itself as well as contribute to a tastier, healthier and more sustainable planet.
“Most of our projects must be radical to some degree and therefore they are quite small/early. However, if the startup falls within Paulig’s growth strategy it can be less radical. We are building a portfolio with different kinds of bets and risks”, explains King.
Over the past year, PINC has focused on building its brand and its network.
“We have an interesting line of startups that we are assessing. Some of these have approached us and some we are proactively reaching out to, for example we did an intensive sprint in Denmark given that the food community is more developed there. As a result we have two promising cases there”, says King.
“We are also looking very closely at one in Finland, two in Sweden and one in the UK. Our primary focus in the Nordics, but we can also co-invest in other parts of Europe”.
Food loss must be cut back
How does King see the world of food in 2030? This is her list of the top five trends.
1) In the future, we will eat more foods produced from food waste. Our bread may be made from beer mash and flour from used coffee grounds.
“At the moment, about 40% of all produced food goes to waste. This number must be reduced. Reducing food waste is one of our largest and most interesting challenges,” says King.
2) The use of plant-based foods will increase. New plant-based protein products, for instance, are constantly introduced on the market.
3) Meat consumption will decrease. In the future, we will eat meat rarely, and when we do, the animal will be raised on a farm investing in biodiversity and regenerative farming practices.
“Meat will become a rarer treat. In the future, it will be considered a luxury which is only to be eaten on special occasions. The animal has lived a happy life and we know exactly what it has eaten. If it is a cow, it is grass, which is not only healthier for you but also much better for the environment.”
Urbanisation brings vegetable gardens to backyards
It is predicted that by 2050 more than 80% of the developed world will live in cities. This will increase the need for effective and sustainable food production in urban areas and 4) according to King, fishing and farming will become more common in cities, coming closer to the residents.
“Vertical gardens will be introduced near urban housing, both indoor and outdoor. For example, future buildings may have a fish basin and a herb garden on the ground floor where the residents may pick up fresh fish for dinner – and maybe some dill too.”
Another significant, food-related innovation in the future will be 5) a personalized diet based on each individual’s needs and genetic makeup. King believes that in just a decade, we will already see major leaps in this development.
“What does your body need to stay healthy? People have different tastes, DNA and bacterial strains. The algorithms use these to calculate the type of food that is best for you. Artificial intelligence provides suggestions on the types of food you should be eating at each moment,” explains King.
The development of new technology will support this trend. Smart appliances and refrigerators can play an important role in the new, customised eating habits.
Food is a tool for your health
The conclusion is that, in the future, people will eat healthy, sustainably produced foods.
The historical Indian system of medicine called Ayurveda is a millennia-old tradition based on the significance of food and lifestyle. The concept is based on personalizing one’s diet.
“Now, Western science has started to adopt the same ideology. I have always found this viewpoint particularly interesting. Food is a tool for your health and, at its best, can function like medicine.”
How does food affect me?
The showroom at PINC’s headquarters in Stockholm feature various alluring products from the future. According to King, many types of insect-based food products are displayed in Stockholm at the moment. When King arrives at work in the morning, she first checks the showroom to ensure everything looks presentable, interesting and professional.
“I have found a startup that produces very tasty insect food!” exclaims King excitedly. “It took a while because there are some less tasty, but the Nordics deliver on taste! In general, I believe we will see products combining plant and insect-based proteins in the future.”
King’s own eating habits have also changed over the past few years.
“I eat much more plant-based these days. I think about how food affects me and the environment. I’m a very curious person and I want to constantly experiment with new foods and ingredients.”
What is the favourite dish or recipe of King who is known in Sweden as an author, columnist and developer of strategic business operations?
“Local tempeh* made of yellow peas is one of my absolute favourite dishes. There’s an incredible selection of legumes available these days. We serve it with green cale and grapefruit salad and as well as roasted cauliflower drenched in sriracha**.”
*fermented cake with origins from Indonesia, traditionally made of soy beans
** korean hot sauce
Marika King’s thoughts on the culinary shift:
The world of food in 2030
- Food waste. We will be eating more foods made of food waste.
- More vegetables. Plant-based foods will become more common.
- Less meat. Meat will be a rare treat for special occasions. Cattle will be raised on farms focusing on biodiversity and regenerative farming practices.
- Urbanisation. Urbanisation will enable urban fishing and farming.
- Personalized diet. In the future, we will have individually personalized diets.
- Occupation: Head of Paulig’s PINC Innovation Incubator
- Career: Marika King has managed Paulig’s new PINC innovation centre for about one year. Her previous positions include CEO and partner of Koncept Stockholm and strategic growth consultant for McKinsey. King has also published several books and is a sought-after speaker in Sweden.
- Hobbies: Yoga, tennis, reading. “I always watch every single episode of Master Chef, whether it’s Australia, Sweden or any other country. I immensely enjoy watching people following their dreams and doing what they love.”
- Motto: “You might not always get what you want, but you always get what you need.”