We are voting for the meal of the future
Discussions are a central part of the innovation gathering. The goal for Nofima Mat’s vision of the future is to provide the conditions for a value-adding food industry by 2015.
The goal for Nofima Mat’s vision of the future is to provide the conditions for a value-adding food industry by 2015.
Visions of the future are developed in collaboration with the industry, and representatives from the industry, hotels, restaurants and catering, the ministry and other involved parties all took part in a recent innovation gathering for the meals of the future.
From trends to visions
The first innovation gathering on the theme of the meal of tomorrow was held at Måltidets Hus in Stavanger. With buttons in hand, participants voted on the probability and importance of a total of 23 statements about trends in the meals of tomorrow. Voting was followed by discussion.
“These trends statements are not just random – they are based on thorough analysis using a variety of source material. Innovation gatherings like these are an important part of the process of developing a vision of the meal of the future – our best guess at the meal of tomorrow, you might say. The most probable and the most important trends statements will form the basis for our vision of the meal of the future, including the issues that face the industry and what we at Nofima Mat can contribute,” explains Astrid Nilsson, assistant research director of Nofima Mat.
Discussions bring out new dimensions
The 28 trend statements that were voted on included ‘Leftover raw materials become ingredients’ and ‘Subscription meals’. There was broad agreement that the statement that leftover raw materials will become ingredients both is probable for 2015 and will be important when it comes to value-adding in the industry. Answers were much more divided when it came to subscription meals, so this became a theme for further discussion.
“The answers we get from participants, both in the voting and during later discussion, are very important for the ongoing work on visions of the future,” says Hilde Skotland Mortvedt, head of strategy and analysis at Nofima Mat.
It is important to combine the quantitative results of the voting with a qualitative discussion afterwards, preferably about the things there was most disagreement about.
“I think the innovation gathering has been very beneficial; I like the method so much, I could use it in my own organisation. I could recognise some truth in all the statements and I think they were relevant,” says Per Christensen, director of strategy and business development at the Umoe Restaurant Group.
Visions of the future with the greatest need for change
Visions of the future are a kind of shorthand for what will be different in the future, which makes them very suitable as strategic development tools.
“This is a good working method that provides a great deal of involvement, and it is a good instrument for identifying changes. We have had good experience from using future techniques when working on strategy, both in house and on external assignments,” says Mortvedt.
Knud Daugaard, senior consultant at Nortura, has worked with many different methods for mapping the future and believes that the trend statements with which he was presented at the information gathering were credible.
“Some of these things are already on their way into the market, while others are further into the future. The big challenge is always that it is difficult to predict technological developments and the extent to which they will affect trends in the food industry,” says Daugaard.
Useful to hear other points of view
“In our organisation, I’m pretty much the only one whose job it is to look into the future and communicate what I see happening. Most people are managing what is happening now. It is very interesting to see and hear what the other participants think is going to happen in the next five years – and to have a say in what Nofima’s focus will be for future research. Personally, I would love to see closer cooperation right across the value chain. Where we in the restaurant business could develop meal solutions together with the suppliers. We have already managed to do this to a limited extent and I can see that we really benefit each other. But that would mean the industry being able to supply smaller quantities than they do today,” says Christensen.
The innovation gathering at Måltidets Hus provided a solid basis for Nofima’s ongoing work on visions of the meal of the future. Morten Sivertsvik, who heads the industrial gastronomy and processing area at Nofima, and who chaired the meeting, looks forward to using the results in the ongoing work on research strategy. “Meals are one of four visions of the future we are creating at Nofima, and perhaps the most complex of them, since there are so many factors involved. We must take into account the consumer, the preparation processes, how and where the meal will be eaten, plus elements of health, the environment and social development. So we are looking forward to an exciting process in the spring, when we will be summarising the results of our best guess for the meal of the future,” concludes Sivertsvik.