RSS feed

Chef holograms and tattooed fruit: The future of food?

Mary Berry and Michel Roux Jr Would you cook along with a hologram of Mary Berry or Michel Roux Jr?

With new-style supermarkets, rapid developments in food technology and digital evolution, might Mary Berry appear in your kitchen as a hologram soon?

Getting groceries delivered to your door after ordering online might seem cutting edge to some.

But in other parts of the world, supermarkets and other major brands are working hard to change the way people are buying food.

It's not just purely purchasing that's changing though - production and food technology are developing rapidly, alongside packaging and branding innovations.

Molecular cuisine at home

Melissa Lehuta/ Modernist Cuisine, LCC

Add some science to your mac and cheese

Dazzle a dinner party with sous-vide sea trout

Dare to cook up Heston's snail porridge

Global innovation research and advisory firm Stylus recently reported some supermarkets are trying to do things faster - like Amazon Fresh launching same-day grocery delivery in Seattle, Google Shopping Express in San Francisco or eBay Daily in India, or the Easy Group starting its UK easyfoodstore.

However others are working to help consumers make healthy, ethical, sustainable and environmentally positive decisions - and upping their "green credentials".

Food 52's provisions department and Wholefoods are already stores with strong ethical curation, and Dutch firm Bilder and De Clerq sells food grouped around recipes, which also provides quantity control.

Senior vice president of content at Stylus Tessa Mansfield says it "elevates the notion of retailer as just a supplier of food, to actually being more of an adviser or more of a kind of food consultant to a shopper".

Taking this approach one step further, In.gredients is the first zero-waste packaging store in the US, which lets customers bring in their own containers and take only what they need.

Brighton supermarket HiSbe Brighton store HiSbe sells sustainable products aimed at "everyday budgets"

Mandy Saven, Stylus's head of food, beverage and hospitality, says this enables both portion and waste control.

The Daily Table is a new US concept store which will sell exclusively retail-expired goods and "cosmetically challenged" produce (a home for all those knobbly carrots).

At the Farmery, customers can harvest the produce on site, giving them a sense of the "true value" of food - almost like a pick-your-own supermarket.

One store that has just opened in Brighton, UK is hiSbe (How it Should Be), which wants to make the food industry more fair and sustainable for all, by selling responsible products that "people on average budgets and everyday diets buy".

At the same time, supermarkets are also being "digitised" to provide intuitive tools and devices that create a more efficient and information-fuelled experience.

Printed burger and fries Digitalisation means the "perfect burger" could be mass-produced by machines

One Finnish store is trialling facial recognition payment systems which, if developed further, could limit or approve purchases of junk food or alcohol.

Intuitive and personalised near-field communications systems can direct customers to certain products - Hellmann's mayonnaise recently trialled promoting recipes and products through digital systems in trolleys in Brazil.

The arrival of 3D printing has already seen experimentation in sugar and chocolate.

But laser technology is also enhancing food-based advertising or brand extensions embedded in food.

Ever get tired of peeling off stickers on fruit? Edible, tattooed skins could now put an end to that - and to wasteful packaging.

Thinking ahead:

Apple with a syringe in it

Tessa Mansfield says: "Tattoos could be applied - like laser tattoos... directly to the skin of fruit without actually damaging skin cells.

"The technology is already there to do things like this laser tattooing to fruit, it's just a matter of the distribution actually happening."

Mandy Saven says since "we've all become sort of digital food stylists", digital technology is also driving forward the way people cook.

Will famous chefs soon appear in your kitchen?

Global Chef is a partnership with the Electrolux Design Lab where holographic chefs appear to demonstrate the recipe "as live".

Then there's the smart knife that can analyse the freshness of food and any bacteria present as it is being used. But it is ways to monitor what we consume that are really taking off.

Mandy Saven says alcohol consumption is one area of focus - recently developed are digital ice cubes that send a text message to a friend if you drink too much.

Augmented reality could appeal to dieters - it makes food appear bigger than it is and tricks the brain into thinking you've eaten more than you have.

Another stage on from that, scientists can embedd a sensor in a tooth, which records all the information about what you eat, breathe in, drink, and smoke, before sending it on to your doctor.

So-called "medi-edibles" or nutraceuticals - foods with added nutritional ingredients - are becoming increasingly popular.

Global sales were put at $150bn (£91bn) in 2011, but are predicted to grow to $180bn (£109bn) by 2017, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Melissa Hogenboom uncovers how to print your own food

IQ Superfood Chocolate says it is high in copper, zinc, iron and magnesium, and probiotic Ohso chocolate is full of the same bacteria found in yogurt drinks, which it claims is three times more easily absorbed.

In Asia "Beauty Candy" claims to have added collagen and fibre as well as cocoa, or for the metrosexual man, there's Mansome - a soft drink with added collagen.

Even soft drink giant Pepsi now has added "fat blocker" dextrin (a type of insoluble dietary fibre) to bottles it sells in Japan.

Those looking to eat more fruit and vegetables are being spoilt for choice - with smoothie pops (ice lollies made of fruit) and kale lollies as ice cream alternatives, or then there are Bluehill Yogurts' carrot, beef, or tomato yogurts.

Fans of meat, nut and vegetable-based Palaeolithic diets can devour Epic protein bars made from 100% grass-fed animal protein, or perhaps a gluten-free, non-GMO egg-white puff IPS (Intelligent Protein Snack)?

Boost your intake the natural way:

Beetroot and feta soup

Serve a beetroot and feta soup

Create a pumpkin and lentil stew

Magic up a mango smoothie

Or for those looking for exotic and natural ingredients, how about trying Chapul, a snack bar made from ground crickets?

In the United States, emulsions and drinkable meals are very popular, with shakes like Skoop taking off - it says it contains a powdered blend of 41 superfoods and 10 portions of vegetables.

Despite the health implications, our passion for sugar and alcohol shows no real sign of waning. However, in the next few years technologists will develop different types of sugar from alternative sources, such as monkfruit.

Mandy Saven says the quest for innovation is still driving taste forward in the drinks market.

"Something which we found quite exciting is new and futuristic ageing processes - and processes that you really wouldn't expect product developers to even try," she explains.

"We've even seen ocean-aged wine" (wine that has been sunk to the bottom of the ocean for a time).

There's even an experiment being conducted on the space-ageing of wine.

Now we'd like to try those.

Join BBC Food on Facebook and Twitter @BBCFood

More on This Story

More from Food

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

  • Seared salmon saladSeared salmon

    Indulge in a healthy salad with spicy smoked chorizo

  • Vegetable risottoVegetable risotto

    Prepare a summertime dish with fresh mint and runner beans

  • Cake representing BBC Food on Facebook Like us

    Join us on Facebook for top cooking tips, tricks & treats

  • Peppered mackerel

    Enjoy this fish recipe with fresh apple and celery


BBC iPlayer
  • John Torrode and Gregg WallaceMasterChef Watch

    Amateur cooks compete to win the MasterChef title

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.