Tango says that ‘twenty years is nothing’, but when it comes to eating habits, it means an eternity. Even a decade is a long time and it makes a difference from the previous one. Because, if something defines the diet of Spaniards in the last 50 years, it is the dizzying pace at which changes have occurred, which, moreover, we have adopted with astonishing ease, almost without realizing it. And the wheel keeps turning: both our food pyramid and the ritual of buying food and enjoying it continue to vary. And, in its rhythm, the food and packaging industry. Is it possible to know what and how we will eat in ten years? And how will we buy it? There are trends that are already emerging. These are, according to five experts, the most relevant changes.
“You don’t need so much meat, nor is it sustainable for the planet. So we will mainly eat plants, which, according to many studies, is very beneficial in reducing the number of chronic diseases “, indicates Eduard Baladia, dietician-nutritionist of the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In the 90s, meat consumption reached its peak, with 119 kilos per person per year compared to the 22 kilos consumed in 1961, and this century has already dropped to 93 … and it is predicted that it will no longer return to its golden age in the next few years.
Search for new sources of protein
The human being needs protein to live and does not want to abuse meat. So where will you get them from? The best quality vegetable protein sources will be exploited, such as soybeans –in all its forms– or quinoa, which provide as much protein as many meats or fish and with little fat. Nuts, seeds … Our dishes will have these additions as usual: right now they are a tasty dressing, but they will become a ‘must’, like algae, which, at the moment, are not very popular. They are very rich in proteins (like spirulina), carbohydrates, fiber, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, in addition to having numerous vitamins. Many nutrition experts consider them ‘the food of the future’, alone, as a side dish or as a dressing: they are healthy, their production is organic and they help to lose weight –remember that obesity is already a serious problem in developed countries– due to its low caloric intake. In addition, as there is a great variety, they cover different needs and provide different flavors.
A ‘different’ purchase
- In bulk
“Models of supermarkets are beginning to be seen where food and even cleaning products are in bulk, as before. There are shampoo vending machines where you fill your own bottle! ”Says Roberta, who hopes this ‘eco’ trend will flourish. Of course, plastic bags should be history in 2030.
Who has not returned the bottle shells as a child to recover some coins? In some countries it is already being done again with a certain normality and in Spain the trend is going in that direction. “Reducing materials is key,” says Barbán.
More new niche markets to grow? Yes, that of insects and their larvae. Right now, in Spain an insect is not legally considered raw material for edibles. But, as soon as the EU finishes the process of regularization of the so-called ‘new foods’, it will offer a legislative umbrella for all neighboring countries and ours will see how the market opens up to, for example, flours made from worms (with 60% protein), a quantity much higher than that contained in beef (33%), chicken (23%), salmon (22%) or eggs (12%). For this reason, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recommends its use for years to feed the more than 7.7 billion people who inhabit the planet.
Salt is the invisible enemy. We abuse it: sometimes, because we overdo it when adding it to dishes, but, above all, because it is present, and usually in large quantities, in processed foods, since it enhances the flavor and is very addictive. In fact, around 80% of the salt we eat is this way, not because we go crazy with the salt shaker. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning of this problem for years: the majority of the population doubles the recommended intake of salt – five grams per day., which contributes to high blood pressure and increases the risk of heart problems and strokes, ailments that are at the top of the ranking of causes of death in the developed world. Measures are already being taken in this regard to drastically reduce the amount of salt in processed products by 2025. “There are studies that have linked it to the increase in some tumors,” says Baladia.
“The formulas are going to be improved so that they contain less fat and sugar. And they will also have to evolve, as new priority protein sources –Algae, insects, legumes– will need their own additives to be more palatable “, explains Begoña Pérez Llano, director of the Master of Nutrition, Obesity and Culinary Technique at the International University of La Rioja (UNIR) and professor of Food Technology.
“But, of course, they will only be used if their use is very justified,” says Pérez Llano. For example, it is already forbidden to add colorants to mask that a food is in bad condition … They should always improve the product, not ‘disguise it’, he details. This is already done, of course: there are different food safety agencies that are in charge of periodically reviewing the list of additives and remove those who give allergy problems, for example.
In addition, in ten years, as predicted by Pérez Llano, the additives will be designed for different segments of the population. For example, to make an appetizing vegetable burger for those of us who are already a certain age, maybe we need to give it a touch of flavoring that reminds us of the meat we grow up with, while the new generations, already less accustomed to this type of protein, will be able to appreciate the ‘natural’ flavor more.
Goodbye to the plastic tableware
The war against plastic that has already started … how will it go in ten years? Will we notice it when buying food and eating it? «It already shows a little! The industry is striving to make packaging more sustainable and use new materials “, indicates Roberta Barbán, professor of the Degree in Digital Design at the International University of La Rioja (UNIR). Some things commonly used in our feeding rituals will have gone down in history in a decade. «The plastic straws, the glasses and cutlery made of this material, the same as the ‘tuppers’ … It seems that it will be made as in Japan, where they lead us a lot in this. There, people, who mostly eat out, have their own metal or wood cutlery and their little glass bottle or other durable material to drink water, ”says Roberta. They also use their bento boxes a lot, a kind of tray with compartments for different foods that can be closed and is easily transportable. Let’s say it is a kind of lunch box like the ones here, but with different sections. “You see them a lot on fast trains eating like this, with their boxes, which is much more ecological because they generate little waste,” recalls Barbán, who knows Japanese customs very well.
Healthier and more plant-based food and its packaging … too!
As Baladia explains, people are realizing that the only way not to get more salt, sugars, fats and empty calories than we want is to opt for fresh foods to the detriment of processed ones. For this reason, ten years from now, the dietician-nutritionist considers that «less junk food will be eaten and an attempt will be made to recover the Mediterranean diet, with fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats». But beware, the agricultural model will have to be changed if fruits and vegetables are to have such a leading role: «Our agricultural production model, based fundamentally on intensive agriculture that depletes the soils and drains them of minerals and nutrients, is producing food poorer and poorer – Alerts Jorge Angel, medical director of the Equisalud laboratory. The good news is that there are nutritional supplements that can solve these deficiencies, but it is sad to envision a future where the role of food supplements is not only to prevent and improve disorders, but they will have become another part of the basket of the purchase, completing what we cannot find on the plate ».
Having abandoned the consumption of legumes so much is one of the gastronomic dramas of Spain. They are healthy, cheap … and people love them! In the 1960s, 20 grams per person were ingested and it has been reduced, according to experts, to less than half. Something that in the future is bound to change, due to the increase in population and the increase in meat prices.
They call us junk food and the same foods come to mind: fried foods, hamburgers, all kinds of inventions with melted cheese and sauces … But in ten years the concept will expand. It is already beginning, in fact. As people are going to opt more for consuming plants, the industry is on the move and will offer processed vegetable products “which are also real garbage,” Baladia warns. Y, to make them more palatable and tasty, “they add a lot of salt and fat”. For this reason, in the future, we will have to learn to read labels well … “Labeling will improve, because they will be forced to do better. And always with QR codes you will be able to see detailed information about the food », points out Barbán.
“When purchasing power grew, we went commercial”
Decade by decade what we eat and the way we do it change. Half a century ago, in Spain they ate around 1:00 p.m. and as a family, they ate a large amount of bread (about 800 grams per head per day!), A lot of legumes and little or no processed foods, which had their boom in the 90s, with the economic boom. Decade by decade is changing: now we go back to doing main meals a little earlier – yes, we ‘Europeanize’ – but we continue to eat while we watch TV, with the ‘tupperware’ at work and, often, alone. This is the present … and the future? Eduard Baladia sees it that way.
–How will we eat in 2030?
–The nutritional transition indicates that, when our purchasing power increases, we put aside the traditional, we eat more outside the home and we throw ourselves more into ultra-processed foods. Here this phenomenon has already occurred and I think that in the near future it will return to the good things that the traditional diet had. More fresh vegetables and fruits, more legumes, less meat, less junk food …
-Well, let’s see … The food industry will always try to sell supposedly healthy and sustainable products to consumers, which may not be so.
–Therefore, we will have to be more attentive to what we buy to eat, right?
–The consumer should review well, yes, and have a minimum of food education. But it is not only their responsibility … Governments must legislate to protect us!
–For example, as has already been done, preventing junk food from having super sizes at reduced prices and making fresh products cheaper, but for this you will have to help producers. S. v.