Research unveils the cultural forces driving the future of food

The research by TBWA Backslash reveals the influential movements driving spend in the food category

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


The future of food is being driven by trends including people seeking more autonomy over their personal health, to a growing consciousness of climate change. According to a new report from TBWA\Worldwide’s research arm, Backslash, new cultural behaviours are driving the category forward.

The report draws upon knowledge and insight from 42 culture spotters across the globe and not only identifies trends but considers how brands can maximise them. The agency’s research tool, the Disruption Index processes survey responses from almost 8,000 participants in 18 countries to analyze Backslash’s key cultural shifts and explore how they are influencing both consumer awareness and behavior.

The overarching message of the report is that whilst it may not be instantly thought of as culture, food is at the heart of many cultural issues such as climate change and social justice. 

“From the societal implications of how we consume and create food, to future-facing thinking about how food can positively affect our lives and the world we live in, this report covers the whole spectrum. From giving solutions to food shortages to outlining how the future of our planet may lay in the technology of food,” explains Sandie Dilger, the Chief Strategy Officer at TBWA\London.

The report comes at a time where due to its close proximity to social issues, food should no longer be assessed as a standalone industry, but as a key ingredient in the push toward a brighter future.

As a result one of the key topics the report explores is the search for ‘good food’ moving toward a search for more ethical, sustainable and inclusive products. Where ‘good food’ might once have been more closely tied to quality, aesthetics and cooking technique, now many consumers are judging food through a more responsible lens. According to the research, “‘Spending money in a way that supports sustainability’ was the third most significant driver for buying behaviour in food and beverage”. This could lead to a rise in more carbon-labelled products and calls for greater transparency around the entire production process.

Another key topic the report explores is the way lines between food and pharma are being blurred: ‘As the relationship between Big Food and Big Pharma is exposed, individuals will look to businesses to fix the root of their health problems rather than sell them band-aid solutions.’ Post-pandemic consumers are seeking more autonomy over their own health and diet is one way people are able to get this control. The research shows that ‘Being able to make decisions about my health and body in my own best interest’ was the #1 category in the Index.

The other two key topics explored are technology’s role in food and ‘food beyond consumption’ which looks at how as the food system gets a redesign, passive consumers will become active participants. 

By considering the changing consumer needs and motivations brands have the opportunity to be involved in shaping the future of food. With marketers eager to make an impact in culture, the category offers a unique way to enter into the space and this TBWA Backslash research helps bands avoid the fads in favour of more long-term plans. 

Related Tags

food & drink

Agencies Featured