Food, that most basic of human necessities, occupies a central position in our lives in ways that we do not even realise. Most of our socialising happens over food or drink, or a combination of the two. Its not just commoners like us who socialise over food- dinner diplomacy are an important shaft in the armoury of statecraft, as President Obama amply demonstrated during his tenure at the White House.
In fact, food is one of the biggest industries globally. While it is virtually impossible to estimate the size of it, here’s one statistic that puts it in perspective: the combined turnover of the top-25 food companies in the world amounted to a staggering USD 741.2 billion in 2016, just marginally lower than the GDP of the Netherlands.
Currently, that industry is undergoing a huge churn currently due to a variety of factors and Australia is no exception. Here are a few trends to watch out for over the next few years.
- Ethical Eating: Australians are becoming increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of the food they eat – from their farm animals to the best cabernet sauvignon in Australia. A discussion on the environmental impact of meat would be beyond the scope of the article, but suffice it to say that livestock raising consumes about a third of the total fresh water in the world- a significant figure, given the desperate shortage of fresh water on earth. Besides, cattle dung emits methane- one of the worst greenhouse gases. Add to it the cost of refrigerating meat and it adds up to a humongous environmental footprint.
There’s also the fact that there exist significant concerns over ethical treatment of animals in the country, due to which Australians are increasingly demanding ethically producing meat.
- Veganism: Veganism, which entails- among other things- cutting out all animal products from the diet is on the rise. The shift towards veganism is a global phenomenon, but one that is happening at a much quicker rate down under. As it stands now, Australia is the third fastest growing vegan market in the world, with more than one out of every ten Australians identifying himself or herself as vegetarian or vegan.
Not surprisingly, that change is beginning to reflect in the kind of food available in restaurants across the country. As it is, most fine dining restaurants in Australia these days include vegan options, with some going all vegan. It would be a safe bet that the trend will keep growing in the years to come.
- Lower Food Wastage: It is estimated that about 20 percent of the food purchased in Australia eventually gets wasted. While food wastage is unlikely to end anytime soon, with rising concerns about sustainability, it is all but certain that wastage is going to steadily decline in the future.
- Back to the past: Retro is no longer restricted to just music or clothing. One of the more unusual trends rapidly catching on in Australia is the return to traditional, healthier methods of food processing. For instance, sourdough bread, which was about as fashionable as bell bottoms a few years ago, has made a remarkable comeback on the supermarket shelves. Expect more of the same in coming years.