Back to the future: Like it or not, strange foods are here to stay

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Things certainly do change over time, but some changes can be quite mind-boggling.

About 33 years ago (1985), the Back to The Future film was released and the technological aspects portrayed seemed comical. Today, we have driver-less automobiles on the market and prototypes apparently will be released soon of remotes for television that do not require you to touch the buttons — it acts on your brain activity to change stations, increase volume, etc.

Also, the advancements in medicine have greatly increased lifespan and quality of life.

But what about changes in food? Wow, so many things one could talk about, even within the dairy case.

The battle for many years to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce the definition of “milk” seemingly went upon deaf ears until recently. Now, new plant-based beverages are being labeled to avoid the use of the four-lettered word because they fear FDA will come down on them.

Lots of product options now appear in the dairy case based on the type of product (fluid milk, cheese, yogurt, etc) of interest, low to no fat, production system used for the cows, nutritional fortification, etc. Terms such as natural, organic, non-GMO, and local catch consumer interest.

Vote with wallets

Some of these products come at a premium in price, and thus, some consumers philosophically would answer that they prefer these options, but their behavior does not align, because they are price driven when they shop in the retail place.

But, there are some new animal foods coming into the marketplace that once would have been considered fictional.

Cultured meat

Most of you have heard of the cultured meat that is being researched and market evaluated. This practice takes animal cells and cultures them in the lab to produce animal-based protein for human consumption.

An interesting aspect is that one of the major companies in the U.S. for animal feed and human food has invested into the product development.

Does this threaten the cattle industry? Who would want to purchase such products?

The studies by the Center for Food Integrity reveal that those who desire cultured meat have strong emotional and social motivations that have little to do with the food itself.

The motivations are driven by the desire to be responsible citizens and want to make a meaningful difference in society. They believe meat substitutes will help them achieve a higher purpose.

Is this a little like making sausage? You don’t want to know the process, you just like the finished product?

Animal-free dairy protein

Another new product under development is an animal-free dairy protein food. The process involves the genetic manipulation of a yeast to produce casein and whey proteins that are then used to make dairy-like products such as cheese.

One of the investors is a major animal feed food supplier in the U.S. but not the same company that is investing in the cultured meat.

This new dairy protein source is touted as being cholesterol free, lactose-free, sustainable, kind and more.

This may be attractive to consumers who want the high-quality dairy protein without it coming from animals where they would be concerned for their care and handling.

Yet, this is a GMO product. How will they balance their philosophical views of animal-free versus GMO?

Consumers desire options for their diets that reflect preferences for production systems, nutritional attributes, and costs.

Even though spendable income has increased in the US, cost is a major driver for food purchases.

The supply and demand for specific products will continue to shape the marketplace. The supply will change, even with products we could only image, or even joke about “what if”, 30 years ago.

The demand will change based on the increasing population, shifts in diet preferences, accessibility of food, and many other factors.

The magnitude of demand for some animal food products that once would have been considerable fictional, but which are now being made available, remains unknown.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Three of the four Gospels of the Bible, as well as the Revelation of John, ALL warn of famine. How can that be when food is the cheapest, safest, and most abundant it has been in the entire history of mankind??? The modern population has become extremely foolish and has lost ALL knowledge about where food comes from and has been hooked on CONTROLLED distribution of food and now laboratory made ‘food’. Food WILL be used as a weapon of control. I guess people need to literally starve to realize how so very fortunate they have had things…..

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