Digital age unfullfilled needs ‘create opportunities for food manufacturers’

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Oxford farming conference

The digital age is leaving three basic human needs unfilled for the post-iPhone generation, which is creating opportunities for food and drink manufacturers, according to food strategist and writer Eve Turow Paul.

Those three unfulfilled needs were: the desire for safety, the need for community and the realisation of purpose, Turow told FoodManufacture.co.uk in this exclusive podcast interview, ahead of her Frank Parkinson Lecture at the Oxford Farming Conference earlier this month.

“I focus on how people are mitigating those needs by the use of food experiences,”​ said Paul.

Young people were spending more of their discretionary income on food than ever before; a trend food and drink manufacturers were beginning to exploit more effectively.

‘A $25 bowl of ramen’

“Whereas my parents’ generation spent their money on drugs and music, my generation is spending it on a $25 bowl of ramen or whatever food experience they can find,”​ said the New York-based strategist.

While young people feel overwhelmed by fears about climate change, terrorism and sundry other worries, the one thing they can control is what they put in their mouths. Firms can exploit that need for safety by offering customers more transparency about how their food and drink products were produced.

“Manufacturers can be clearer about where their food ingredients are coming from; who are the producers, what countries are they working with and what is their supply chain.”

Big food manufacturers should be exploring the use of radio-frequency identification trackers, beacon technology and other systems. “Blockchain technology is becoming a major thing in China right now where people are concerned about food safety,”​ said Paul.

‘Blockchain technology is becoming a major thing’

The need for community reflected the ever-increasing rates of loneliness. “There is a major opportunity for a company to say how do we formulate a community around our brand.

‘My food generation’

“Whereas my parents’ generation spent their money on drugs and music, my generation is spending it on a $25 bowl of ramen or whatever food experience they can find.”

  • Eve Turow Paul

“This is about how do you help people find other people who share their value system. And that can be sustainability of adventure. Look at the example of ​[the beverage] Red Bull,” ​said Turow.  

The final unfulfilled need that food and drink manufacturers could exploit was the hunger for a sense of purpose. “The more people can become connected with that sentiment ​[of growing food for people], the better it’s going to be for people looking for a grounding in today’s world.”

Young people were looking for grounding in today’s world and a sense of purpose: needs which food and drink manufacturers could fulfil, she said.

Paul, who describes herself as a thought-leader on youth culture and the food system​, delivered the Frank Parkinson Lecture at the Oxford Farming Conference​ in Oxford on Friday January 5.

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