The research, published to mark the supermarket’s 150th birthday, examined macro trends, scientific studies and heightened environmental awareness to explore how food preparation and consumption could evolve and painted a picture of life in 2025, 2050 and 2169.
Abattoirs, it predicted, could have declined so much by the 2040s that they could have been replaced by farms making lab-grown meat. Consumers would then be able to buy their own ‘grow it yourself ingredients’ such as home-cultured meat, as well as fish, eggs, milk or gelatine as a ‘fraction of the cost’ that exists today.
The paper fast forwarded to 2050 and used the example of a factory owner whose business was based on environmentally friendly proteins.
Jellyfish, seaweed, algae
Alongside cultured meat, her business offered jellyfish, seaweed and algae – mostly dried and prepares on site in the form pasta, flakes and powders.
“At one end of the property is a farm, cultivating plants that will provide the growth serum in which cells are developed,” the report envisaged. “At the other, giant meat-growing vats lead to a small conveyer belt where there meat is ‘assembled’ with 3D printing technology. The artisan factory has a number of its own robots and the only humans involved in the process walk between the belts performing quality control.”
Other predictions included the introduction of “invasive species” like jellyfish on fish counters in the next 30 years “as recent research has found them to be full of nutrients and vitamins”, scientists potentially farming in space and further bio-fortification of food.
Consumers were also more likely to put the planet first when writing their shopping lists driven by unprecedented awareness of animal welfare, health concerns and eco-anxiety, the report suggested.
“It’s expected that a quarter of all British people will be vegetarian in 2025 (up from one in eight Britons today) and half of us will identify as flexitarians,” it stated. “Sainsbury’s alone has already seen a 24% increase in customers searching for vegan products online, and a 65% increase in sales of plant-based products year-on-year, as customers increasingly consider a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian lifestyle.”
The report also pointed out the possibility of a rise in on-site cultivation of herbs, micro-greens, salads and shoots by 2025, be they vertical or rooftop growing, in homes, at restaurants, canteens and supermarkets.