Trying new things, improving the familiar – consumers expect a lot from their food. On the one hand, exotic dishes enjoy great popularity; on the other hand, great importance is attached to regional, environmentally-friendly production.
The spoon smoothly glides through the light green, creamy flesh of the fruit. Once in the mouth, it melts on the tongue, leaving behind a slightly nutty taste – sprinkled with salt and pepper, as a salad or mashed into guacamole cream, avocados are extremely popular. And not only avocados. Exotic fruits have become indispensable in the supermarkets of industrialised countries. No other group of foods has recorded higher growth rates in recent years. Asia has seen the strongest growth in the global fresh fruit market. Exports and imports of fruit in Southeast Asian countries almost doubled between 2008 and 2018. Bananas are added to this, because the yellow fruit has a unique position compared to all other exotic fruits. It alone accounts for one third of global fruit exports.
Open markets and world trade enable a global exchange of food and dishes. Exotic fruit, Indian curries, Israeli hummus – ethno-food is the latest trend. Already an integral part of the food scene in Europe, it is now gaining momentum around the globe. Thai restaurants in Namibia, sushi in Uruguay or German bakeries in Dubai – with growing prosperity, variety and choice increase.
Exotic superfood is becoming increasingly popular in the USA, Germany and Great Britain. Improving health, strengthening the immune system and increasing well-being – according to studies, these are the main reasons why superfood finds its way into the shopping basket. Brazilian açai and Chinese goji berries, for example, contain antioxidant substances and are therefore considered particularly healthy. Ginger is the remedy of choice for colds. With its soothing, essential oils, the tropical root lands at the top of the German superfood list, followed by beet, chia seeds and avocados.
Sustainable and healthy: insect burgers and meat made in the 3D printer
Nowadays, consumers place value on the fact that food is not only healthy but also produced in an environment-friendly manner. As a result, the organic food industry has been recording growing revenues for years. In 2018 there were more than 71.5 million hectares of organic farms around the globe. This area has increased enormously since 2010. At that time, 53.7 million hectares were used for organic farming.
Ecologically compatible concepts are particularly in demand in the meat production sector. The growing world population and its steadily increasing meat consumption are a great challenge. Today, two thirds of the world's arable land are already used to grow animal feed. One solution to cover meat consumption in the future could be the consumption of insects. For example, insect burgers made from buffalo worms. The beetle larvae – mistakenly called worms – are rich in vitamins and proteins and an excellent beef substitute. From an ecological point of view, insects are second to none, and when processed into flour, snacks or meat substitutes, they can be used in many different ways. With ten kilograms of food you get eight kilograms of insect flesh and only two kilograms of waste. A much more favourable “feed-to-meat” ratio than in conventional meat production.
Another way to satisfy the global appetite for meat: “meatless meat” made in the 3D printer. The vegetable steaks feel, look and taste like a “real” steak. The vegetable protein of the steaks is derived from peas, algae or rice. 3D printing simulates the unique texture of real meat. The Spanish start-up NOVAMEAT is planning to open a pilot factory in 2021 that can produce 50 kilograms of artificial meat per hour. To gain a foothold in the wider market, the company is now looking to expand its range of meat replacement products. “We want to demonstrate that our technology works on a small scale and will later work on a large scale as well. In the future, we want to make available a wide range of products that can imitate different types of meat and seafood”, explains founder Giuseppe Scionti.
It remains to be seen whether insect burgers or “meat at the touch of a button” will appeal to the masses. They have definitely fulfilled three important requirements: They are environmentally-friendly, healthy and exotic at the same time.