Chloé Rutzerveld is a critical food designer who explores and questions future food production and consumption. She is fascinated by nature, the human body, and the strange relationship people have with food.
By combining aspects of design, science, and technology, she thinks up new ways to make our food more efficient, healthy, and sustainable. We chatted with her on her views for the future of food & beverages.
What are the biggest challenges you see facing the food & beverage industry?
Next to difficult political issues that cause food insecurity in developing countries (despite the fact that we produce more food than the world population needs at this point), I think the biggest challenge is finding a good balance. Balance between what’s good for us, good for the animals, and good for the environment. A step in the right direction would be to create a more uniform understanding of what sustainable means. Labels like organic, Fairtrade, and eco- or animal-friendly often have contradictory sustainability interests. These labeled foods should become the standard, everything else should get a warning label.
For whom does innovation need to happen the most?
In a world in which more and more people are starting to realize how important a healthy diet is for both their mental and physical health, I think the entire food industry will need to rethink their production process. The food industry has realized this to some extent – they have already started to develop fermented fruit sodas (in which all sugar is converted in the fermentation process), 30/70 meat-plant sausages, and jams thickened with chia seeds instead of pig bones. To spark innovation, collaborations between the food industry and designers outside the field are becoming more popular.
In which areas is innovation most urgent to happen?
I don’t think it is only a question of innovation in a specific area, but we should rather start bottom-up with educating people about food and assure access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food for everybody. It should also be fairly priced, with people paying according to their income. But if I had to choose one area, I would say the meat industry. The environmental impact is so enormous. Fortunately the number of vegetarians and vegans is on the rise, which makes innovation in alternative protein sources and meat replacements very popular! Algae, insects, cultured meat, but also the use of different cooking techniques and food pairings to create new flavors and structures. It’s a very exciting and adventurous field which we have only just started to explore.
How do you imagine the future of beverages to look like?
Water will be the base of beverages, I hope. Clear, or infused with herbs, fruits, or vegetables. But also fermented drinks, fruit sodas, root beer from ginger, ciders, and kombucha will survive the healthy food hype. I also think that our 24/7 mentality will keep increasing, and a large part of society will be even more busy and high-tech, seeing grocery shopping, cooking, and eating as a waste of time. So there will be an elaborate selection of liquid diets based on a person’s DNA, metabolism, and taste which is monitored via smartwatch or in-arm computer. Or perhaps the liquid is the same for everyone, but it has the ability to transform inside the body into the specific nutrient composition your body needs at that moment.
Which trends do you think we will see in the future?
First of all, I’m sure that new technological innovations will not all be horrible and produce artificial food. We often forget that agriculture and farming is technology as well. There are enough innovations, with more to come, that enhance natural growth and create solutions for food insecurity. Having said that, I think there will be two sorts of ‘eating’. 1. Fast & easy – but nutritious, healthy, and sustainable. Made with technologies like encapsulation, 3D printers, shakes like Soylent, or other versions that include everything our body needs. 2. Slow & authentic – cooking with hyper-local ingredients, urban farming, use of vertical growing cells, everything fresh, and natural, whole foods. Small amounts of protein – fish and meat is a delicacy. A combination of high-tech and authentic practices of growing and breeding food.
Which beverage or food innovator or innovation inspires you and why?
On one side I love to cook and like to work with fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the land – but on the other side I am the person thinking up all kinds of high-tech future food concepts that are a little bit sci-fi (In vitro ME, Edible Growth, Anders Eten). These aspects come together in LED growing cells. You seed and harvest your own food – but it also has a technical part, the seed controlling with a specific light recipe. I think it’s a brilliant innovation that allows us to grow fresh produce in the basement, in the hottest dessert, and in space. It can run on solar power and uses a minimum amount of water as conditions are so well regulated.
As a creative professional yourself, what role do you think creativity plays in innovation?
I think creative professionals are a valuable asset for every company. We have a totally different take on things and are like spiders in a web – connecting people and knowledge while using our different take to ask the right questions, inspire, and innovate, together. It can be about creating ideas or concepts, but also about alternative packaging, imagery, eating rituals.
Do you think it is important for brands to co-create with their consumers, and if so, why?
The consumer needs to buy the product – so it’s important to know what your customers want. Sometimes they don’t know what they want and are happy to try whatever the company makes. But thanks to the world wide web, consumers are well aware of the newest food trends and innovations and health concerns. Roles have changed.
What made you decide to jury for the futureoffoodandbeverages.com project?
I think the power and creativity of the members of the jovoto crowdsourcing platform is incredible. Because the future of food and beverages suits my own work and research area as well, I think it will be both inspirational and fun to look at what other designers and creative thinkers come up with. And second, because I’m very curious and interested to meet the other jury members and clients and discuss these future food related issues with them! Being part of the jury for the future of food and beverages allows me to meet the CEO’s of some of the biggest players in the food industry. I would love to share my vision and thoughts about the ideas the creatives come up with to help them innovate. The smallest change would already have an enormous impact on the world!
We are delighted to count with innovative food designer Chloé Rutzerveld as a jury member for the Future of Food & Beverages project. Learn more about the first global think tank delivering inspiration, innovation, and tangible solutions shaping tomorrow: www.futureoffoodandbeverages.com
Join us at the Future of Food conference in Berlin on October 28, 2016 to explore exciting food and beverages industry innovations and developments! Buy Tickets here.