Aug 06, 2020 | By Sarah Owen
Big data meets consumer insights, Experience WGSN.
In a fast-paced, ever-changing world, food and drink is a source of comfort, pleasure and joy. Within the home, a meal shared between family offers quality time to talk, laugh, share stories, worries and highlights from the day. These rituals and the emotional connection people share with memories and food are linked to the products we crave when wanting to feel comforted, or transported to a different time or place.
Our highly specialised Food & Drink team of analysts are experts in understanding how the events unfolding around us will reverberate and generate new behaviours and practices and impact how people will eat, drink and dine in the future.
Jennifer Creevy, our Head of Food & Drink at WGSN, has worked in the food and drink space for over 15 years, consulting with brands across the globe on future strategies. Her passion for sustainability and conservation, as well as the joy of eating and drinking, feature heavily in her work here at WGSN.
I caught up with Jen on the fin-to-gill approach, kids’ sophisticated palates, and salted cod ice cream.
Jennifer Creevy: At an early age thanks to my mother’s cooking. I was very lucky that she was an amazing cook. The ingredients were simple but they were cooked to perfection. We ate seasonal, local foods and every year we would pick our own strawberries, peas and blackberries from the local farms. I learnt that there really is no beating fresh produce prepared simply. I still look forward to the asparagus season every year. Then when it’s here I eat so much that I don’t want it again for another year! When I started travelling I just added to this love of food, tasting local dishes everywhere from Brazil to Bangladesh, Iceland to Denmark.
JC: Ha! No, I don’t think so, but I do try. My dishes are more global than those I had during my childhood simply because of the wider access now to those ingredients. I tend to go in phases, trying out different dishes from different regions based on what’s in season, and the latest cookbook I’m trying out. What I’m really pleased about is that my love of food has now been passed down to my eight-year-old son. He really enjoys good food and is a very adventurous eater. Seafood is our favourite and when we were in Portugal when he was five he just couldn’t get enough of the local clams and stuffed crab. He can get quite demanding now though, asking for poke bowls one night and Mexican the next!
JC: I’m really fascinated with Australian chef Josh Niland right now. He’s been around for a few years already and has a cookbook out but he is going from strength to strength. He has revolutionised the fish and seafood sector, pioneering the use of every part of the fish. He aims to use at least 90% of the whole fish at his Sydney restaurant, Saint Peter. He is to fish what Fergus Henderson was to meat when he pioneered nose-to-tail eating at his restaurant St John in London in the 1990s. There are many chefs promoting sustainability who are pushing the boundaries of incredible food and using techniques that are better for the environment. Josh’s fin-to-gill approach does just that.
During lockdown, he did what many chefs have done and created home delivery DIY meals from his Fish Butchery shop. I just drool over them on Instagram – everything from yellowfin tuna tacos to swordfish moussaka. I’m more of a savoury than sweet person but I definitely want to try his desserts too. I saw one recently where he made a salted chocolate magnum using cod fat. Amazing!
JC: Lots, as you can imagine but I’m passionate about how our entire food system will transform over the next decade. The world has woken up to the fact that we have a booming population growth and we simply won’t be able to feed all of those people with the current system. Not only will we run out of food, our planet will be irreparably damaged. But I’m on the positive side of this challenge, I believe that it’s an amazingly creative and ingenious industry, and know that we will find many creative solutions.
Our team is constantly scouring the globe, tracking developments, disruptors and early adopters, analysing how these global shifts will play out and marrying them up to changing consumer behaviour. There are many exciting areas right now including the rise of new protein solutions, the return to local and regional foods, and chefs championing indigenous cuisines and techniques. The world is reconnecting with food and drink in a positive way and we provide the insight and knowledge for innovators to grasp these many opportunities.
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