The Future of Food in an Evolving Food Ecosystem



Our food ecosystem is evolving. More and more consumers are demanding high-quality ingredients, organically grown produce, humanely raised animal protein, sustainably and responsibly sourced food.   

For example, at the launch of the frozen foods company Hip Chick Farms, known for it’s 100% organic chicken nuggets, “the [consumer] demand was already there,” as the company’s co-founder and president, Serafina Palandech, puts it. “The demand in retail has grown phenomenally over the last four years and in opening our restaurant concept, which we call The Kitchen, you know, we have an incredibly sophisticated consumer. They know exactly what they are looking for and they know exactly what they want to feed their families. So, I really see that the demand was already there and we are filling that need.”

Scott Davis, President and Chief Concept Officer of CoreLife Eatery, agrees with Palandech. Davis, who previously worked at Panera Bread, said “...we feel the same way, there’s a huge demand out there for folks who are looking for cleaner food that they can eat all the time, everyday…” He added that “there are not a lot of places out there that are changing dramatically enough to meet that need.”

This need or demand comes from, in part, the changing workforce of the past 20 years, as Davis points out. Customers are no longer asking “How big is my cheesesteak going to be? Now, it’s where’s the beef coming from? How clean is my food? What’s the preparation style?” says Davis. “There’s a very different consumer out there!”

When Erik Oberholtzer, Co-founder of Tender Greens, was asked if there were enough concepts out there to fill this consumer need, he said “there’s a saturation point in the cities, I believe… I think the real opportunity is migration more towards the suburbs where there is demand, but there isn’t access. I think this is a growing movement. It’s a big country out there. I think cities set the trend...”

It is safe to say that this new food ecosystem is turning into an agricultural movement since large retailers are making business decisions based on what consumers want and are seeking for. “I think what’s interesting is how we can affect change backward into the farmers. So the demand we’re creating is gonna directly affect the impact on organic agriculture in this country… It’s a very difficult for farmers to do this kind of work, but if the demand is there they are more willing to take the risk to convert their land into organic land,” said Palandech.

This episode will dive into a couple of interesting topics. From what the role of a restaurant is in today’s consumer landscape and identifying what has changed in the past few years. To discussing average meal price-points for healthy halo concepts along with living wage standards for workers in the industry.

Take a listen for a high-level discussion about the future of food.