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“What’s for dinner, Alexa?” —Nothing ordinary, that’s for sure!

Experts at the first THINK NEXT by Franke summit discussed key food trends. It became clear that digitization will have a strong influence on future developments in the food industry. Bits and bytes are knocking at the kitchen door and are increasingly changing meals and habits.

Over 500 people caught a glimpse of the kitchens of the future at the first THINK NEXT by Franke summit. The day got off to a relaxed start with bread rolls and jam and acai bowls, before participants went on to gain interesting insights into the areas of kitchens, design, consumer behavior, architecture and technology. As well as the plenary sessions, there were trend labs on the themes of consumer insights, water, food and coffee, and two insight sessions on technology and interior design and architecture, offering new and interesting insights into these areas. So what can we expect in the next few years?

The insight session The Influence Of Technology On The Future Of Cooking by Marius Robles, CEO and co-founder of Reimagine Food (https://www.reimagine-food.com/), based in Barcelona, demonstrated to the audience that we are in the midst of a revolution. Online platforms and apps with recipe ideas have been enjoying huge popularity for several years and, more recently, food bloggers have also begun to emerge. The hashtag #food is currently the 26th most popular hashtag on Instagram with 234.5 million likes (https://top-hashtags.com/instagram/).

Computerized meal preparation on the rise

In future, digitization and its associated technological advances will have a stronger presence in the kitchen itself. The message is clear: Our meals will increasingly be prepared by machines. App-driven electric kettles already exist, and machines and computers are expected to join them in making our lives easier. Following in the footsteps of the soda maker, we can expect to see salad coming out of machines in the next few years. Just a few flicks of the wrist, or a matter of mere clicks, and in next to no time you can prepare a freshly mixed salad, with your choice of ingredients. Allowing consumers to focus on the social aspect and enjoyment of eating. Although this automation gives us more free time, it distances our society even further from the whole process of preparing meals, and products increasingly lose their individual character. Under these circumstances, is the full automation of food preparation even desirable?

Alongside hardware, new technologies—which are not always obvious—are also being developed. Stephan Sigrist, Head of the W.I.R.E think tank(http://www.thewire.ch/en), summed up this trend by stating that “everything is tailored by data.” The availability of data from social media and connected devices and WiFi-enabled appliances, such as smart refrigerators and fitness trackers, offers ideal opportunities for developing new services and applications. However, this also means that the data generated can be collected and analyzed by businesses. This data offers great opportunities on the one hand, and risks on the other. Big data is entering the kitchen. Is Big Brother entering it, too?

With media consumption, banking, correspondence and, in particular, shopping for everyday products, and even clothing and vacations, already having moved online, it is now the turn of our plates to go digital. Are you ready?

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