What does our Adaptive Appetites trend mean for food and drink brands?

category - strategy
sector - food & drink
type - features
sector - food and drink
With the cost-of-living crisis hitting consumer wallets and multiple global factors affecting supply chains, food and drink brands will need to embrace innovation and adaptability to thrive in 2023. Joanna Lowry, strategic futures director at The Future Laboratory, unpacks the key strategic take-outs from our Adaptive Appetites macrotrend.

Food and drink businesses are going to have to adapt, innovate and iterate to navigate continuing uncertainty. In much the same way that the coronavirus pandemic ushered in a wave of unprecedented digital acceleration, supply chain disruption and the cost-of-living crisis are driving fast-paced change across the food and drink sector, from a greater focus on local produce to the scaling up of regenerative farming practices and the rise of frugal food influencers. 

Brands should be focused on the two Rs: Resources and Resourcefulness. Resources – because food resources are becoming increasingly scarce. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine – the world’s fifth largest exporter of wheat – disrupting annual sowing, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that 2023’s harvest could be halved. At the same time, farmers around the world are using less fertiliser as prices soar – up 30% in 2022 on top of 80% rises in 2021, according to the World Bank. Countries heavily dependent on fertiliser imports such as Brazil and others in the LATAM region have been particularly hard hit. 

Food and drink brands should also be mindful of consumers’ Resourcefulness. Global food prices were up by 8% in October 2022 compared with the 2021 average (source: FAO), and frugal influencers and initiatives are emerging with fresh relevance. Thai TikToker Phattaradej ‘Top’ Luechai went viral in September 2022 by sharing videos of his pared-back food shopping and cooking with his 100,000 followers of mostly middle-class Thais. In Germany, supermarket group Edeka launched a food waste prevention initiative to make customers aware of the extent of the issue and help them get the most out of the items they buy. 

Published by:

1 December 2022

Author: Joanna Lowry

Image: Patella Crescenda by House of Thol, Netherlands


Swee rebranded by Bedow, Stockholm

Key thought-starters for food and drink brands and businesses:

Redefine indulgence for cash-strapped customers 

The financial difficulties facing many consumers are making moments of indulgence in food and drink more important. Create offers that bundle little luxuries alongside essential items, presenting them as a reward that people deserve rather than something unaffordable or off limits. How can you build loyalty and create feel-good moments amid the financial gloom?
Make sustainability affordable and accessible 

With cost proving to be the biggest barrier to shopping sustainably, consider how you can cater to consumer desire to shop in an eco-friendlier way. Initiatives that help reduce food waste can also show the dual benefit of saving customers money. Consider the entire lifecycle of packaging – including where the product is likely to be consumed. How and where could it be recycled or responsibly disposed?
Tap alternative and local supply chains 

Amid struggling supply chains and people’s concerns about sustainability, consider tapping into alternative supplies. This could include harnessing solar energy, creating a new product from an invasive species, using an alternative grain, or tapping local producers and urban vertical farms. Could you embrace circularity and use waste as a raw material? 


In the face of soaring inflation and fragile supply chains, food and drink businesses have no choice but to adapt. They should focus on the twin pillars of Resources and Resourcefulness in defining future strategies and embracing innovation. 

Our team of strategists have developed a wide-ranging set of strategic decision-making tools to help provide future-first solutions for our clients. If you would like to discuss how our Redemptive Diets macrotrend could support future planning for your brand, or if you have any questions about embedding our macrotrends into your business, send us a message at hello@thefuturelaboratory.com. We look forward to accelerating into the future with you.

Get our weekly newsletter straight to your inbox


Want to learn more about how you can apply these key implications to your business?

Strategic foresight is the most valuable tool you can adopt to identify and chart a course for future growth and long-term prosperity. Our strategic services employ this future-first approach.

Members of LS:N Global can read more about the strategic implications of the Adaptive Appetites macrotrend as well as new downloadable strategic worksheets.

Discover our strategic services