Thoughts on the future of fast food

The Face guide to the 2020s: What’s on the menu? Food futurologist Morgaine Gaye predicts a surge in non-meat meats, the evolution of edible packaging and the introduction of insect protein.

Hi, and welcome to the future: a toasty-warm, carbon-neutral, plastic-free place where your face has replaced your passport and your car drives itself. Weed is legal, alcohol is hangover-free, weekends last three days and we robots do your admin. We can dream.

Ten long years ago, The Face compiled a set of predictions for the coming decade from a star chamber of hotshot experts. That flesh-and-blood editorial team has long since disbanded but their legacy remains. From now until the first day of the new decade we’re sharing some prognostications (as seen in The Face Volume 4 Issue 002) on love, sex, space, AI, cannabis, mental health and plastic surgery (and more) for the years ahead.

Morgaine Gaye (Food futurologist)

What will really change the face of fast food in the next decade is how it is packaged. There is so much wrapping waste – a burger from a production line is handed to a customer who eats it and, within a few minutes, the wrapper is redundant. Packaging will become edible and also compostable – eight weeks from production to soil. We’ll also see more refillable packaging, like the refillable coffee cups we’re already using.

Two ingredients will begin to dominate, certainly headlines, if not always menus. One is mushrooms – not as burgers but as a textured product. The evolution of non-meat meats has been phenomenal and we haven’t seen all the possibilities yet. It won’t be pretend food like Quorn. It’ll be much more food-based, so that we can relate to the ingredients.

The other big ingredient change will be with insects: fast-food insect bites’. We’re struggling with the language at the moment – it’s hard to market worm’ or spider’. But if you grind some insect protein with pea protein, blend it with red peppers and sundried tomatoes, fry it up, and serve with a dipping sauce, who will know?

There will also be changes to the way in which we buy fast food. It won’t just be served from a counter, but available on the street through hot food dispensers. Some people will still want to go into, say, a Starbucks to pick their cake and their coffee. But some people might not. Customers may now be ordering through apps, but they’ve still got to go into the store and it can get pretty crowded. With a vending wall outside, like an ATM, you’ll select your latte or your heated food, tap your card, and the double cheeseburger – or whatever – will drop down in an edible wrapper.”

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