Future of Food
The Future of Food is a topic much debated in the last decade. Its importance and need for direction is evident in the formulated ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ set for 2030 by the United Nations. Twelve out of a total of seventeen of these goals can be attributed to food, from consumer health through nutritious food consumption to the food production process and waste across the food system. We are living in times where the need for change and transformation of our food consumption and supplying sectors is more urgent than ever before. This urgency is particularly visible by examining the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic which has caused devastating conditions but also sparked new innovations across the food service sector globally. For many stakeholders this has vast consequences, from limiting and adjusting consumption behaviour to closing of businesses and unemployment. As we persevere through this challenging period, this is also a time and opportunity for radical innovation towards a more sustainable path of our industries.
Consumers today are equipped with the technology to access knowledge across disciplines in a matter of seconds assisting and stimulating their decision-making process. This in turn means that the chain from production to consumption has become much more complex, where various stakeholder needs, and contexts need to be understood and incorporated to create a more sustainable development pathway for the food service sector, and closely connected industries. The challenge lies in how to innovate the food and wider hospitality industry through sustainability interventions that satisfy consumer demands for food experiences while anticipating and responding to disruptors that trigger transformations across the food sector to guarantee a sustainable future of food.
The research centre Future of Food aims to face this challenge by supporting and providing direction to the development of the food and hospitality industry. It aims to serve as a platform that brings together industry practitioners, researchers and students nationally and internationally to identify current and future challenges across the food service industry and resulting consumer experiences and propose sustainability interventions that can be prototyped and tested through applied research with the aim of stimulating sustainable innovation in the industry. The mission of the research centre is to advance knowledge and support the development in two distinct areas of the future of food:
Sustainable Consumer Food Experience Innovation
The theme sustainable consumer food experience innovation aims at the development of innovative, healthy and sustainable food and hospitality interventions for consumers to stimulate them to make more sustainable and health conscious food choices. This research line benefits from the expertise of the former research center on Gastronomy and further develops the established knowledge on Taste to involve innovations that drive food experiences of consumers. Key topics within this area of research include the role of technologies in food experiences (e.g. immersive technologies - Extended Realities (XR), use of biometric measuring technologies for complementing research methods); the design and testing of multi-sensory experiences that create engaging food environments to stimulate sustainable consumption behaviour; and approaches to sustainable consumer experience design to foster innovation. This research line is characterized by consumer-centric experience innovations in the food context that result in the creation of emotion engaging experiences meaningful to consumers.
Food service transformation
The theme food service transformation deals with disruptors and initiatives for transformation across the food service sector. This theme explores and anticipates on current challenges and upcoming opportunities in the food service industry that will impact segments across the industry (i.e. restaurants & bars, hotels, educational institutes) and consequently the consumer experience. Key topics within this theme include food service efficiency through technological disruptors such as the adoption of artificial intelligence in food service and food service robots; local sourcing and opportunities to enhance transparency across the food supply chain; and anticipating and responding to global phenomena (e.g. COVID-19) impacting the food service industry; all of which are expected to influence consumer food experiences explored in theme line 1.
The research centre Future of Food contributes to and connects education, industry and knowledge development:
- Contribution to education
Through the development of knowledge in sustainable consumer food experience innovations, the research centre will contribute to parts of the theoretical and practical curriculum dealing with food, consumer behavior, and hospitality innovation in close cooperation with the Hotel Management School Maastricht and the Teaching Hotel. Conducting projects on food service transformation in collaboration with industry partners, the research centre opens opportunities for students to get involved in cutting edge industry research projects. These projects also offer the opportunity to develop real-life cases that can be used as study material in content-related subjects of the curriculum. Through the exploration and adoption of innovative research and design methods that include for instance the use of physiological measurement devices to measure emotions in consumer food experiences, the research centre will add a layer to approaching research that can be integrated in research and innovation modules across the curriculum and graduation projects. Through the research centre, students interested in pursuing a masters programme after their undergraduate studies get the opportunity to present their work at an international conference to build their network and discuss their ideas with leading international researchers and industry professionals in the field.
- Contribution to knowledge
The research centre advances the knowledge and expertise on consumer food experiences through sustainability initiatives to stimulate sustainable consumer behaviour. In collaboration with industry partners, the research centre explores and measures the impact of innovations across the food service sector to anticipate and respond to upcoming developments in the industry. The research centre actively encourages students and colleagues to expand their research capabilities by making active use of unconventional research and design methods, such as biometric measurement devices to measure consumer food experiences through skin conductance response or heart rate variability.
- Contribution to industry
The research centre regularly meets and consults with key industry partners taking responsibility in the continuous transfer of knowledge and development in the industry. Projects are developed in collaboration with industry partners to establish an ecosystem where communication and application of knowledge is immediate and constant. Yearly panel discussions in a community environment setup are hosted by the research centre bringing together leading experts from the industry and academia to discuss current and future challenges and opportunities in the area of food and hospitality.
All activities related to the research centre contribute to the overall vision of developing the food and hospitality industry towards a more sustainable pathway that is co-created by an ecosystem of continuous involvement and alignment of applied research, industry, and food and hospitality education. If you are interested to find out more about current activities around the research centre and how to get involved in co-creating the Future of Food, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Danny Han joined Zuyd University of Applied Sciences as professor for the research centre Future of Food in February 2021. He holds a PhD in the area of mobile Augmented Reality user experience design and has been involved in numerous projects studying the user experience for immersive technologies in the hospitality and tourism context. His research primarily focuses on the design and application of augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality enhanced experiences and the impact on consumer psychology and behavior. Danny serves on the board of the Global Food and Beverage Association (GFBA), Las Vegas and the European Federation of Hospitality and Tourism Educators (EuroCHRIE) as well as on editorial boards of various journals. He is a founding member of the Creative Augmented and Virtual Reality Hub and the International Association of Immersive Technology Innovation, and has authored and regularly reviews articles in hospitality and tourism, and wider business and HCI journals. Next to his activities at Zuyd, Danny is also working as senior lecturer and researcher at Breda University of Applied Sciences, where he is largely involved in Experience Design and Research using immersive technologies and physiological measurements in the Experience Lab.
Inaugural speech Danny Han
On April 7, 2022, Dr. Danny Han was officially installed as lector Future of Food. You can here read his inaugural address A Taste of the Future.