business news in context, analysis with attitude

In a weekend story about food forecasting, the New York Times writes that 2022 "is starting with a surge of a highly contagious variant of Covid-19 that is only adding to the economic uncertainty. Social-justice concerns remain top of mind for many, as does pressure from a fast-changing climate. All of it will affect how food is grown, cooked and packaged.

"But don’t despair. 'Constraint breeds innovation,' said Anna Fabrega, a former Amazon executive who recently took over as the chief executive at the meal subscription service Freshly. She and other food industry leaders in the United States say 2022 will be another pragmatic, roll-up-your sleeves kind of year, shaped by the needs of people working from home and by the culinarily-astute-but-fickle Gen Z, whose members want food with sustainable ingredients and a strong cultural back story, prepared without exploitation and delivered in a carbon-neutral way — within 30 minutes."

The Times suggests, based on interviews with food forecasters, that among the trends we'll see this year are:  "Mushrooms have landed on many prediction lists, in almost every form, from psilocybin mushrooms (part of the renewed interest in psychedelics) to thick coins of king oyster mushrooms as a stand-in for scallops" … "1980s drinks you can barely remember (for obvious reasons) … Look for Blue Lagoons, Tequila Sunrises, Long Island iced tea and amaretto sours re-engineered with fresh juices, less sugar and better spirits" … "Kelp grows fast, has a stand-up nutritional profile and removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and nitrogen from the ocean. As a result, farmed kelp will move beyond dashi and the menus at some high-end restaurants and into everyday foods like pasta and salsa" … Because climate change is threatening coffee production and driving prices up, "Enter robusta, the bitter, heavily caffeinated workhorse that is less expensive and easier to cultivate" … and "the even money is on hibiscus, which is adding its crimson hue and tart, earthy flavor to everything from cocktails and sodas to crudos and yogurt."

KC's View

And finally, the Times offers a bit of hopefully prognostication that I fear may just be wishful thinking:  "With the supply chain in tatters and restaurant staffs stretched nearly to the breaking point, demanding shoppers and diners are out, and patience is in. A growing interest in the historical and cultural nature of food and its impact on the climate will only add to what forecasters (optimistically) say will be a new emphasis on kindness and understanding."

Isn't it pretty to think so.  (I'm on a bit of a Hemingway jag this morning, apparently.)