Sometimes, a lull occurs in the food industry that makes writing about it, well, a little challenging. After joining 23,000 fellow food tech mavens at the 2018 Institute of Food Technologists annual conference last July, I feel on safe ground declaring this is not one of those times. We’re on the verge of two big shifts that promise to shake the world of food making.

Welcome to the Pot Party

We knew it was coming. For several years, predictions of a flood of cannabis products hitting the mainstream have been popping up like weeds. Until now, I’ve insisted the excitement is premature. While I could still be right, unlike last fall’s Supply Side West expo and this spring’s Natural Products Expo West, at IFT about every fifth exhibitor was showing off cannabis ingredients.

Speaking at the IFT Legalized Cannabis & Hemp Edibles session, Linda Gilbert, managing director of consumer insights for BDS Analytics, branded legalized cannabis a “game changer for the food and beverage industry,” noting that legalized cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries. Gilbert says North American cannabis retail sales are expected to grow from $9 billion in 2017 to $24 billion in 2021.

The market is certainly there. According to BDS, 54% of US consumers have tried cannabis, and 80% of North American adults believe there should be some form of legal usage. Gilbert pointed out that multiple brands and CPG companies are making products. While these include gummies, pills, and even pet products,  “low-dose edibles are the fastest growing category.”

There are some hitches: Cannabis still is not fully legal, and pharmaceutical companies allegedly are trying to ban unprescribed usage. Suffice it to say, when cannabis becomes fully legalized —“when,” not “if;” you can’t stop a tsunami — it will be only the beginning of an uphill climb. (Look for Prepared Foods magazine’s “Cannabis Products” supplement, coming soon.)

Silence of the Lamb Burgers

The other big imminent leap involves meat. Or doesn’t. While we’ve kept up with the rising trend in plant proteins, it’s about to get seismic. This will happen via meat (and dairy) analog technology and with lab-grown meat (or, “clean meat”). The technology to mimic animal protein has expanded incredibly, with the likes of Gardein, Beyond Meat, Morningstar Farms, Impossible Foods, and Vivera becoming household words. But the tech to grow real animal protein from single cells of living animals is finally feasible. It only lacks going through the (sorry) growing pains of becoming scalable and cost-effective. 

2018 New Products Conference
During this Powerful Three-Day Event You Will Experience….

Four Keynotes

New Product Development for E-Commerce
Betsy McGinn, CEO, McGinn eComm

Using A.I. & Machine Learning to Mine Consumer Insights, Drive New Product Ideation
Dr. A.K. Pradeep, CEO, MachineVantage

Moving at the Speed of Life: Connecting Today’s Consumers, Tomorrow’s Needs 
Rizal Hamdallah, head of the Futurist Innovation Lab at Tyson Foods 

Minneapolis STREETDive Findings
Amy Shipley, Managing Director/Partner & Liz Moskow, Culinary Director,
Sterling-Rice Group

Two Special LIVE Features

Special Live Feature: “Gen Z Panel”: Teen Consumers—on stage—Talk About Food and Purchase Preferences, and More! Facilitated by Maeve Webster, President, Menu Matters

Special Live Feature: “STREETDive”: Sterling Rice Group leads attendees on an evening out to taste the trends on Minneapolis’ “Eat Street.”

And More!

Making the Impossible-Possible! Impossible Foods’ Plant-Based Revolution
Stephanie Lind, SVP of Global Sales at Impossible Foods 

Meating Tomorrow’s Needs: Hormel Evolves, Links Insights & Innovation
Jim Splinter, Group Vice President of Corporate Strategy, Hormel Foods Corporation

Winning Products Deliver “Authentic” Experience—From Ingredients to Packaging
Linda Gilbert, Founder, EcoFocus

Cut Through The Clutter: A Disciplined Application of Trends To Boost R&D
Michael Gunn, Culinary Director and Giselle Restrepo, Sr. Manager, Strategic Insights & Trends, Schwan’s

Innovation Meets Insightful Nutrition: Freedom Foods Embraces Better For You and The “Gut Health” Meta-trend! 
Rachel Cheatham, President, Foodscape; and Angelo De Blasio, Marketing Innovation Manager, Freedom Foods Group North America

Join us for a look at today’s trends and how they affect the Future of Food. 

Visit for the complete program.