The Future of Food is Around a Table

Friends eating at a table.jpg

Food has been snackified and liquified in an effort to mold it to fit our on the go lifestyles.  We've fallen into the habit of desk top dining, kerbside crunching, gobbling and gulping on the go. But as our consciousness around the role food plays in our lives evolves to recognise the value that eating together brings to our physical, mental and social health and wellbeing, the future of food will see it return to the table.

Eating together enhances relationships
While talking with a colleague recently he was saying how relieved he was that he had been able to develop such a great relationship with his teenage step son.  A challenging time of life for anyone, he put the success of the relationship down to the fact that each day, they sit down together as a family to eat dinner, taking their time, sitting around a table and talking.  This daily ritual provides the space for his step son to open up and talk, to connect with him in a relaxed and meaningful way.  An opportunity to communicate that otherwise doesn't exist in their on the go lifestyles.

Eating food around a table with others allows for connections to form with those important to us. It’s one way of nurturing valuable relationships.

Eating together enhances our health
What common sense will tell us is true, research has confirmed.  In families with teenagers, those who eat dinner together more frequently have higher wellbeing scores, lower rates of depression and are more likely to be a healthy weight.   With 1 in 5 Australians suffering a mental health problem at some point in their life, connecting through food, that’s eaten with others around a table, is one way to enhance our wellbeing. 

How, when and with who we eat is as important as what we eat.

Eating together enhances brand engagement
Masterfoods recognised the value that eating together has for families in their Make Dinner Time Matter campaign while a Canadian company, Presidents Choice, has initiated a campaign based onthe hashtag #EatTogether with an emotionally compelling video in support.  Companies are now recognising that 'health' is much more than physical wellbeing - it also incorporates mental, spiritual and social aspects and food can be a facilitator in each of these areas.

The future is about connections
While we often follow trends that are linked to the physical attributes of foods, such as convenience, nutritional features, packaging formats and price, supporting the value of eating together with others, provides another avenue for significant brand engagement.

This approach has the potential to connect with consumers by aligning with their values and beliefs.  Encouraging the habit of eating together, provides those in the business of food with the opportunity to contribute to better personal and community health and to differentiate in the market by developing and demonstrating brand values that support the enjoyment of food.  

3 useful questions to ask:

  1. What social aspects of eating do we encourage in our advertising and communications?
  2. Does our marketing support eating together with friends and family?
  3. Is there another element we could introduce that supports the value of eating with others?

Encouraging connections with others with food as a facilitator will increasingly create shared value with consumers in the future.