The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s the place that brings everyone together at both the start and end of the day. This certainly rings true in US households where people at home spend up to 60% of their time in the kitchen.[i]
With that said, recent surveys show that most Americans no longer like to cook.[ii] We lack the time, the skills, and the talent. Our busy lifestyles require convenience and as a result the way Americans are preparing food is changing. Fortunately, as convenience becomes more of a factor in how we eat, companies are catching on. The following are some ways in which our growing need for convenience is shaping the kitchens of the future.
Multi-purpose appliances promise less work with great cooking results, which is resonating with home cooks and foodies. One-pot meals are big with those who dislike doing dishes, while all-in-one machines attempt to fix this problem by allowing home chefs to chop, stir, and cook in a single pot.
This trend is already well-established in Asia and in Europe, where the all-in-one Thermomix is a leading brand. In the US, the All-Clad’s Prep&Cook and the Insta-Pot are two of the most popular new small appliances taking consumers by storm.
Finally, a growing essential in today’s kitchens is the need to be connected. According to one survey, more than 73% of home cooks use a smartphone or tablet in the kitchen to assist with choosing a recipe, preparation, and cooking. [iii]
APPLIANCE BRAND TRENDS
As appliance brands adapt their products to fit a faster paced lifestyle, they’re also unlocking new revenue streams.
Many appliance brands are adapting business models to include recurring revenue through food sales, subscription-based and otherwise. Miele has started MChef, a service like Blue Apron, which delivers a meal to your door that you cook at home. Instead of having to prep, with MChef you just pop the food into the smart Dialog oven, which heats each item to its proper temperature. You then give the company back the special crockery the food was packed in, so no waste for the landfill and total convenience to the homeowner.
Appliance manufacturers are also attempting to make products that can accommodate busy lifestyles, looking for solutions that are convenient and simple. One example of this is Miele’s new smart Dialog oven. The Dialog oven is a combination low-frequency microwave oven, convection oven, and radiant oven all connected to a computer. It allows you to cook different things at different temperatures, all at the same time.[iv] A competitive product is the Suvie, a WiFi-enabled countertop multi-zone cooker and refrigerator that easily turns four individual meal components (raw proteins, fresh vegetables, dry starches, and chef-designed sauces) into one perfectly cooked, restaurant quality meal that’s ready whenever you want it to be.[v]
FOOD SAFETY AND PREP TRENDS
I spoke at length with Dhairya Dand, a food futurist who is a member of Engine Group’s Expert Network. Dand identified a variety of new innovations tied to food safety and preparation. For example, Nima Laboratories and Stratio’s LinkSquare have developed sensors that can be embedded in appliances or containers to analyze the freshness of food, its ripeness, its purity, and determine if it contains allergens that are harmful to someone in the household. Other companies are working on technologies that prolong the life of a food product, allowing it to be consumed safely and eliminating waste.
Sensors embedded in our cabinets, countertops, and appliances can track the products we have in our pantries, help determine the freshness of the food in our fridges, tell us new ways to prepare a meal, and let us know what foods might heal specific health concerns. In fact, technology is making the science aspect of cooking easier, and helping with the art of cooking by showing different flavor combinations, as well as demonstrating techniques to make a finished dish more attractive/interesting to the consumer. For example, companies are developing smart countertops that can generate ideas on what to create. Just place a lemon, dry pasta, butter, and cheese on a smart countertop, and a recipe pops up guiding the cook on tonight’s dinner.
Dand also highlighted incorporating whole foods into the diet for medicinal purposes. He explained that 21-25 million Americans suffer from gastrointestinal problems that might be better controlled by a diet change than by meds. Consuming the right foods, prepped and cooked the right way, can lead to a better life and improved health.
WHERE WE’RE HEADED
The kitchen of the future continues to change, it may morph into different formats according to the day of the week. Monday through Friday, it may be an organic vending machine used to reheat food delivered by external services, while on the weekend, it becomes a space for meal prep and cooking. And for those who don’t want to cook, imagine the Uber kitchen, where we rent a kitchen/dining room from a facility, and allow someone else to shop, prep, cook, and clean up.
The possibilities of the kitchen of the future are endless. And as we continue to dive into the trends shaping our lives, we at Engine are excited to see what they cook up next. If you would like to discover how we could help you get serious about trend tracking and analysis, please contact us. If need expert insight into how trends will shape the future of your industry, search and review some of our trend experts.
[i] “Kitchens of the Future: Smart and Fast, but Not Much Fun,” NewYorkTimes.com, October 13, 2017.
[ii] “90% of Americans don’t like to cook — and it’s costing them thousands each year,” USA Today, September 27, 2017 and “The Grocery Industry Confronts a New Problem: Only 10% of Americans Love Cooking,” Harvard Business Review, September 22, 2017.
[iv] “The Kitchen of the Future might be no kitchen at all,” Treehugger.com, August 18, 2018.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann Romeo is Senior Analyst with Engine’s Accelerated Intelligence Service. At Engine, Ann specializes in providing information and insights tailored to help clients gain better knowledge of markets, technologies, products and competitors. In her 34 years with Engine, Ann has developed a deep knowledge of a variety of industries, including packaging and printing, energy, security, construction, building products, logistics, household chemicals, beverages, and pet supplies. Ever curious, Ann delights in learning about new markets and technologies. Away from work, Ann enjoys contract bridge, and has represented her district at the national level.
If you’d like to talk to Ann about how you can integrate trends into your strategy, please email her at Ann.Romeo@Enginegroup.com