Deliveroo has released its future food predictions and 2040 looks revolting - Gaby Soutar

Bike-based scran-to-door firm’s Snack to the Future report gives food for thought

Deliveroo is celebrating its 10th anniversary. I can’t remember a time before those regular near-misses with cyclists wearing oversized green rucksacks. There’s always a conflict of emotions at those moments. Annoyance, but also sympathy, because it’s a gig economy and they can’t afford a sweeter ride than a rusty penny farthing with a limp chain.

Also, who would want that job, in hilly Edinburgh?

Where I live, near the Union Canal, the towpath has been dubbed the fried chicken autobahn.

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We should applaud, really, as there’s someone at the other end of that frantic cycle ride who needs those wings or an emergency pizza.

There is no NHS number for that particular crisis.

A middle-aged friend of mine was employed by this delivery company, when she was between proper jobs – you know, the old-fashioned ones with automatic sick leave and holidays. She said it wasn’t as bad as she thought it’d be, because so many addresses were mere metres away from the takeaway they were ordering from. They just couldn’t be bothered leaving the house in their Oodie.

These people are probably Deliveroo’s favourite customers.

They’ll enjoy the company’s Snack to the Future report, which was released this week. It looks to 2040, and involved commissioning experts – futurists, scientists and other Beaker-like boffins – to predict what will be happening in the world of eating.

The dystopian read makes me wonder if I’ll still want my job as The Scotsman’s restaurant reviewer in 17 years time?

I’ve been doing it since 2007 and I cling on like a scrambled egg on the inside of a cheap pan.

If any other keen journalist tries to muscle in, I offer them the initiation test of eating pufferfish. Nobody has ever got beyond that point, which is tragic really. So many precious young lives.

There might be a successor though, if Deliveroo’s prophecy comes to pass.

The latest series of Black Mirror has nothing on this.

They think that breath-prints will be making our future food decisions for us. You huff onto a gadget, as if you’re the unhygienic Eighties puppet, Pob, and it analyses your emissions and tells you what foods will enhance your wellbeing. Essentially, you’ll puff away, and it’ll say “broccoli”. Wait until the initial enthusiasm wears off, and you’ll be able to pick up one of these contraptions in a charity shop.

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Then there’s artificial intelligence. It will have made me redundant by then, before adding insult to injury by telling me what to eat. This will involve a “personal AI (a life long AI buddy) which will help automate and tailor what you are eating based on preferences and needs at any given time”.

Who needs enemies, when you have insufferable friends like those? All my real pals know never to comment on what’s on my plate, or to even dare glance at my chips.

Also, I don’t always know what my preferences are, so I doubt AI can do a better job. That’s why ordering something different on a restaurant menu is so much fun. You relinquish control to the chef, then you’re mostly surprised and delighted.

The less said about “food-gasms” the better.

Apparently, visual and audio content will be taking lunch to the next level, though this isn’t a literal When Harry Met Sally scenario. It’s just that food will be really really REALLY nice. The drivers will be getting big tips for those deliveries.

Thanks to virtual reality, we will be able to eat alongside celebrities, or recreate scenes from famous movies. That’s great, because I’d love to experience the live octopus storyline in the South Korean film Oldboy.

We’ll also be able to virtually smell and taste our takeaways before ordering. I wish I’d done that before getting a dodgy fish and chips a few weeks ago.

Instead of no-secco, they anticipate “alt-ohol” – cordials that taste like vino.

There will be technology to change the taste of foods we hate, and restorative restaurants will be all the rage. In these, you will eat on your own, distractions will be removed, and mindful eating will be encouraged. You may as well stay in the house, to be fair. In fact, the increase in solo dining is “top of the list of expert predictions that you and the nation can’t wait to experience”.

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For goodness sake. You can do it now, guys. Just take that sandwich into the hall cupboard and scoff it there.

Among all this futuristic spraff, which also includes something about 3D printing that made absolutely no sense to me, a selection of wholesome and Amish-sounding grains like amaranth, teff, khorasan, emmer and einkorn will be mainstream.

I imagine they go on to become the most popular baby names of 2041.

I think what these boffins have failed to notice is that good food is really all about nostalgia and soul. I doubt that’s likely to change.

Generation Z and Generation Alpha will be at their peak by 2040.

If our planet isn’t on the cusp of extinction and we’re not all eating cabbage soup, as in George Orwell’s 1984, they’ll probably be drawn to the comfort food of their childhood. There will be a renaissance when it comes to bubble tea, Biscoff and takes on classic Nando’s dishes.

Maybe, when restaurant reviews are being written by AI, I’ll open a place serving those.

I can’t wait to welcome Teff and Emmer.



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