Food Industry Scenarios 2020: Norwegian Scenarios With Global Relevance


The Culinology initiative of the Norwegian Centres of Expertise conducted a series of workshops during 2010 with representatives of the Norwegian food industry to create three scenarios for the food industry in 2020, focusing on radical lines of development.


  • Food and health, climate change, and adequate food production are the three biggest issues facing the food industry.
  • Scenarios based on these “extreme drivers” describe a shift from meat and dairy to alternate protein sources, increased efficiency and reduced waste, blending of supermarkets and restaurants, and a greater role for IT.


In order to understand consumer needs in the next one to three years, the food industry commonly tracks trends. Developing scenarios based on “extreme drivers” can provide a picture of how the industry may look in the next 10 to 20 years. The goal of this scenario process was to create “concrete and radical” scenarios that would stimulate discussion and reflection about the future of the food industry, and could serve as the basis for corporate strategic planning. These five driving forces are:

  • Food and health. Rising obesity, the aging population, and the swelling number of Norwegians receiving disability payments are prompting greater attention to the relationship between diet and health.
  • Food and environment. Food and environmental issues are increasingly intersecting. Critical issues include climate change and its impact on food production; the need to feed a burgeoning global population; and waste generation in the food value chain.
  • Food service and convenience. Convenience continues to gain importance. Prepared meals, restaurant takeout meals, home delivery of meals, grocery dine-in options, semi-prepared grocery items, and grocery self-checkout are all growing. Meanwhile, cooking knowledge is declining.
  • Meal experience. There is greater emphasis on the overall meal experience. This encompasses the entire process of planning, purchasing, preparing, serving, and cleaning up after a meal and considers not only the flavor of the food but also the aroma, setting, social environment, and sequence of events.
  • Innovation. In an effort to provide new products and services, the industry is moving toward an open innovation model that leverages cooperation among companies and institutions at all points along the value chain.


In assessing the three scenarios, Norwegian food industry representatives agreed that the future of the food industry will likely include elements of all three.

  • Food and health, climate change, and adequate food production are the three biggest issues facing the food industry.
  • Prices for raw materials will rise. Meat and dairy consumption will fall in World 1. Seafood, chicken, and high-protein plant materials will be alternate protein sources.
  • Agricultural raw materials will be used more efficiently and waste will be reduced.
  1. All three scenarios emphasize that consumers will become substantially better informed about some elements of food production and food choices. Note that this forecast is not incompatible with the observation that consumers are becoming less knowledgeable about food preparation. Food producers and purveyors will need to play a role in educating consumers. They should also prepare for consumers who may know a lot about food and health, or food and the environment, but little about cooking.
  2. In all three scenarios, consumer-facing IT, including IT-enabled packaging, plays a primary role in keeping consumers informed. Packaging developers and food processors should begin now to create and deploy the required technology.
  3. The call for an open innovation model and closer ties to other organizations is not new. However, these scenarios and the driving forces used to develop them suggest that some specific relationships might prove especially fruitful — for example, cooperation between the food industry and the IT industry, fitness centers, health insurers, transport companies, and recyclers.