What Will the Supermarket of the Future Look Like?

Consumers are asking for food that is optimally tailored to their needs. According to nutritional scientist Hannelore Daniel this will bring lasting changes to supermarkets.

Prof. Dr. Daniel at the Dusseldorf Wednesday Social November 2017

Mrs Daniel, you maintain that the food systems will increasingly come under pressure due to various factors such as climate change, growing population and increasing urbanisation. What will we have to reckon with?

The availability of food and, thus, of what will ultimately end up on our table will change. Eating good food as we do today will, at any rate, become more expensive.

What will this mean over a period of five and 15 years?

No major changes will occur over the next five years. But food will become scarcer in the coming 15 years, leading to higher prices. This notwithstanding, everyone in Germany will continue to be able to afford such an accommodative and frequently also decadent diet. But in Africa and also in some Asian countries with an enormous population growth we will probably witness more frequent unrest. Past experiences have shown that rising food prices also increase the probability of political tensions of all kinds.

You are predicting new food production systems. Which trends are emerging?

The biggest trend is the revolution we see in the world of animal-based foods with a multitude of substitute products. What we currently find in supermarkets is in many cases not yet adequate in terms of taste as well as smell and structure. Especially in the US, but increasingly also in Europe, we find many start-ups operating in this market segment who are endowed with large amounts of venture capital. The products which are currently being developed will lead to a sensory quantum leap.


The future is all about personalised nutrition and, consequently, also about a personalised supermarket. This goes all the way to 3D printed menus.

Prof. Dr. Hannelore Daniel

What will the supermarket of the future look like?

If I knew that I would have started my own business long ago. Going forward, we will increasingly be asking for food production criteria such as sustainability, regional origin, but also for products that are free from gluten, lactose and also fructose. But also health risks such as cardiovascular diseases or hypertension could increase demand for special foods. The future is all about personalised nutrition and, consequently, also about a personalised supermarket. This goes all the way to 3D printed menus. In my opinion, the most promising approach will likely be in the field of e-commerce.


How will that affect store-based retail?

The supermarket will probably develop in the direction of a gourmet and entertainment temple - after all, you will need a place for trying out a new product at some point, possibly free of charge, and later order it online. The supermarket turns into an entertainment venue.

Prof. Daniel at the Dusseldorf Wednesday Social November 2017

Prof. Daniel is a German nutritionist.

Why is Germany lagging behind in terms of e-commerce?

In Germany, we entertain a romantic and idealised image of food, of how it is produced, and of the shopping experience. Basically, we are still going with our wicker basket to the weekly farmers' market - we just call it a supermarket. In many other countries this somewhat distorted perception of the food industry does not exist.

What do these challenges mean for companies such as Metro?

Business plans are no longer per se valid for decades. Many retail companies are in fact already opening up to new concepts like, for example, the food temple where fresh bread is being baked while Italian delicatessen are served at the next counter. One major challenge will be to make life easier for consumers in a world that will be consistently more demanding and lend them a helping hand in their buying decisions. In my opinion, the true stress in daily life does not come from work, but from taking decisions. You just don’t have the time for doing the research it takes to make the right decision and find the right product among thousands of options. I am happy about any decision that I don’t have to take myself. The key aspect will be how credibly companies will be able to communicate that their real concern is the health of their customers and the welfare of the world and the environment.

4th Düsseldorf Wednesday Social

The nutritionist Prof. Dr. Hannelore Daniel was a guest at the
4th Düsseldorf Wednesday Social on November 8, 2017.
There she gave the lecture: "The Global Challenges faced by the Food System"

About Hannelore Daniel

Prof. Dr. Hannelore Daniel from the University of Munich

Professor Daniel (born in1954) researches the basic principles of nutrient transport in mammals at the genetic, structural and functional levels. Her particular focus is on the tremendous differences in peoples’ metabolisms and these studies also form the basis of concepts for personalised nutrition.


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