CHICAGO — It’s hard to predict the future these days.  In light of current events and those that have taken place over the past 24 months, it’s true that change is the only constant.

But at the American Society of Baking (ASB)’s BakingTECH conference, held March 1-3 in Chicago, food futurologist Dr. Morgaine Gaye outlined how her expertise in trend watching can provide a glimpse into the future.

Baking is a scientific, repeatable process, but food doesn’t exist in a vacuum. That’s why Gaye looks at everything from fashion to interior design to social and cultural norms when she formulates predictions.

“We need to be thinking about all the undercurrents and what’s actually going on — and what will happen in the future,” she said. “Everything we do, what we believe, the way we’ve been socialized and the cultures we’ve grown up in, it all matters. It makes a difference in what we like to eat, what we think about food and, at the end of the day, what we decide to buy.”

One key word Gaye used to describe present trends was “belonging.” It has many connotations, including the longing for a sense of community and connection or thinking about belongings as possessions. It’s all relevant, and it comes down to a collective reassessment of what it means to be human.

Even if society enters a stage that can truly be called “post-pandemic,” the world won’t go back to the way it was; priorities and the way we see ourselves — and one another — are changing and will continue to change. Society is still in a sort of destabilization stage, with a time of reflection just beginning. And Gaye said that will continue through 2025.

“We can’t continue with ‘business as usual’ because that’s not working,” Gaye said. “Things have to be different, though we don’t know what ‘different’ looks like.”


“Things that people are going to buy, they’ll want it to have solid value. There’s less, but it’s better. It’s well-made. It’s not ‘more for your money.’ It’s value.”—Dr. Morgaine Gaye | Food Futurologist | Bellwether Food Trends


People are reevaluating what it means to be human, and that’s painfully apparent in the Great Resignation as people are choosing time over jobs, especially ones that don’t bring them joy. And in thinking about that term “belonging,” they’re also opting for fewer possessions. Both of these reevaluation factors impact baking companies as employers and purveyors of baked goods.

“Things that people are going to buy, they’ll want it to have solid value,” Gaye cautioned. “There’s less, but it’s better. It’s well-made. It’s not ‘more for your money.’ It’s value.”

Products that are crafted, hand-made or limited edition will be top of mind for consumers.

Gay predicted this to have an impact on packaging, where the packing material is part of the product itself, like a bag made from corn with popcorn inside.

This also plays right into sustainability needs as waste reduction becomes the next phase.

“The second revenue stream for all businesses will be what they actually get rid of in the process of their manufacturing,” Gaye said. “That’s where the money is.”

As automation steps in as a viable resource for reduced headcounts, Gaye warned attendees to remain cognizant of that humanity. Even in a highly automated world, people are fatigued from the isolation and crave positive, personal interaction. As more companies recognize the “whole person” in the workforce, it has to be considered in a 360-degree context.

“We are not separated from the business where we work and that we manage,” she said.

Because of this, the most important concept is kindness.

“I know many companies think it’s about shareholder profits, but consumers aren’t going to buy things unless they feel that the brand is doing something good. Kindness is the value system we have to display in every possible way. We have to show that we’re doing good for people when they eat our products, good for the planet when we manufacture and good for the people who work for us. It matters. People matter now more than ever before.”