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“Faster, cheaper, more” was yesterday – we are becoming more and more conscious of the idea of food quality. And at the same time this is raising our expectations of the food we eat every day. Every meal needs to taste just like grandma’s Sunday roast. We don’t want to consume food anymore, we want it to be an experience. This is one reason why photos with the hashtag “food” (about 250 million posts) are shared more often on Instagram than “#travel”, which at the time of writing was “only” posted 236 million times. Nowadays, many food manufacturers have show kitchens where we can watch the production process, and there are a huge selection of cookery courses on offer.

We want to know what’s on our plate and where it comes from.

Internationally renowned food trend expert Hanni Rützler looks at precisely this idea in her Food Report 2018, in which she coins a term for this change of attitude towards food: deprocessing. It is all about food that is natural, made with high-quality ingredients, minimal processing, few or no additives, and innovative preservation techniques, and is also sourced transparently – all of which enhance food quality and meet the needs of modern-day customers. You could call it the authentic approach to food production, or “organic 2.0”. In Austria, brands such as Ja! Natürlich and Da komm’ ich her are driving the shift towards deprocessing. Several Ja! Natürlich products, such as its apple puree, are completely free of artificial preservatives, while Da komm’ ich her offers fresh, local produce under its Frisches aus der Region (“Fresh, regional produce”) promise.

Good Food, all-round benefits

Austrians are very open to the idea of buying natural, healthy products – be it vegetables, meat or bread. More than a fifth of the country’s agricultural land is organically farmed, making Austria one of the leaders in the EU. Austria’s organic producers generate 70% of their revenue from food retailers, while 70% of the country’s population buy organic goods at least occasionally.

 

They still prefer to buy such products from conventional retailers: a study carried out in 2017 by the Gallup Institute revealed that 80% of shoppers buy organic produce in conventional supermarkets and 61% from discounters. This means supermarkets have a responsibility to actually offer organic products and food, which in turn presents an opportunity for retailers to further heighten awareness of organic food. Increased demand for natural goods is also leading to reduced acceptance of industrially manufactured products, which could have a positive impact on our health.

The perfect packaged

Deprocessing means doing away with certain ingredients as well as artificial preservatives, but products are still expected to have a certain shelf life, so new ideas are required in this regard. Research on and testing of innovative production processes that preserve food using ultraviolet light or plant extracts has been under way for some time. Special packaging technologies are also helping to preserve food: for instance, if ham is shrink-wrapped using a high-pressure press, this kills practically all bacteria and germs – as well as preserving the ham naturally.

 

To come back to the example of Da komm’ ich her once more: if we are talking about organic farming, regional and seasonal products, and deprocessing, then the question of preservatives does not usually come up in the first place. By buying tomatoes where they are grown, and which were picked at exactly the right time, preserving isn’t even necessary.

It’s as easy – and as natural – as that.

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