The Future of the Burger. A Foresight Study of Future Meat Consumption and Production Patterns using Scenario Analysis

Term Paper, 2017

18 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of contents

Tables and figures

1 Introduction

2 Methodology
2.1 Explorative Scenario Building Approach
2.2 Limitations of this exercise

3 Input and Analysis
3.1 Overview of the outcomes of the environmental scanning
3.2 Trend identification
3.3 Cross impact matrix

4 Interpretation and Prospection
4.1 Drivers of change analysis
4.2 Scenario building

5 Discussion and Conclusion
5.1 Discussion of the scenarios derived
5.1.1 Agricultural Alienation
5.1.2 Elite Eatery
5.1.3 Growing Business
5.1.4 Wholesome Wonderworld
5.2 Strategic societal recommendations
5.3 Outlook and further implications

6. References

Tables and figures

Table 1: Cross Impact Matrix Meat Production (Source: Own Depiction)

Table 2: Cross Impact Matrix Consumption (Source: Own Depiction)

Figure 1: Generic Foresight Framework, Guiding Questions And Tools Used In This Exercise (Source: Own Depiction After Voros, 2003, P. 9)

Figure 2: STEEPV Analysis Of The Key Drivers Of Change (Source: Own Depiction)

Figure 3: Scenarios Of Future Meat Production And Consumption Patterns (Source: Own Depiction)

1 Introduction

Present meat consumption patterns indicate that meat consumption is on the rise (Benton, 2016). The implications this carries with it are mainly a huge stressor on the environment as its production is the problem rather than its consumption (ibid.). The cultivation of cattle in particular, account to around one third of greenhouse gas responsible for climate change worldwide (, 2017). As meat production is rising, this indicates meat consumption is raising as well (Benton, 2016). However there are two main problems in meat production, the environmental impact (, 2017) and the natural scarcity of enough meat for the whole world population (ibid.).

In contrast to the raising production, meat consumption especially in the western world is becoming more considerate. It is becoming more and more a feast and a source of enjoyment, also something that is deliberately done with friends or has undergone an eventation. However there is another trend that more and more people’ s nutritional fall back option is a quick mostly meaty snack, e.g. sausages or fish for just small amounts of money. This dilemma of production problems and changing consumption is by the mind of the authors best expressed in the metaphor of a burger, which summarizes the production, i.e. cattle and beef farming, and the underlying consumption patterns, e.g. during a night out, barbequing with friends or as a quick and unhealthy snack, best in its appearance.

This study uses the burger therefore as a metaphor for the investigation of societal consumption patterns and production of meat in the future to finally draw conclusions and recommendations for a more considerate production and consumption.

2 Methodology

In this section the strategy taken and the tools used for this foresight exercise and its limitations will be discussed. The strategy approach chosen has a few determining factors that will shape the nature of this explorative scenario building exercise. This foresight exercise will focus on the change of meat production in special regard on its influence on consumption patterns. It will therefore explore future meat consumption patterns.

2.1 Explorative Scenario Building Approach

Since the trend and problems in consumption and production patterns are mainly shaped by the so called western world’s approaches to these topics as they are the forefront regarding innovative techniques of agriculture and food consumption, this exercise is based on a global level, specially focused on developed countries, i.e. the western world.

As there is already a great deal of information on both future consumption and production patterns, the main goal of this exercise is to derive scenarios out of the data and insights given and finally give societal recommendations to steer the future meat production and consumption. This foresight exercise will therefore be approached with an exploratory, expert and evidence driven, semi-quantitative approach. This exercise’s final recommendations will be based on explorative scenarios looking into ten to fifteen years from the present year. For the purpose of the timely limitations of this academic assignment, the exercise is tailored to be feasible within one month.

The process of this exercise is shown in comparison to Voros generic foresight framework (2003, see figure 1). This exercise will be conducted by gathering information through environmental scanning, i.e. the collection of existing data and expert opinions, which will be transformed into occurring trends in the next step (analysis). These trends will be used in a cross impact matrix, which will reveal the most important drivers of change. In the interpretation part of this foresight exercise those drivers of change will be investigated via a STEEPV-framework to determine the extent and outcome of influences on them.

This will subsequently generate a clearer picture and better understanding of those drivers. Finally these drivers of change and their likely transformations will be used to form 4 scenarios in the prospections part of this exercise. The most favorable scenario might be used to derive societal recommendations to foster its development.

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Figure 1: Generic foresight framework, guiding questions and tools used in this exercise (Source: own depiction after Voros, 2003, p. 9).

2.2 Limitations of this exercise

Through critical reflection on the approach presented, some limitations arose. These limitations are:

- a high possibility of subjectivity during each step of the exercise (especially in the beginning),
- not enough time for extensive research,
- not enough resources (money, rights, connections etc.) to gather all the information required,
- flaws in conducting the methods (e.g. not enough expertise or flawed starting material),
- loosing direction in complexity of the topic during research,
- Failure of boiling down outcomes of actual scenarios into societal and personal action steps.

A fair amount of these limitations are caused in the short time span of this exercise, however the authors take those in consideration and plan on minimizing their thread of occurrence by extensive discussion on the topic and methods used and extensive research to the best of the authors knowledge without any intentional gaps.

3 Input and Analysis

This part of this exercise shall give a broad overview of the data and expert opinions on future meat production and consumption available. By the scanning of these data bits, trend will emerge that are briefly described in 3.2. These trends will be matched in a cross impact matrix to finally identify drivers of change.

3.1 Overview of the outcomes of the environmental scanning

Meat consumption is moving towards becoming as locally based and natural as possible as people are becoming more aware of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and processed foods (Benton, 2016). In addition, the middle class population is predicted to increase by the factor four in just a couple of years; as such, more people will be able to afford buying meat in higher quantities (Benton, 2016; Walsh, 2013). Consumption will not increase only because of this but also due to an increasing population in general, which seeks to meet their basic needs (, 2017). Meat however in that regard is mainly consumed as a source of protein mainly, among others of course, in the form of burgers and steaks (ibid.)

These consumption patterns put stress on production as the earth is already being used at its full potential for these resources, leading science and technology to focus on alternative solutions of this global issue (, 2017). To the present date, science and technology have brought about the lab grown burger made from stem cells, putting it through a process which produces meat safe for human consumption (Barkhausen and Kovacs, 2016). The first lab grown burger was made in 2013 and it is already ready to be put on the market on a large scale. However it is predicted that only the elite will have the luxury of such a product (ibid.).

The trend of an emerging global population trend leaning towards natural and organic food might lead to a general rejection of the lab grown burger by the masses, making it hard to commercialize this product or making it a profitable investment. Trying to do so wouldn’t allow it to be affordable to everyone. This puts production still with a huge issue to be solved (Floros et al., 2010; Barkhausen and Kovacs, 2016).

Further upcoming trends in burger production are the use of non-meat products, i.e. alternative protein resources such as insects (Greenwood, 2016) or vegetarian burgers (, 2017). Another emerging trend is the shift of burger to a premium product, e.g. prepared by master chefs (Ulla, 2011) or at least in specialized burger restaurants (Sedghi, 2015). Apparently this is not the case for huge food chains as McDonald’s which had a hard time with a premium burger (Peterson, 2015) however also profits from the trend of customization (Johnson, 2016).

Looking into a metastudy of the food production and consumption industry (Reddy, 2013) it is evident that production is shifting towards a more personal relation between customer and product and a holistic use of edibles. Regarding consumption patterns it can be stated, that consumption gains more importance as new styles and experiences are introduced, the involvement of the consumer is fostered and even the purchase patterns are shifting to a more wholesome experience while convenience is still demanded.

An analysis of influential researchers’ and business owner’s opinions on the future of food and its consumptions draws a bright picture of different approaches and ideas (Begley, 2014). However they all share the basic notion that the way food is produced will drastically change and therefore consumption patterns will have to shift accordingly rather to a more exclusive ways (such as high class cooking, a better health focus or more local connection) or just less emphasis (pill nutrition, convenient lab food, or solely plant based nutrition). For the production these opinion leaders also rely on heavy changes such as a more efficient use of existing farmland, a transformation of the city architecture and landscapes and a much more animal friendlier meat production.

3.2 Trend identification

Regarding the outcome of the environmental scanning and especially the scenarios presented by the World Economic Forum (2017) there are several trends emerging on regarding the production and the consumption of meat. The main trends in the production of meat are the following:

- There is a struggle to meet with demand as earth is almost at its peak production capacity
- There are few alternative ways of meat production and agriculture
- The personal relationship of farmers and consumers is growing, the local production is being enforced
- AI and future tech are finding their ways to agriculture

The main trends on the consumption of meat are the following:

- The majority of consumer is mostly reluctant to imposed changes of their eating habits thus changing them slowly
- Commercialized processed meats are on the decrease as there is a growing focus on health; there is an emerging organic natural food culture
- There is a growing importance of the eating and food experience
- The combination of convenience and health is king in the everyday life

3.3 Cross impact matrix

The trends identified above are now going to be challenged against each other by using a cross impact matrix. This shall underline to what extend the variables, i.e. trends identified influence each other, finally revealing the most important trend of each section. Therefore each section, i.e. consumption and production will have its own cross impact matrix. The outcomes are going to be used further in the rest of this study.

The impact is shown in the respective cell of crossing by indicating the relationship with a + + or + for a strong or regular positive impact, a 0 for a neutral and – or - - for negative or strong negative impacts. The column in this case is the affecting variables and the row shows the affected variables.

As the analysis in table 1 shows, the interconnections are overall pretty strong. It is noteworthy that the variable “struggle to meet demand” is the only one that is negatively formulated and has as such to be read as if something affects it positively it means the item will be reduced, e.g. alternative ways are reducing the struggle to meet the demand. However the most influential variable turned out to be the integration of new tech and AI into agriculture, meaning the use of robotics in agriculture but also the technologies they allow the fostering of urban gardening and vertical farming (Begley, 2014).

Table 1: Cross impact matrix meat production (Source: Own depiction).

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As the analysis in table 2 shows, the interconnections are very strong and mostly positively related. Again note that the variable “slow changing habits” is negatively formulated. The best most influential variable in this analysis turns out to be the growing “convenience and health” demand which is basically a general shift towards easy to consume and buy food that is providing health benefits. Also sub-trends like the nose-to-tail food, the engineered edibles and the farm fresh 2.0 are covered in this regard (Reddy, 2013).

Table 2: Cross impact matrix consumption (Source: Own depiction).

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4 Interpretation and Prospection


Excerpt out of 18 pages


The Future of the Burger. A Foresight Study of Future Meat Consumption and Production Patterns using Scenario Analysis
University of Malta  (Edward de Bono Institute)
Foresight Techniques for Creativity and Innovation
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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1688 KB
scenario technique, agriculture, burger, future studies, food consumption, food production, scenarios, analysis, steepv
Quote paper
Felix Zappe (Author)Katrina Scicluna (Author), 2017, The Future of the Burger. A Foresight Study of Future Meat Consumption and Production Patterns using Scenario Analysis, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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