In the short term, social and technological changes are transforming our relationship with food. Technological innovations such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are creating novel products while fueling new anxieties and ethical quandaries. Consumers are gaining an understanding of the links between childhood obesity and food policy, bringing conversations about food into the political mainstream.

As food imagery proliferates on social media, more consumers are “eating with their eyes” than ever before, and raising their expectations to match. Food events such as MAD in Copenhagen, Bitten in New York, and SouthBites at South by Southwest in Austin have emerged not just as industry forums, but also as venues for a broader cultural conversation.

Going forward, brands will have to carefully balance consumers’ desire for novelty with a commitment to ethics, transparency and health. With all this in mind, we take a qualitative look at the broad shifts currently shaping our perceptions of food and drink—and emerging trends to watch across these categories.