I've absolutely no doubt that the article I wrote a couple of years ago about Matcha helped the legal green cocaine take off here in the capital.
The main supplier into the country has told me as much, and while you only used to be able to get a cup in just a few shops around town, you can now find Matcha in such places as Insomnia and every small town in Ireland. The truth is it would have always come here, but like all trends it needed a little kick start.
Another example of a food trend to hit our country is the humble burrito. A tourist could be forgiven for thinking it is the natural food of Ireland at this stage, given its popularity. Just like craft beer you could see this trend coming by looking West, because you need look no further than San Francisco or New York to understand what we'll be eating and drinking two years down the line.
Even our current penchant for gourmet burgers comes from these places and we import trend after trend from the two cities. The trends always manage to hit London 12 months before us though, which is strange given our closer proximity to America, but such is life on our small island.
So What Are We Getting Next?
I didn't start the article saying, "I called Matcha in Ireland" just to prove myself right and sound like a pompous dick. I'd seen it in San Francisco and noticed all the young trend setters going mad for it. It was only a matter of time before it came here and I was only too happy to take the glory.
The same happened as burritos, craft beer, coffee culture and indeed the very notion of hipsterism swept across the Atlantic. So now all you need to do in order to appear ahead of the game is to look across the pond and observe that all the young, hip minds are getting excited about something else, and that something is called Soylent. So what the fuck is it? Well...
- Healthy: Soylent’s nutritional makeup includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium. It includes all of the elements of a healthy diet, without excess amounts of sugars, saturated fats, or cholesterol.
- Easy: Soylent is a convenient powder that is mixed with water.
- Cheap: Healthy food can be expensive and takes time to prepare. At around $3/meal, Soylent is affordable.
Why The Fuck Do We Want Soylent?
By all accounts it tastes absolutely disgusting, which is never a great start, but the idea is getting some serious traction and has been embraced by thousands of the most influential people.
It started as a personal project but they quickly raised a remarkable $3 million on a crowdfunding campaign. They then very quickly raised $20 million from Andreessen Horowitz, and that's where things got interesting for me.
See, I love food but I also love technology. Everything that we use today, from Instagram to Twitter, our Apple phones right through to Facebook and Google, was created in Silicon Valley. They are now trying to do the very same thing, but to do it with food rather than software (although I'm sure there is plenty of software used in creating the product).
This is clearly a huge global product they are trying to create and they are doing so by focusing on the following problems....
- The planet is getting very crowded and we're running out of places to grow food.
- Food is getting increasingly expensive.
- Companies are getting us all addicted to fat and sugar.
- There is a huge movement among menials towards healthy eating.
So what we have is a VC backed food solution that solves lots of problems with a huge addressable market (basically the entire planet). This could be really, really big.
Will Soylent Work?
I remember being at a conference in the early days when it wasn't more than an idea with a bit of funding. I scoffed and laughed my ass off at the idea as a proper foodie. I'm not so sure now. It might taste like shit compared to fillet steak and tuna but those are precious commodoties that we are fast running out of. We can't have enough beef to go around when we have 10 billion people on the planet.
I'd still be a little doubtful about this product (imagine what the French and Italians would make of it), but I've seen crazier things come out of Silicon Valley and work globally.
You can't even get any in Ireland, because the stuff is selling so fast in America and Canada. Go to SF and the stuff is like some sort of cult with people embracing it in the same way they did weed in the '60s and '70s, and as I stated earlier that's where our trends are coming from, be they Mexican food or €4 toast.
It's going to be interesting to see where this one goes. It won't happen overnight, but my guess is we'll all be on this stuff before long!