Yiran Wei



How to design for food retailer evolving future food consumption?

Speculative Design, Create for future, Food Retailer, Design Strategy

Design Researcher, Design Strategist

2021, September-November

Team members:
Roderick van Oostrom, Roel van de Veerdonk, Yi Zhang

Wouter Eggink, Albert de la Bruheze

This is a project about creating future.  We researched and analysed the current situations on food consumption, and acted as Albert Heijn to offer a possiblity on food retail in the future. Underlying research and analysis, 3 future scenarios were generated. Then we provided a future development for Albert Heijn to handle the change in the future. Which is to evolve into a smart kitchen operating system, named AHtOS, integrating the food production, supermarket, delivery, cooking and waste management all in one.

Step 1 Focus and Focal issue


Food consumption in NL urban areas


Food retail


Albert Heijn

︎ Actor-subject relation:

  • Supermarket where the consumers buys their food before preparing it at home
  • Delivery service that delivers groceries AND cooked meals
  • Smart/shared kitchen products integration with groceries
  • The challenge of providing ready made (kant-en-klaar) that are still fresh.

︎ Question:

How can Albert Heijn expand its service to encompass the full food consumption experience, for both at-home preparation and take-out food, and cater towards future eating habits?


Step 2 Actors and Factors

Firstly factors was defined based on the current food system and the researches we found, then the actors were extracted and grouped related to the factors covering legislation, logistics, production, suppliers, consumers, research and waste management. With a general overview of the order in which each group will influence the next with, concerning the lifecycle of food related products. The actor network linked to the domestic life to show the relation between the actors. 

Actors Network︎︎︎

︎ Shoppers

As they are the direct customer of Albert heijn, the shoppers represent the behavior of their customers. The actor networks will differ in each future scenario. Therefore, the actor maps will be revised in the development of the scenarios. This therefore be done with a focus on the shoppers as the main actor.

Step 3 U/I Matrix

The ranking of the factors in the U/I matrix  is based both on research done as well as personal opinions and views. Some factors had a clear explanation on how important and likely they are to happen, mostly being concluded in the Delphi study on food from the EU (European Commission, 2017). 


01. Scenario issues

Ranking of agriculture/food related factors largely based on Delphi study; Urban farming, In-vitro meat, Waste management

02.There is no alternative

Trends that have been going on for the long term or already used; Hydro/aqua/aeroponics, Internet, Climate change

03. Secondary issues

Either not related to food directly or too little to ever have a large impact; Use of renewables, Insect based food
U/I Matrix

Step 4 Strategic space

Based on the U/I matrix and the defined clusters, the driving force for future food on the horizontal axis are efficiency and convenience. They are mostly related to lifestyle development - how, when, where, what and why people eat in the future, which fits that lifestyle development with high importance and uncertainty was placed on the most top- right of U/I Matrix. Besides, based on the food target group, from marco to micro level, individual-oriented and mass-oriented are the index of vertical axis.

Strategic Space
  • Efficiency will determine people’s attitude for diets; will they eat on-the-go, or eat at work?

  • Convenience will influence the purchasing and ordering habits; will people care for the eating and cooking experience?
  • Will people prefer to eat or buy food outside, or cook by themselves at home?

  • Personal customization will determine every individual’s habits, products and diet.
  • Manufacturers will cater towards personalized products.

  • Catering to the needs of general public. Usually led by the government, institutions or larger companies.

Step 5 Scenario Plots

︎Scenario 1:  Tailored Appetite

  • Full personalization of meals to the needed nutrients of the individual.
  • We work less but more intensive hours
  • Daily habits and eating times are determined by working times

Read more about stories︎︎︎

︎Scenario 2:  Social Dining

  • Personal life, family and friends are important; eating together at home or in restaurants is a regularity.
  • People will have more recreation time, because technology supports more, and kitchen stuff will be smarter but empowering as well.

Read more about stories︎︎︎

︎Scenario 3:  Mass Menu

  • Convenient and warm food on-the-go, containing all the nutrients people need for working one day.
  • Everyone‘s diet is similar, which can be mass produced and sold in several places. but still there are options for people to choose; perceived personalisation

Read more about stories︎︎︎


Step 6 Sociotechnical system

We used socio-technical scenarios to recognizes dynamics of transitions. Multi-level perspective including Socio-Technical Landscape(Macro-level), Technological Niches(Micro Level), Socio-Technical Regime (Meso/Middle level).

T: technology, N/A: networks & actors, I/R: rules and regulations, LF = Landscape factor

Step 7 Design Process

This name refers to Athos, the giant in greek mythology.
It represents the combination of AH &  OS,
Albert Heijn Operating System

Concepts Visualisation

Kitchen Scene︎︎︎



Scene 1  Cooking︎︎︎

On a weekend evening, Sanne and Rick’s family are preparing dinner for today. According to the menu recommended on the screen of the refrigerator, their dinner today is vegetable soup and roast chicken. Sanne is cooking vegetable soup, and their daughter, South, is following the instructions on the screen, helping to blend the ingredients in the spice mixer and prepare them for the soup. At the same time, Rick and their son Dong prepare the ingredients for the roast chicken. Rick takes the chicken out of the refrigerator. And Dong follows the recipe and takes the vegetables they need from the plant wall next to the refrigerator.

Scene 2  Online ordering and delivery︎︎︎

One morning, Rick comes to the kitchen after his morning exercise and wants to drink some milk. From the screen of the refrigerator, he finds that the milk was almost finished. There are also several other foods that are running out. So he places an order directly on the screen of the refrigerator. That afternoon, AH's drone delivers fresh food he ordered to their kitchen window.

Scene 3  Eating Together︎︎︎

Sanne and Rick's family will have dinner together. When having dinner, they often open the table projection, which will show the grandparents who live far away like a video call. They chat and eat together. Sometimes they will also project other neighbours of their apartment and eat with them.

Sanne and Rick's family also invite their friends to their home. At this time, they will extend the table to leave enough space for more people to eat together. They usually chat for a long time while eating, so the table will turn on the automatic heating function to keep the food at the right temperature for eating.