Food innovation in the age of disruption develops your ability to innovate by generating more ideas and putting them into action.
When you know how to develop a single, end-to-end framework for testing innovative ideas, and understand how an organisation that is defined by and developed around innovative execution, can adapt itself to foster and drive consumer-centric innovation, then you will be able to confidently move forward in your projects and create truly in-demand, innovative food and beverage products and services.
How does innovation fit into our current situation?
While top health care professionals and other experts are focusing on the issue of the current pandemic and managing our lockdown restrictions globally, it is important that we try to move forward with our own projects within the food and beverage industry in order to maintain some level of certainty as we try to predict the best way of dealing with the challenges we face.
This is where I believe that iNewtrition comes in. I am constantly asking myself how I can support innovation in functional foods and beverages, health and wellness during this time and beyond.
Let’s first look at how innovation works for societies and companies and why it’s important now more than ever in the recovery against Covid.
The pandemic as a global public health issue has had a major impact on consumer lifestyles in terms of aspects such as purchase, preparation, and consumption, in particular, all of which have changed drastically in 2020.
Professionals and organisations have had to innovate in order to stay relevant and survive through the crisis as ways of working and consuming have changed. Culture and strategy are being refined to align with new regulatory requirements on one side and consumer expectations on the other. Thinking about solutions in a creative and innovative way is one of the pathways to success, especially in our food industry today.
Within the hospitality and foodservice arenas – some of the most badly affected sectors in our industry – there are certain areas where innovation through food tech could help greatly in the Covid recovery process. Some examples include:
- MEAL KITS – Companies regularly delivering the precise ingredients needed to make meals straight to consumer homes.
- MARKETPLACES – Companies developing food e-commerce platforms, including farm-to-home solutions using innovative solutions to reach customers in a new way.
- Delivery services where the customer receives a DISCOVERY BOX selected by experts in that category each month. New flavours, teas, coffees, and exotic new products from around the world are among the some of the themes that could be looked at.
- RESTAURANT DELIVERY where companies can enable their customers to receive prepared meals from nearby restaurants, mostly through independent drivers.
- VIRTUAL RESTAURANTS and operating kitchens (using their own or rented cloud kitchens) that brands use to develop their own set of products.
- DELIVERY ROBOTS where companies carry out food delivery services via drones or robots, for example in hotels or restaurants.
What I think is really emerging is the mind-body connection where consumer-centric innovation is concerned is the shared value created that can make a real difference for both companies and consumers.
While we are in a period of great difficulty, there are also many areas of opportunity. I foresee new product categories and formats/sizes, health benefits in senior nutrition, new categories for multifunctional and nutritional professionals, and more foods and beverages for e-sport athletes.
Enhancing and supporting our immune-systems has moved to the forefront of functional food and beverage products in recent months. Immunity is a very complex biological phenomenon and there are other adjacent health benefits to take into consideration such as gut health which brands have to consider when developing new products with these types of claims.
How can your business leverage these innovations to create successful products and services?
One immediate solution is through virtual innovation workshops that can support your current innovation or renovation activities and projects across any sector or category within the functional food and beverage, and health & wellness industries
Remote innovation workshops are perfect for food entrepreneurs and producers who are looking to expand their knowledge of food innovation with a new product development focus under any or all of the segments below.
What will you learn from a virtual innovation workshop?
One of the disciplines that I like to use when working with clients is design thinking. Incorporating design thinking and creative strategies in your business will take you through a hands-on learning journey that will help you develop the creative-thinking skills needed to innovate in any organisational context.
Design thinking involves five stages from empathising, definition, ideation, prototype and testing. In the initial stages, we can develop innovation hypotheses and strategies, and use them to build strong prototypes and value propositions in the later stages. The spider web graph below illustrates some of the factors that we can work through when thinking about your product (range).
Using this process, we will look at how lean your innovation strategy is under four main pillars: positioning, process, product architecture, and portfolio. Once we have identified these, we can look to ensure consumer-centricity in your product design by finding the sweet spots along the process.
Some questions to consider are: are your team focusing on the right projects in line with your strategy? What will the new normal look like for you and your team and what adjustments need to be made? Are you looking beyond the obvious opportunities? What trade-offs can you make in order to create even more growth and success through the innovation window?
Each workshop can be tailored to the specific needs of you and your team and we can work together on some or all of the following points:
- Understanding the various elements of a food innovation process, the different stages involved and how you can apply it to your current projects.
- Work with you through sanity checks and due diligence.
- Helping you to create a concept and prototype.
- Moving through each stage from idea generation to product launch and beyond while focusing on the areas that your business needs the most guidance with.
- Examination of the ingredients you want to use and their benefits so as to create true innovation from the very beginning.
- Overview of your regulatory and compliance responsibilities where relevant.
- Analysis of packaging and the road to creating SRP (Shelf-Ready Packaging) to increase your route-to-market opportunities.
- Evaluation of any nutritional and health claims you may be in a position to use.
Innovation workshops, if organised and planned correctly, can be a strong tool in your innovation strategy and can help you spot new areas for growth in your business and/or portfolio that you may not have considered before.
Through these efforts, we can establish new levels of collaboration, scale, speed of deployment and set a new standard to profoundly change the trajectory of health and wellness in the future.
iNewtrition is a food innovation management advisory firm with fully distributed experts to support top professionals in the food and beverage industry in the acceleration of their businesses through food innovation practices. If you are interested in running a food innovation workshop with your team, please send an email to me (Raphaelle) at [email protected] to discuss your objectives and create a plan of action to help you reach them.