Archive for the 'Food innovation' Category

The future of food – will there be enough for everyone?

July 29th, 2008 | Category: Change,Food innovation,The future,Trends

I’ve just read the latest insight briefing from Innovaro¬†which outlines future innovation opportunities in food and drink. The paper suggests that

the food industry today is facing a similar  Ľtipping point ľ to that which became apparent to many in the energy sector around 5 years ago. Just as the energy sector is facing growing demand, rising prices, climate change and security of supply by shifting its view, so too can the food industry.

Within the food industry and food markets, there are a number of macro drivers of change that are increasingly being recognised as either essential or highly probable developments. Two main driver are:

  • the iminent large scale adoption of GM food, driven by the pressing need to get more yield per unit area of farm land and the impact of the food vs. fuel balance. According to the report, Organic food will be seen as no more than a worthy blip¬†away from¬†the path to increased food yield
  • the rapid and, given current production techniques, unsustainable rise in global meat consumption due to the growing middle classes¬†of India and China moving up the protein ladder. This trend my well need to be answered by the emergence of alternative protein production methods, such as large scale laboratory cultures.

The article goes on to outline three main catalysts for future innovation:

  • ¬†Water Scarcity – according to the paper:

the increasing lack of fresh water for the growing global population will result in more water wars, rising prices and, as a regulatory response, the requirement to declare embedded water. Today, not many people are yet aware that it takes 400,000 litres of water to make a car and 140 litres to make a single Starbucks cappuccino.

  • Efficient Product – this seems to be all about eliminating waste, where the paper says the food industry has some way to go:

As other sectors aim for 100% recycling of product and packaging, the way we manage food and drink supply chains needs to fundamentally change and become more efficient in terms of waste. Innovation in this area in other sectors is already showing tangible results and fuelled by increasing attention to the topic, consumers will expect similar standards of efficiency across sectors.

  • Localised Processing – I’ve talked about his trend in previous posts about future consumers and emerging trends in food production to reduce environmental impact and increase trust in the source of the food. The paper says:

The real changes are coming in the area of food processing which is being driven by a combination of both top down eco-footprint regulation and bottom up community interest. Whether this is for ready meal preparation or more simple produce conversion, shifting the final finishing of more foods from a centralised production model to a smaller, decentralised approach will demand coherent effort across the agriculture sector, food and ingredient manufacturers, retailers and regulators.

The above trends present a mix of threat and opportunity and it’s clear that the organisations who can start to exploit these changes and innovate to provide relevant solutions will be very successful in future. On the other hand, concerningly, there will be increasingly major challenges ahead¬†to find ways to ensure everyone can be fed.

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FDIN Seminar – Breakthrough Innovation for the Food and Drink Industry

Just got back from an excellent seminar, run by the Food and Drink Innovation Network¬†(FDIN). Lots of interesting stuff to share in future blogs on ways to improve your targeting of Lead Users and ways to engage them more fully in your innovation process, Open Innovation, Consumer Trends and¬†Emerging Packaging formats. Incidentally, the FDIN is a great source of information about¬†developments in the food industry and I make sure I get regular updates.ÔŅĹ

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Innovation directions on

I’ve just received the latest from, my favourite trend site and this month it’s a doozie. The article, entitled “Innovation Avalanche” lists 41 innovative products, business models¬†and services, a number of which are enabled by new technology. What I love about Trendwatching is that they pick out some really interesting innovations and trend directions and they mix it with an insightful commentary. They have a network of upwards of 8000 spotters around who notify Trendwatching when the see something interesting. Incidentally, I had the privilage of¬†attending a day long seminar some time ago when Reiner Evers, the Trendwatching founder shared some upcoming trends and insights. It was a deep, inspiring¬†and powerful experience which I would recommend to other innovators. The article urges us to be less earnest about innovation, to have some fun with it. There are highs and lows in the featured innovations as you might expect, so, in the spirit of fun, here is my pick from the list with a “sweet spot” spin:


Ever fancied running your own brewery? Now you can with For $50 you can buy a slice of the action in terms of voting rights on the¬†company name, logo, product design, product mix, marketing plan, advertising and sponsorship. They are looking for a minimum of 50,000 members. Assuming the concept goes well, profits will be divided three ways: one part to members in the form of reward points redeemable for products from the Beer Bankroll store; one part back to the company; and one part to charity. Interesting business model with a potentially captive audience (I own the company so I’ve got to drink the beer). Not sure that 50,000 people voting on what the product tastes like would work for me. It’s a different business model, but I’m not sure that 50,000 people can create a better beer than one talented brewer. Verdict: doesn’t work for me, I’d rather drink Leffe.


I reckon catwalkgenius might stand a better chance. Catwalkgenius has joined the crowdfunded fashion fray with its new Adopt a Designer program, featuring fashion and accessories from independent designers. Through Adopt a Designer, supporters of a participating designer can buy shares (or “elements”, as it calls them) in their work for EUR 14-plus a EUR 1 processing fee-in the hope of sharing in future profits. Once 5,000 such elements have been sold, the designer is given the resulting EUR 70,000 to create a new collection within 6 months. In the meantime, supporters receive a limited edition piece created exclusively for them by the designer. So far, the company has signed up 160 users, half of which are designers. Clearly this business is just starting out but the numbers look more achievable. There could be a niche.¬†


Blyk is a free mobile phone service aimed at 16-24 year olds. In exchange for¬†217 texts and 43 minutes free every month they get advertising-up to 6 messages sent to their phones each day. Britain’s youth don’t seem to mind-Blyk reached that 100,000-member target six months ahead of schedule. Blyk will launch in the Netherlands in the second half of 2008, followed by Germany, Spain and Belgium in 2009. This will definitely have some appeal for 16-24 year old without an excessive text habit.¬†



 Here is a definite example of the Premiumisation trend, meaning take something mainstream, find ways to make it very special and charge for it. Monavie is an ultra premium line of alcohol-free juices that could easily be confused with wine. Utah-based MonaVie offers both juices and concentrated gels made from 19 different fruits, all chosen for their healthful properties. First among them is the Brazilian acai berry-widely considered a health-promoting superfood-accompanied by apricot, aronia, acerola, lychee, wolfberry, bilberry and of course grape, to name just a few. Pricing is very high-end, indeed, at about USD 40 per 750 ml bottle of juice.



Here’s a winner right on line with the Individualisation trend.¬†Exploiting specialised printing technology allows personalisation of your M&Ms to an unprecedented degree. The new innovation takes the existing service which allows customers to pick colors and have texts and logos printed on M&M’s, a step further by enabling customers to have their own likeness printed on the candy. M&M’s Faces lets customers upload one or two photos, pick their colors and add up to two different texts to be printed on separate M&M’s. Using a simple interface, they can zoom in or out to select which part of a photo they want to use. The photo file is turned into a sketch-like rendition that looks good on small pieces of candy.


Finally an innovation on the Convenience trend direction. US based colorOn and Australian Eye Majic have both introduced press-on eyeshadow kits. The kits allow consumers to instantly apply professionally created eyeshadow designs without applicators or mess. Each single-use kit is applied to the eyelid using a pre-prepared strip that contains a variety of matched and blended colors. Pressing the strip to the eyelid transfers the colors onto the eyelid in just the right shades, creating a look much like one a professional make-up artist might have created. I’ve checked out the website, purely in the interest of research and the process of applying the make-up looks rather more complex than initially advertised. ÔŅĹ

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44 surprising things you can eat and indigestion

Hmm… have you ever considered eating your chair, or perhaps using a deodorant which you eat rather than apply to your skin? These products and another 42 others are listed on the trendhunter website. Some other dishes you might be tempted by include:

an edible FIAT Panda car advert

an ingestible robot (yummy)

an edible menu

edible shoe cream (now why didn’t I think of that?)

and finally….

ingestible silver pills for 24 hours of sparkly poo

The Trendhunter website talks a good fight, but I got a sinking feeling when I started to review some of the content, you know the feeling, a bit like when you’ve eaten something which didn’t really agree with you. Anyone for cardboard bicycles and MP3 doorbells? Who said these were the start of anything apart from a headache? OK I won’t give up on it right away, you’ve got to give these things a chance, even though I object to the rumbly feeling I get when I try to digest something that has been hyped like¬†Trendhunter has.

Right now though I would say that trendwatching is a far better place to find out about up and coming consumer trends. I’ll keep you posted.

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Premiumisation trend in food

I’ve recently been having a bit of a look at how the premiumisation trend has been playing out in some food areas. In Hawaii, single estate coffee is now¬†actively marketed with some of the top blends and¬†Peaberry beans retailing at $50-$60 per pound or more. Although we are talking about a natural food product, you would¬†be amazed at the technologies some of the farms are using to get the best quality. Here are a few highlights:

Regular soil sample analysis to ensure the right level of nutrients are present in the volcanic soil. Some farms are organic.

Coffee trees trained to grow along trellises to get optimal exposure to the sun, like vines. This growing format has actually been patented by Kona Joe! A good example of technology transfer between parallel industries.

Hand picked and sorted beans

Water-less pulping, not sure how this process works

Combination drying processes to ensure the beans are in the optimal condition

Various state-of-the-art roasting technologies

Gas tight, nitrogen flushed packaging with a CO2 bleed valve

You can even have a custom label on the coffee just for you…

See this Kona Premium link for a full story of their process. In the USA, coffee is the subject of deep passion and premiumisation is a key trend which I predict will continue to play out in the market, credit crunch or not.