Archive for the 'Trends' 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 ʻtipping pointʼ 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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How to target profitable innovation areas with TRIZ

July 28th, 2008 | Category: Technology trend,Trends,TRIZ concepts,TRIZ tools

One of the most basic and frequently observed TRIZ laws is the law of non-uniform evolution of technical system components. This law states that within any technological system, the various system components evolve along their own S-curves at non-uniform rates. This non-uniform evolution causes the development of System Conflicts. Put another way, this law predicts that systems will have areas of perfomance which are not good enough. If you follow the Clayton Cristensen line of reasoning, as outlined in the Innovator’s Solution, the companies who work on these areas and consistently advance these areas will be able to make bigger profits. So, the law of non-uniform evolution can really help you target the most profitable product areas for your business in future. Here are a couple of examples of technological systems where this law is being or has been played out. First an historical one, the evolution of the bicycle:


In this picture from the 1890s you can see three different formats of bicycle being used at the same time. On the left is a safety bicycle with chain drive, but solid tyres, in the centre is a lever drive bike, allowing the rider to sit further back and lower. On the right is an “Ordinary” bicycle with pedals directly driving the front wheel. Although this bicycle is the most primitive format, it has the most modern tyres – pneumatic. To get to the final format of bicycle which we recognise today, many system conflicts were overcome. A key system conflict in the “Ordinary” format was the need for increased speed against rider safety, which resulted in a very large front wheel with severe risk of injury in the event of a fall.


Now lets look at a current example which is getting a lot of press right now because of the rising cost of fuel and fears about global warming. The electic/hybrid vehicle: A key system conflict being played out right now in this area relates to the performance of the battery system. Right now the latest battery technology is too expensive and the infrastructure is not in place to support long journeys. As a result, many manufacturers are targeting plug-in hybrid vehicles, which require more complexity and still generate emissions and use up fuel. I’ve just read in the Sunday Times that GM is planning to bring the development of battery technology in-house which backs up the Cristensen model. Clearly, whoever manages to take battery technology forward sufficiently to break through the current system conflict will be able to generate very healthy margins.


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Cultural Creatives – new food consumer trends

July 20th, 2008 | Category: Consumer centred,Innovation direction,Trends

At the recent FDIN conference Anneke Ammerlaan outlined a new consumer – The Cultural Creative. These consumers believe in a blend of the old and the new – old knowledge combined with the latest science and technology. They value authenticity, much as the TNS “new consumer” does, are personally demanding, value honesty and relationships and are concerned about the ecology of the world. The attitudes of these consumers are playing out in 5 trend areas:


The taste of honest products from honest producers. They emphasise origin and traditional production and see beauty in imperfection. They place more emphasis on the preparation method as a means of creating flavour


Cultural Creatives see healthy food as real food and see the two words “Natural” and “Healthy” as very closely linked.


They believe in the personal touch and a re more inclined to prepare at leaste some of their food from scratch. The belive that if they put love into their food, it will taste better and will be healthier.


For Cultural Creatives, convenience is not just about time saving but is about simplicity and ways to deliver care with fresh, natural ingredients.


They look for bands and retailers they can trust and expect them to pay a fair price for a fair product. They are interested in exploring local foods and are keen to support local producers.

A must read book to learn more about Cultural Creatives is In Defence of Food by Michael Pollen.

A lot of what Anneke shared matches my experience of modern food consumers (and not just continental European ones) and gives weight to some key emerging food trends. I’ll try to get some more from Anneke over the next couple of weeks.


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