The Forward-thinking Food Industry

August 16, 2011 By Aminda

An interesting new study from Antennae says the global food market boasts trends on the cusp of transformational global growth. This market is “evolving with imaginative product developments and new brands hitting retailers’ shelves. These innovations, such as functional foods providing extra health benefits and edible coatings result in a greater variety of foods reaching consumers’ shopping baskets.”  

Innovation in the food industry should not be any surprise with companies like General Mills and Campbell’s leading the way. Among General Mills’ initiatives is the posting of detailed technical briefs on the company’s G_WIN website. While the site has received a lot of attention, the company also runs an internal social networking-type site which allows staff to collaborate with each other, culminating in annual conferences where various business units come together in person to share ideas. They also create opportunities to generate ideas from and engage with suppliers, start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Campbell’s too has made a focused effort to build partnerships with suppliers and even peers, through participation in events such as Walmart’s sustainability consortium. Scouting programs and supplier fairs let them actively recruit future technologies and partners.

However, some industry insiders see room for improvement. A review published in the Journal of Food Engineering finds parallels between the food industry and acadamia and outlines recommendations for each sector individually and ways they can work in partnership. Among the author’s key recommendations were revising IP; creating new models for co-sharing and ensuring adequate funding. Also important is insuring the industry is giving attention to corporate social responsibility at every step in the innovation process. “A genuine concern for society in all actions and decisions should become the norm and an integral part of the innovation process… the whole innovation process should therefore take into consideration the social contribution.”

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