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True food innovation means ‘disruptive’ change

By Rick Pendrous+

Last updated on 07-May-2015 at 11:13 GMT2015-05-07T11:13:35Z

Put yourself on the innovation fast track by attending New Frontiers in Food & Drink on June 26 in London
Put yourself on the innovation fast track by attending New Frontiers in Food & Drink on June 26 in London

Breakthrough innovation is marked by a total transformation of an organisation and is completely different to developing food or drink products that just follow the latest fad or trend, according to a leading consultant.

It’s all about trend setting rather than trend watching, said Costas Papaikonomou, co-founder of the Happen Group, who chaired an innovation conference organised by the Food and Drink Innovation Network in London last month.

However, breakthrough innovation inevitably involved overcoming internal barriers to change, he added. “The only way you are likely to succeed is if you can see there is a storm coming,” said Papaikonomou. “Breakthrough is about delivering the same core benefits that you are delivering today but doing it better.”

Challenging questions

He cited the conflict between products that deliver low calories and those which deliver indulgence and suggested a breakthrough solution might be one that delivered both in the same product. Companies need to ask themselves challenging questions if they are to innovate successfully, he added.

“What would be my biggest nightmare from a competitive introduction?” he asked. “Because, whatever that is, you should be doing it.”

Rick Wielens, chief executive of crowd sourcing specialist Nine Sigma, continued this theme. “When you are talking about breakthrough innovation, you are talking about behavourial change – it’s not processes and technology,” he added, highlighting the importance of disruptive change that “disturbs” the status quo.

Breakthrough innovation

“When you are talking about breakthrough innovation, you are talking about behavourial change – it’s not processes and technology.”

  • Rick Wielens

Despite this advice, many new product launches followed food trends, said Laura-Daisy Jones, a global food science analyst at research firm Mintel. Some pushed the boundaries, while others were about restoring good nutritional properties to processed foods in a more ‘natural’ way, she added.

Let the crowd do the heavy lifting

One of the biggest problems of using crowd sourcing or ‘open innovation’ was the huge numbers of ideas generated, which required filtering, said Wielens. “If you do a crowd-type approach, let the crowd do the heavy lifting,” he advised. These days, it was small firms that generated truly novel ideas. “Innovation is not a big company game any more,” he added.

Open innovation and crowd sourcing ideas will be one of the subjects up for discussion by Julian Coleman, global business director at crowd sourcing specialist Eyeka at William Reed Business Media’s ‘New Frontiers in Food & Drink 2015’ conference, which takes place on June 26 2015 at etc.venues, St Pauls in London.

Read details of the programme below. For more information and booking details, click here .


New Frontiers in Food and Drink – putting innovation on a plate
  • State of the nation, Dr Morgaine Gaye, food futurologist
  • A view of innovation from retail
  • Retail breakout sessions on: 3D food printing, Free-from food and the Health needs of the older generation, Elizabeth Jones, founder, On the Menu
  • Manufacturing breakout sessions: Open innovation and crowd sourcing ideas, Julian Coleman, global business director, Eyeka
  • Insects as food, Professor Arnold van Huis, tropical entomologist, Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University
  • Taste testing
  • Roundtable discussions: Functional foods: hype or happening, Packaging: active and intelligent, where does innovation come from, Innovation to ease urbanisation, Innovating to safely reduce salt, fat and sugar
  • How neuroscience is changing food design
  • Product fortification: Professor Judy Buttriss  director general, British Nutrition Foundation
  • Personalised nutrition: Nutrigenomics the potential in perspective, Dr Jo Goossens, Bio-Sense
  • Questions and answers panel discussion and iPad voting outcomes

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