Supermarket ‘innovation’ often more ‘renovation’

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Cosser: ‘We can learn from failure'
Cosser: ‘We can learn from failure'

Related tags Heston blumenthal Food innovation solutions

Too many supermarket products are examples of ‘renovation’, not innovation, according to Stefan Cosser, head of innovation at Food Innovation Solutions (FIS).

“A lot of what we see on supermarket shelves is not true innovation, but rather renovation; a new flavour range or slightly smaller or slightly bigger packaging formats,”​ Cosser told “These don’t drive incremental growth.

“True innovation is bringing something new; a new idea, method or device to address a customer need, whether it’s one we knew about already or not. It’s the true innovation that can generate you a bigger market share.”

Creative innovation

Cosser claimed recent research suggested most people tended to avoid truly creative innovation because of the fear of failure associated with it.

That was why the most innovative ideas often originated from start-up companies and entrepreneurs, which had less to lose.

Businesses needed to ensure they fostered an environment that encouraged the collaborative development of new ideas, without people feeling they would be punished for making mistakes, he said.

“What’s more difficult is creating a space, both physical and mental, that stimulates and facilitates and encourages a creative and collaborative way of thinking, without the fear of being punished if you get something wrong.

‘Learn from failure’

“Some people talk about embracing and even encouraging failure. Now, I wouldn’t go that far and say we should encourage failure but we do need to understand that failure is not a bad thing.

“We can learn from failure and become better having failed. I wonder how many companies not only understand that but also accommodate that.”

FIS not only advised companies on creating new products, but also helped create systems that could deliver them as large-scale commercial propositions, said Cosser. Before joining FIS, he was senior development chef at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck restaurant.

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