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Insights from the Food Innovation Summit 2015

Insights from the Food Innovation Summit 2015

Looking back at my notes from the first Food Innovation Summit, I could summarize a couple of main insights and decided to share them. So let’s have a look at them.


Some notes on behavior and demographics

This sounds very promising, but in the future we can expect to be older, lonelier and poorer. But we should also be more connected and ethical. 

  • Older: Well this has more to do with the ageing population. The group of people over 65 is expected to continue to rise. Therefore, a number of services might be necessary to develop or adapt to cater to the elderly (e.g. store formats, deliveries…)
  • Poorer: Again a view that announces a very bright future but some analysts tend to agree on this. For retailers and manufacturers, it seems that arguments on margins will prevail; and that Private Labels will still know success. 
  • Lonelier: A lot more families have to cope with single parents, families don’t count as many kids as the past decades… so packaging, and portion sizes need to adapt to this trend.
  • More ethical: As we know what’s going on the other side of the world, and as we are more and more informed, we (should) have more concerns about environmental issues, ethical farming, ethical production…
  • Waste: now here is a great debate where studies show that Retail actually doesn’t waste much (only about 3% of the total turnover, according to the University of Wageningen). That is probably because retail is all about efficiency. But consumers have a lot to learn and should adapt their behavior (e.g. attitude towards misshapen vegetables, overbuying because of promotions…)


Product information management

Whether retailers and manufacturers want it or not, the consumer knows more and more.  And his knowledge will continue to grow. The access to information is much easier for consumers, as well as the exchange of information through the growth of online communities.

Expect the consumer to be even more mobile. To get information on the products they buy, or consider buying, consumers will consult information online and also reviews from the persons they trust (friends, but also online communities, forums…).

Therefore, product management is becoming key. The access to information needs to be quick and easy. But it is also imperative that the information spread is the correct one. So retailers and companies have to really work on the concept of Product Information Management.  


Disruptive ideas and concepts

Our food industry is changing, and in constant evolution. The movement is not just fueled by big corporations, but also by other disruptive ideas.

In terms of food, the Food Innovation Summit showcased DO EAT, a concept of eatable food containers. The idea is to eat your plate, your container etc, in order to reduce waste (water, time, …used for doing dishes). Another concept showcased was the now known insect based cuisine. Seen as the next big thing to replace meat, the concept still needs to break some psychological barriers.

Finally, two very disruptive concepts were the ones of TELLSPEC and NOTEO. Both help consumers to make informed choices. NOTEO, supported by communities and experts, offers a neutral rating system of products monitoring health, social and environmental aspects. TELLSPEC is a company that developed a scanner capable of analyzing your food. Just a quick scan of your food on molecular level and a few seconds later, you receive the actual information about calories, ingredients etc. (More on NOTEO and TELLSPEC in other posts).


Food is Emotion

Now here is something that was mentioned during some debates, but it mostly an insight that was discussed during different conversations. One item that kept coming back on the table was that food is emotion. Brands have not disappeared, and will never do so in the future. We can try to rationalize as much as we want, analyze information, etc. the consumer will also be guided by one element: emotion. So in order to sustain in the future, do indeed take the future insights in consideration; but also build an emotional relation with your consumer.

Food Innovation SummitFutureTellspecNoteoInnovationInsightMobileFoodProduct Information Management