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The Inspiration from the Software Industry
Food and beverage product developers are finding inspiration in the software industry’s approach to product development. Lauren Lackey, President at Centauri Innovations LLC, highlighted the quick and front-end prototyping mastered by software companies. She admires their willingness to embrace failure as a learning opportunity and suggests bringing a similar mindset to the food industry.
Harnessing Social Media for Trendspotting
Steve Marko, Senior Director R&D at Tillamook County Creamery Association, encourages product developers to keep an eye on social media platforms like TikTok and explore restaurant menus for potential trends. He believes that if innovative products are already on retail shelves, the food industry should take note and adapt accordingly.
Social Media and Global Trends
Dr. Shima Shayanfar, Principal Scientist at Herbalife Nutrition, emphasizes that social media provides a window into trends happening worldwide. With the world becoming smaller due to globalization, consumers are eager to try new experiences from different cultures. This presents opportunities for the food industry to tap into diverse and emerging trends.
Navigating Innovation through Acquisitions
Companies in the food industry have two primary approaches to innovation: internal development and acquisitions. Lackey warns against stifling innovation when larger companies acquire smaller, more innovative firms. Instead, she suggests allowing acquired companies to retain their autonomy and teach the larger entities their unique approaches.
Tillamook’s Hybrid Innovation Strategy
Tillamook County Creamery Association leans toward internal R&D but also embraces disruptive innovations from outside sources. By keeping a product development firm on retainer, they can stay flexible and respond to unforeseen opportunities without maintaining a large in-house team.
Post-COVID-19 Innovation Surge
The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily slowed down food product development as the industry focused on maintaining business continuity. However, as the stress subsided, the food industry became more resilient and inventive. With newfound efficiency, it has managed to upcycle side stream waste and streamline processes, leading to a renewed surge in innovation.