Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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How Does Food Innovation Research Work? 

As stated in the definition of product development, no matter how groundbreaking the modification, the product is worthless if it doesn’t sell. Sales of food products can be examined by examining the retail sector, which is characterized by fierce competition and the dominance of supermarkets in many countries of the world. Retailers compete for customers’ dollars, but food producers also must fight for shelf space. Between 12,000 and 25,000 food and drink SKUs can be found in Australia’s (19 million) and New Zealand’s (4 million) supermarkets.  

This figure might get as high as 40,000 in regions like the United States (population: 283) or Europe (729 million). These supermarkets in Australia and New Zealand are typically presented with 5,000 and 10,000 “new” innovative food and energy each year (compared to over 18,000 in the USA), of which only 10% are selected for display. When a new product hits the shelves, it usually coincides with removing an older product. Only about one percent of the 500–1000 new products released annually by supermarkets will still be available in five years. 

The following are some of the research projects that center on food innovation: 

  1. Open Innovation in the Food Industry 

Consumers in the food industry are notoriously wary of radical shifts in what they buy because of concerns about their health and the strict safety regulations that govern the industry. Companies in the food business are increasingly focusing on satisfying consumer demand. 

Because of recent and dramatic consumer demand shifts, open innovation in the food business is paramount. A competitive advantage for the food industry may be found using an “open sustainability innovation” strategy. After the advent of nutraceuticals and functional foods, Sarkar and Costa (2008) argue the obstacles preventing different businesses from working together to take advantage of this new market are fast disappearing.  

However, as we’ve already established, the food industry typically invests little in R&D and has little expertise in clinical trials to satisfy health regulations. In contrast, the pharmaceutical industry can provide those missing skills and expertise. For instance, a sports nutrition company collaborated with a Dutch chemicals company to improve the utilization of their whey protein. Consequently, it can be defined as businesses cooperating to leverage the knowledge and skills of specific sectors to improve the food industry. 

The success of a business in an open innovation setting is contingent on active engagement from all members of the network of stakeholders, from the providers of inputs (such as raw materials) and the researchers and developers (R&D) through the final consumer. 

  1. Increased Demand for Specialized Food 

End consumers are becoming more health-conscious about their food, demanding products closely tailored to their diet for various reasons. It includes the rising cost of medical care and the expectation that the young and the old will enjoy better health as they age. 

It is a functional food that incorporates potentially valuable items, including any modified food or food ingredient that may give a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrient it provides. The good news is that consumers are becoming increasingly familiar with and receptive to functional foods, which aim to provide essential nutrients that may be lacking in an otherwise healthy diet. Lactose-intolerant patients, for instance, can replenish their calcium stores by eating functional foods enriched with calcium.  

The study found some of the reasons for the success of functional foods, including the positive image repairs, the customers, and the intensive research on probiotics that led to the development of new dairy products. 

  1. Plant-based Protein Diet Instead of a Meat-based 

Vegetarianism is a movement that has gained momentum in recent years. Today’s youth are increasingly concerned about their health and the state of the planet. They want to eat healthier and have a less environmental impact, so they’re switching to a plant-based diet. Recipes emphasizing vegetables and ready-to-eat meals with novel and tasty ingredients are in high demand. Plus, they aren’t content with the few mediocre vegan options available and are pushing for quality and steady advancements in the vegetarian-based food industry.  

As a result, the food sector must adopt new approaches to meet the wants of its existing clientele while also expanding into related fields. It began with soy and almond milk, and now the food industry is working with other sectors to try out new ideas like vegan ice cream. 

  1. Environmentally Friendly Packaging 

As awareness grows about the environmental toll taken by conventional plastic packaging, businesses are beginning to take action by adopting new practices and forming partnerships with providers of environmentally preferable “green Packaging.” 

To that end, bioengineering, nanotechnology, and the search for novel techniques for preserving and fortifying food products with nutrients offer a method to satisfy the needs of today’s consumers. Since many of the technologies and solutions lie outside the food industry, the food industry must develop more formal relationships with other sectors in the innovation system to capitalize on the current innovation cycles.  

As a result, the food industry sector should see a marked increase in OI strategies ranging from access to external knowledge and skills to external labor talent and services.

Final Thought 

The food sector is a hub for cross-disciplinary collaboration between technology, sociology, and anthropology. It takes place at every food chain step, from growing and harvesting to primary and secondary processing, manufacturing, and retail distribution.  

Ultimately, introducing a groundbreaking new or enhanced product or service to the marketplace marks an innovation. Changes in the food system, consumer eating habits, and other sociocultural spheres are all affected by innovations in a single food technology sector, such as process engineering, product formulation, food quality, or consumer wants. 


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