Innovation, what? A well-known phenomenon in the food industry

At the intersection of food and IT, the word innovation is a common one. It's a container concept, but at the heart of it is about creating something completely new or improving something that already exists. In a business-like way, it often deals with product or service innovations, innovations of production processes or innovations related to distribution/logistics. Technology is often a recurring component within these different innovations. But there are other aspects on which you can innovate as a food processing company. We recently conducted a study among the Dutch and Northern European food industry on five defined areas of innovation: process, product, organisational, marketing and sustainability innovation.

Product innovation and sustainability innovation were the two areas that prevailed the most in the study.  

  • Two-thirds of respondents say they have actively worked on product improvements or introduced new products in recent years. For many companies, this is a continuous process. It goes without saying that in the competitive food sector, where increasingly stringent regulation and changing consumer needs apply, many organisations have innovation teams. This starts with the timely recognition of important trends.
  • After product innovation, specific innovation focused on sustainability is the highest priority. We presented respondents with several questions in the field of sustainability innovation, including two striking results that were most common: Reducing the CO2 footprint (81% have worked on this over the past 3 years) and recycling waste/materials/water (78%).

Environmentally friendly packaging in the food industry

Another trend we’re seeing, is more environmentally friendly packaging materials. We are becoming more aware of the climate and the fact that we have to contribute to it ourselves. Recently, the new start-up Pieter Pot made headlines: A more sustainable way of doing groceries through glass jars, which can be reused. A great initiative! For example, there are innovative ideas in the fresh produce market as well, where in some cases there’s no packaging at all, but labels are lasered into the products using innovative technology.

Curious about the research we conducted among the food processing industry? You can find the results and conclusions in the Trend Report: Innovation’s sustainable harvest.