Innovation is the commercialisation of an innovative idea, and having this happen very much relies on the organisation of a company, according to recent research by the University of Copenhagen, the University of Manchester and the University of Saskatchewan.
The study on Innovation & Integration in the Agri-food industry in Denmark identified vertical integration as well as contractual arrangements as significant in bringing successful products to market.
“The larger the number of firms that a manufacturer deals with, the larger the number of new products the company tends to introduce,” said the research. “This indicates that network linkages may have positive effects on the introduction of new products, since the number of new products introduced increases with the number of firms that the company buys from, or sells to. One interpretation is that companies who sell to a large number of firms may have to differentiate their product in order to cater to each customer’s needs.”
Within a company, clear reporting and internal structure are key to supporting innovative activities: “Innovation is a part of what we do, whether you’re in marketing, consumer insights, R&D, or any other department for that matter – you’re expected to be part of the innovation process,” said James Andrade, vice president of R&D for Kraft Foods Asia-Pacific.
Taking a holistic approach can be coupled with an ‘open innovation’ strategy, working with outside organisations to optimise internal potential. Heinz has been working with Graphic Packaging International (GPI) on innovation, which has resulted in an award-winning solution for packaging its Smart Ones brand of grilled flatbread. Focus Inset Susceptor Technology from GPI enables the flatbreads to be enjoyed crispy or soft.
“These healthy flatbread sandwiches wrap together rich strips of meat, fire-roasted vegetables and tasty sauce in a flatbread dough that features real grill marks and a bakery-fresh taste,” said Bob Babich, manager of market development for GPI. “However, some people like their flatbread crispier and some like it softer, so we let them cook it just right, simply based on how they position the product and the package in the microwave.”
Susceptor technology eliminates hot and cold spots, and allows products to be crisped and browned in a microwave in a similar way to a traditional oven. “As we make susceptor technology sophisticated – combining it with improvements in paperboard design, forming and laminating – we can expect to dramatically rethink and reshape all types of food packaging, whether it’s boxes, cartons, trays or sleeves,” said Babich.
Working with innovative companies and using the latest technologies will always optimise a company’s potential to bring products to market effectively, and being open to receive these new ideas and develop them upstream and downstream of the organisation is likely to reap the greatest rewards over time.
Claire Rowan is managing editor of Food & Beverage International magazine. Subscribe here.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019