BY ASHLEY POLLOCK
R&D CONSULTANT, AYMING
Yesterday on FoodBev.com, Ayming’s Ashley Pollock explored the increasing importance of innovation for food companies and their main challenges. In this second article, she discusses how food companies can create the right culture to overcome these challenges, as well as some of the rewards it can generate.
Industry changes and increasing competition, not to mention the other challenges we discussed in our last article, can make food innovation appear somewhat daunting and potentially unachievable for many companies. While most may see the benefits of creating a culture of creativity within their company, the journey isn’t the same for every organisation and with no one-size-fits-all path to follow, it’s easy to see why it’s tempting to put innovation on the back-burner until another day.
So, how do dynamic food businesses foster a culture of innovation and what gear do they need to shift into in order to set themselves on the pathway to success?
Creating the right culture
Whether they’re delivering pure innovation or making subtle changes here and there, the businesses that are most effective are undoubtedly those who’ve created a culture of innovation within their company by focusing on and nurturing growth in key areas, including:
The rewards of food innovation
As challenging as originality in the food industry might be, there are plenty of benefits to be reaped by forward-thinking businesses who are prepared to step forward and embrace it.
It would appear from stats recently published by Forbes that innovation, as well as investment across the UK, is buoyant. The figures put the UK fifth in the list of best countries for business and London is eighth in the top cities around the world to launch a start-up. Neither would have been possible without continued investment or innovation.
Sweden, New Zealand, Ireland and Hong Kong also fair well in the list of countries in which to start a business.
But given these stats, and others like them, it’s believed that as little as 1% of qualifying food companies are currently utilising the lucrative R&D Tax Relief Scheme. But why?
Broadly speaking, originality involves challenging existing ways of thinking and looking at things from a different perspective. Ironically, what many food companies don’t realise is that there’s a lot to be gained by taking an ‘innovative’ view on the way in which they see innovation within their organisation with regards both new and existing products. No more men in white lab coats and no more thinking it only relates to big ‘blue sky’ thinking.
By looking at innovation differently, food companies can harness its full potential, as well as be rewarded for their research and development in the process with incentives such as the R&D Tax Relief Scheme. Contrary to popular belief, recovery of R&D costs doesn’t just apply to pharma and blue chip businesses, but to all companies, including food manufacturers, who are developing new products, processes and services or improving existing ones.
Food innovation doesn’t necessarily have to involve reinventing the wheel and coming up with the latest product that knocks everybody’s socks off. Believe it or not, it can involve the tiniest of tweaks, such as using sunflower rather than olive oil to produce houmous with a slightly different organoleptic delivery, changing from a synthetic ice cream thickener to a more natural one or adjusting the rheology of a bread dough to make processing more efficient. Whatever the change, some degree of trialling and testing with the existing product formulation and production processes will be required, which is the essence of R&D.
So, whilst there may be challenges, they are challenges that forward-thinking food companies can turn to their advantage. With the right insight and approach they can be used as a springboard to up their innovation game and be rewarded for it in the process. I’d say it’s a win-win.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020