We asked the judging panel for this year’s World Food Innovation Awards what they are hoping to see from entrants.
The food awards, which will be hosted at IFE in March, offer brands an exceptional way to enhance the promotion of their latest products and ensure they are recognised at the highest level.
There are 27 trophies to be won in total, and being shortlisted provides a hallmark of success that will prevail long after the awards draw to a close.
The judges’ comments will hopefully offer inspiration and help in crafting the winning entry. The deadline is 1st February.
CEO, Monash Food Innovation Centre
I’m looking forward to being a judge for the World Food Innovation Awards 2019. Being in the innovation game for the last 15 years, I am truly excited to be part of the team to not only judge but also support our innovative global community. Here my top 5 criteria that I will use as a lens:
Meets a need and has a strong consumer-centric focus: At the end of the day we want to create/design/develop products that will be used, not just another product that adds to the noise and confusion for the consumer or customer.
Has a unique value proposition: An important criteria in ensuring products that are unique not only meet the need or make the job easier for the consumer/customer but also make it harder to copy and have stickiness on-shelf/online.
Truly exciting innovation: Innovation can mean different things to everyone but I am looking for a product that gets my innovative juices flowing.
Leverages our global resources in a sustainable way: Whilst the world of consumerism grows, we are also at a place where we will need to get more from fewer resources of water, land, energy as there is currently no Planet B. I am interested to understand how the products have taken a totally holistic approach to sustainable design and development.
It’s a “WOW”: A knocks-my-socks-off product, something I have not seen before or even considered, so this your chance to WOW me.
We are witnessing more innovation in food and drink than ever before – it’s an incredibly exciting and challenging time to be part of the industry. But there are 3 things I’d want to see from any new entrant: value, opportunity and creativity. Before you apply for these awards, I’d start with these questions:
Where’s the value? How does your product add genuine value to the people who eat or drink it? In my view, in order to really add value to the consumer, there has to be some consideration of health. This could be responding to changing dietary needs, or ensuring you have natural, intelligible ingredient lines or creating a product which aligns with massive cultural movements like the rise in veganism.
Is it accountable? Transparency over supply chain, use of sustainable materials, company ethics – these are just some of the issues dominating customer expectations from brands. Innovation that demonstrates real respect for our food system, the world and the people within it, will turn my head.
What’s the opportunity? As well as adding value for the consumer, there needs to be a market for your innovation. Is it the right time to launch? What’s the competitor landscape looking like? It’s not enough to have a great product or service – it must be is supported by a viable business model and market opportunity.
What makes it truly different? If entrants have nailed their value proposition and market opportunity, I’ll now want to see something that creatively sets you apart – this is what really pushes my buttons! Design and aesthetics should never just be seen as window dressing – they are essential and powerful tools that can help you overcome commercial challenges. And within FMCG your packing is unquestionably your best marketing tool. Don’t waste it!
Co-founder & MD, Tastehead
I’m delighted to be judging this year’s World Food Innovation Awards and expect competition between both established brands and exciting challenger brands to be high. Recent years have seen enormous growth in the ways in which brands use innovation to answer the growing demand for products that are better for us and the environment, and I expect this year to be the same. However, true innovation comes in many forms, and therefore these are the main criteria I will be focusing on:
Quality of ingredients: One of the most important purchase drivers for repeat sales, this must not be compromised in favour of ‘gimmicks’.
Need state: There must be a clear need state of the target consumer which the product is answering, and this needs to be clear through branding, packaging or format.
Packaging: This needs to be in-line with the product and target consumer’s expectations.
Longevity: How likely will the product still be on the shelves in 5 year’s time? Flashes in the pan can drive short term sales and make headlines in the press, but the very best innovation is here to stay.
Clear values and transparency: Does the product have a clear reason-to-believe and how transparent (and ethical) is the product with ingredient sourcing, recyclability and nutritional information?
Portfolio Director, Fresh Montgomery
Here are the criteria I will be judging entrants on:
True innovation in food & drink NPD: Not just new flavour combinations but solutions to the ever-evolving changing face of food & drink retail, think food-to-go and the highly lucrative yet under-explored breakfast category.
Functional foods with added health benefits: As the consumer becomes busier but has a greater desire for healthy food products, this category is ripe for innovation – think gut health, food as a medicine etc.
Circular brands: Brands which tackle wider issues than the simple commercials.
Exciting and sustainable packaging solutions.
Founder & MD, Forward Fooding
The type of innovation I will be looking for is new-to-the-world consumer products, tech solutions for better food and innovative/alternative packaging solutions. What will set these apart is:
Product market-fit: Clearly communicate benefits – from nutrition, health and functionality, to fun or simple refreshment. Have delivered a unique proposition either through innovative ingredients or packaging, environmental sustainability, clean label or ethical behaviour.
Market/consumer adoption readiness: Show solid metrics of customers’ will to adopt the product/solution and a proven inclination for repeatable purchase.
Scalability: Demonstrate it’s a scalable solution and have at least conducted feasibility studies on manufacturing scalability.
On-trend/Ahead of the curve: Demonstrate a clear fit with existing/up-and-coming consumers’ trends and offer tangible benefits and show there is an existing consumer appetite.
Food innovation specialist
Areas I’ll be looking out for in entries for in the World Food Innovation Awards 2019 are:
Eye-catching but functional: Products that are eye-catching and desirable with functional use and purpose in the market place, something new and different that stretches thinking.
Uniqueness: I’ll be looking for something I’ve not seen before that shows uniqueness and innovation. Whether it is through the whole product, source of origin or an ingredient or process.
Community impact: Products that are actively striving towards sustainability, utilisation and responsible practices. With packaging that is versatile and has more than one disposable use.
Health and well-being: Highly considered, alongside a little treat is good for the soul.
I’m also looking for style, fit and appeal.
Business Development Manager, Treatt
Here is what I will be judging entries on:
Differentiation: How will your product stand out amongst competition? Please explain the unique selling proposition and your competitive advantage.
Innovation Story: How did this innovation come about? What was the main driver and what gap in the market will it fill? Customers are often after a ‘story’ of a product or brand such as heritage or something unique about its creators and their entrepreneurship.
‘Wow’ Factor: In a saturated market of new brands on the shelfs, how will this product excite customers at first sight? What’s the ‘Wow’ Factor?
Game Changer: Is this innovation a game changer within its category, and if so, how?
Future-focused: How does this innovation perform in 2020?
Group Editor, FoodBev Media
I’ll be looking out for products that:
Help to create entirely new categories: Products that aren’t bound by the confines of any one category and satisfy consumers’ desire to try new things.
Bring new life to old concepts: Can you show your product is truly innovative and can add an exciting twist to a familiar concept?
Improve the way we think about and make food and beverage products: Having a great product is one thing but this needs to be supported by a viable business model that shows clear values and a culture of innovation, from the supply chain and ingredients through to the final product.
Consider the external environment: In particular, entrants that have clearly considered the role they play in a wider food and beverage industry – the social and nutritional implications of their products, and the legislative pressures on their corner of their market.
Co-founder, Young Foodies
I’ll be on the lookout for products that are:
Consumer first: I want to see products that have been created with a purpose and to meet a real need. Show me something that has been developed from a somewhat altruistic consumer perspective. I want to understand how you identified the gap in the market and how you went about the process of addressing it.
Scalable and sustainable: Approaching the consumer packaged goods space sustainably is a must as consumers pay more attention to their impact on the planet. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum; out and out sustainable brands, and products with some sustainability credentials. The former isn’t always scalable, and the latter doesn’t always deliver. I would like to see a well thought through product proposition that delivers on sustainability while scaling with relative ease.
Pushing manufacturing boundaries: With so many food producers adopting a contract manufacturing model I want to see producers that are challenging manufacturing practices. This could be developing products or using ingredients that need very specific processing or, new innovative pack formats never seen before. I want to see examples of challenging concepts brought to life. Protect your IP but tell me about your development challenges and how you overcame them.
Appealing to the mass market: Over the last few years, we have been inundated with premium-priced brands and products that, whilst desirable in urban areas, struggle to repeat their success nationwide. I want to see affordable innovation with mass market appeal. Show me ‘smart’ innovation that is designed to go big and better the lives of the masses.
Sarah Ali Choudhury
TV chef, restaurant manager and founder of Sarah Ali Easy Curry
How excited am I to be a judge for The globally acclaimed World Food Innovation Awards 2019…..VERY!
One of the things I’ve noticed with some amazing people and their incredible products or ideas is their self-doubt. Winning an award is prestigious and gives you kudos, tangible business results, it raises your profile, gains you new stockists and new clients and that’s exactly why you must enter. Here’s what I’m looking for:
A degree of innovation: Is the concept new and does it supplement an existing product with a new desirable quality?
Functionality: Does it fulfil all requirements of handling, usability, safety, and maintenance? Does it fulfil a need?
Differentiation: How is the “ready to launch” product different from existing marketing offerings? Is the difference positive and does it add value?
Aesthetic quality: Is the “ready to launch” product’s form pleasant to look at?
The story behind the product: Of course you would want your entry to stand out from the competition. A process that’s a world away from what most people imagine it to be. Innovation is the wellspring of change with a constant supply of clever and creative. Tell me your stories to support your innovation because this gives your product marketing edge therefore increasing the saleability.
Wishing all the participants the best of luck. Believe in yourself and believe in your brand….. go for it!
Packaging specialist and founder, Medoola
It is a pleasure to be part of this year’s awards, as packaging is a huge talking point right now. I’ll be focusing on innovation that stays true to concept and brand ethics from ideation through to final design. My top five areas include:
Balance: I want to see how a product connects with its packaging. There are examples where the two don’t connect and it’s not only frustrating to me as an expert but to consumers too. I’m keen to find an innovation that has got that balance right.
Packaging Functionality: A must of any innovation is understanding your target consumers and how they interact with your product. Alongside offering product protection, packaging offers opportunities to add value or increase the ease of use. It’s a real point of difference.
Sustainability: Finding the right sustainable route is challenging, but with more potential options in this area now available, I’m looking to see examples of moves to sustainable solutions that fit the product and justify the changes made.
Design: A good on-pack design portrays the overall product quality and creates that all-important consumer engagement. I’m looking for clever designs that deliver brand identity.
Channels: A multi-channel FMCG environment changes the game for brands and products. It challenges different thinking, perhaps even creating innovative difference for the same product dependant on the sales channel. How a brand uses social media, delivers products through e-commerce and within retail are all factors to consider. I want to see some clear innovation in finding different ways to provide a consumer experience.
Owner & Manager, Belmont Packaging
I’ll be judging on the following:
Social responsibility and wellbeing: Does this innovation have a positive impact on public health and wellbeing? How will society benefit both physically and mentally? How does the company treat its employees and does it have a social conscience?
Environmental: How green is the process when manufacturing the product? How progressive is the company regarding its green credentials? How much waste is produced? Is the waste recycled?
Economic: How is the product priced, it is value for money and accessible for all socioeconomic backgrounds?
Design: Will the packaging catch my eye and make me want to buy it? Does it provide a consumer experience from point of purchase.
Differentiation: How does the product and company stand out from the crowd, is it something different and off trend?
CEO, EIT Food
As the head of EIT Food, Europe’s leading food innovation consortium, I’m delighted to be judging these awards and excited to see the next generation of innovations transforming the food industry. When considering the applicants, my key criteria for a stand-out innovation would be something that:
Clearly reflects a need: At EIT Food we believe that the change required in the food system must be in-line with the needs and expectations of consumers, so can you demonstrate how this innovation is clearly addressing an identified consumer need?
Applies existing technology to the food industry: Has this innovation been successful in another domain already which you’ve then applied to the food industry? For me, this greatly increases the chances of it being a breakthrough and having real impact.
Is completely unique: Conversely, there are times when an innovation is so completely new and with such unique potential that it deserves to be recognised. Surprise and inspire me and you’ve got my attention!
Articulates the partnerships that deliver success: What partner relationships does your innovation need to make it truly successful? Co-development partners? Distribution partners? Other vital relationships? Explain how your innovation will draw on the strength of your ecosystem.
Delivers measurable societal impact: Can you demonstrate that your innovation will have a quantifiable societal impact? For example, if obesity is costing the planet x, and your innovation can reduce it by y, then can you provide a realistic, fact-based figure to help quantify the potential impact?
If you could bring all of this together in a clear business model canvas as well then you might be on to a real winner!
CEO, Simba Events; and Head of Content for the Food and Beverage Innovation Forum (FBIF)
We are now living in a constantly changing world, where innovation can never be emphasized more and innovative cases emerge at a high speed. What I perceive to be the most innovative products mainly focuses on the following aspects:
Taste as well as function: The biggest challenges of innovation are to find the perfect formulations for food ingredients among thousands of choices, and to successfully scale up with appropriate processes for the formulation. It is often said that most healthy food is not delicious, while delicious food is always unhealthy, but in fact, only delicious food can make consumers enjoy real happiness and continue purchasing.
Clean label: Overprocessing and excessive additives always concerns the health-conscious consumers and even causes their anxieties. Therefore, clean labels deserve great attention. Keeping both clean labels and good tastes could be something great and challenging for food products.
Packaging design: An outstanding product is supposed to excel in almost every aspect including packaging design. To “dress” food with suitable packaging attaches great importance; Before the food product is tasted, its packaging firstly imparts its multidimensional information to its consumers, which almost determines whether the product could stand out among competitors at the first sight.
Overall creativity: Let’s recall all the great food innovations: the first time to preserve milk in the Tetra Pak; the first time to get the coconut water out and put in the bottle; the first time to store Kombucha in a brown glass bottle; the first time to mix Greek yogurt with cereal or nuts and etc. All of these are brilliant creatives that offer great consumer experience and bring happiness.
Director and food technology scout, The Aurora Ceres Partnership
Innovation is word that gets over-used. This can also be said of sustainability. However, they can be easily defined: innovation is a process that adds value, and sustainability is the capacity to endure. With that in mind, I’ll be looking for:
Stewardship: Technology and innovation have a responsibility of stewardship. New and novel food and drink technology must include stewardship as a fundamental operational pillar. Stewardship in this context will be successful by aligning the development roadmap to core sustainability and environmental principles and evaluating each component of a product in a holistic manner.
True sustainability: I want to see that products and innovations are truly sustainable and that any claims are actually supported and evidenced, rather than common opinion. New products and innovation need to show that a long term, as well as a broad, view has been taken in terms of the environment, health and nutrition. Innovation has the burden of responsibility to provide a better future, so I’ll be looking for products that really deliver against the full definition of sustainability.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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