It is a fact that the food sector has had to innovate almost by force. In a short period of time, several trends have taken hold of the market, generating the so-called “tribes” of consumers, a segmented client that seeks very specific products on the shelf.
That was the point made on the first day of Ftalks’19, the event organised by KM Zero and Cámara Valencia on innovation and the future of food which was held in Marina de Empresas. Beatriz Romanos, director of TechFood Magazine, noted that 16.9 billion dollars have been invested in the sector worldwide, in processes ranging from the field to garbage.
Among these food tribes we can find vegans, keto, gluten free, school safe food, flexitarian, climatarian or fodmap, among others. Many brands have decided to make it visible that they are targeting these audiences by referring to the increasingly austere composition of products or the high amount of protein in a product. Romanos mentioned mindful eating as a big trend that fits in with many others. “It is not only about the well-being of the people who eat, but also about their environment,” he recalled. Health, realfood, traceability or alternatives to carbohydrates are some of these new requests. Eating healthy, knowing where a product comes from, avoiding all processed sugars or eating the ingredient that you feel bad about has become important.
Innovation and startups
Throughout the event, other companies such as Vicky Foods, Ceylan, Dacsa, Logifruit or Grupo Martínez explained their success stories with startups. Also, companies like Trazable, ADBioplastics or Heis Global have explained their success stories related to sustainability, blockchain and innovation from within the industry’s perspective.
Cristian Ull, head of Innovation at Logifruit, assures that in their innovation process they have also included open innovation in order to see what is happening outside the company, including the startups as part of this process: “We define challenges to solve a problem and then generate pilots to test the technology in order to prove that the startup has a value contribution”, he says.
Mari Carmen Vidal, Dacsa’s product developer, points to her interaction with research centres. “Today we have several multi-year national and European projects and we have recently opened a Dacsa innovation center,” she recalled. The company has a functional strategic plan to lead the way and has implemented product and service development programs to address this. “We are identifying the statutes that can accelerate these developments. That way we can get closer and see how we can help them out”.
Carlos Valero, Ceylan’s Quality and R&D manager, assures that the product’s customization has allowed them to be very flexible. “In the last 10 years we have doubled exports and reached Asian and American markets and all this based on product innovation” he pointed out. Valero pointed to the support they give to recently born companies, which in many cases have seen growth and which also make their sales grow.
Joaquín del Río, Director of Quality and R&D at Vicky Foods, affirms that the internal structure for creating innovation is based on all workers contributing their innovation ideas for all products. “We come from a range of products that are very much in disrepute and we have had to turn to healthier products. This has also led us to enter the world of startups”, he admits, “The renaming responds to the need to adapt to new trends. We separated the brand Dulcesol -more for pleasure- and Be Plus -more for healthy consumption-.
Large companies are focused on producing in a safe way and with a startup we can quickly generate a product range that would have taken years to reach, which is why we hire startups on some occasions”, he recalled.