Putting science, regulation and nutrition at the heart of NPD

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In its annual trends report, out tomorrow, Leatherhead will say there has been a ‘notable shift’ in how food and beverage companies innovate over the past 12 months. According to Leatherhead, consumer and technical expertise is increasingly driving innovation ‘rather than simply supporting or validating it’.

Mark Butcher, Leatherhead commercial director, told FoodNavigator that companies who can deliver successful innovations ‘in a lean way’ are set to reap ‘the greatest rewards’.

“A key part of this is having a clear understanding of what consumers want, what will improve their lives, what the market allows for and what is scientifically or technologically possible. These aspects have always been considered, but too often this happened in isolation. What’s more, the detail was frequently ignored until the end of the innovation pipeline or even until launch.

“It’s now evident that the most effective businesses consider these factors much earlier in the R&D process, and in an integrated, holistic way. This creates a much leaner, more agile pipeline which supports bigger bets and ensures new products get to market more quickly.”

The business consultancy’s research draws on insights from food and beverage organisations, including large corporations and start-ups as well as regulatory authorities and associations connected to the industry.

Responding to ‘complex and dynamic’ issues

The evolution of innovation processes from traditional linear approaches comes in response to the seismic shifts taking place in the consumer landscape, Leatherhead believes. These range from ‘consumer empowerment’, to sustainability concerns and regulatory issues.

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