Sensing the possibilities for innovations

In sensing the possibilities, it is important to study the major changes that are taking place or predicted in society, in technology, food system, the marketplace and the consumers. Only then can the possible company initiatives be created.

Social and political changes cause changes in the food industry or may even prevent innovations in the food industry. Eating food is a universal activity and therefore the food industry perhaps more than any other industry is enmeshed in the social and political systems in every country. Society changes in many ways as shown in Table 2.1.

The political systems and their attitudes to the food industry also change with societal changes. In 1982, Throdahl suggested that the most important governmental method of encouraging innovation in the food industry was to reduce the adverse impact of regulations on innovation but did add 'without sacrifice of social objectives'. This has been the food industry's dilemma for the past 100 years and even earlier - innovation with or without consideration of society. The political system itself can encourage or discourage innovation, by placing trade barriers or subsidies which encourage local food production and discourage imports. National policies, based on societal concerns, needs and wills, can create a reactive environ-



Quality of life More than materialism Aesthetics Spirituality Reassurance


Food industry






Fig. 2.4 Human values and the food industry (Source: From Earle and Earle, Building the Future on New Products, © LFRA Ltd, 2000, by permission of Leatherhead Food RA, Leatherhead, UK).

ment for innovation in the food industry. In looking for innovation possibilities, food companies need to be aware of changes in societal attitudes that fuel political changes as well as food changes. The social and related political changes have caused food innovation in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Food companies need to have methods of monitoring social changes and predicting future changes (Earle and Earle, 2000). There needs to be greater recognition of human values in developing innovation strategies as outlined in Fig. 2.4.

Think break

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