Managing Food Innovation


  1. Introduction to Managing Food Innovation Process
  2. Stage Gate Model for Food Innovation Management

1. Introduction to Food Innovation Management

An essential element of developing successful new ideas is to have a formal market focused Innovation Management System. In particular such a system can be used to drive and manage new product, process and packaging developments in a food business. The aim is to manage then innovation process from idea to utilisation by defining and controlling key steps and activities such as marketing, technical development and financial analysis.

The process of innovation in the food industry involves moving from idea through to successful products, services or processes. It is a gradual process of reducing uncertainty through a series of problem solving stages. Following idea identification, increasing commitment of resources during the life of the innovation project makes it increasingly difficult to change direction. Managing new product or service development is a fine balancing act, between costs of development and the benefit or risk of going to market. As life cycles of products get shorter and shorter, pressure is placed on the development process to work with a wider bank of ideas in shorter lead times. This has the effect of increasing uncertainty and the risk of problems arising.

Innovation is a risky adventure by definition. The objective is not to eliminate the risks, since this is impossible, but rather to reduce and manage the risk towards picking the winners. Experience has shown that the best way to do this is to have some form of structured development system, with clear decision points and agreed rules on which to base go/no go decisions. The development team will be charged with the task of developing such a system and embedding it into the management structure, organization and culture.

1.1 The Benefits of Using an Innovation Management System

There are a number of benefits of using an innovation management system, which can reduce the risks in financially supporting a new project development too heavily early on. Some of the benefits include:

  • Faster new product introduction.
  • Higher success rates at launch.
  • Earlier detection of failures.
  • Being on time and on budget.
  • Greater customer satisfaction.
  • Better launch plans
  • Cycle time reduction.
  • Less recycling / rework.
  • Improve teamwork.

This whitepaper will cover such a structured management approach tailored to the food industry. While innovation requires input from a variety of disciplines such as marketing, production, technical and finance, this module will focus mainly on the technical aspects of developing a product or project.

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