Technology and innovation are two important keywords in contemporary industry speak. However, they aren’t just buzzwords. They actually represent real change and tangible policy especially within the food sector.
Consumers have teeth and the food industry knows it
Gone are the days where consumers are happy to accept what food manufacturers put out. Labels are scrutinised and high profile campaigns are demanding a switch in ingredients; the use of artificial flavouring; additives alongside less salt and sugar etc. Consumer preference is driving significant change and the meat free agenda is one of the most important.
Have you noticed that veganism is no longer considered niche?
For example Monde Nissin who are the owners of Quorn Foods will be investing just over $9 million in developing an “innovation” factory. This will be sited at its headquarters in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, UK. This is in direct response to the consumer led interest and demand for plant-based foods. Have you noticed that veganism is no longer considered niche, leftfield or slightly odd? Therefore it’s fairly obvious that plant-based product innovation will play a major role in growth strategies. People are looking for alternatives.
R&D is a cornerstone of maintaining innovation and a proactive approach to business.
The staff profile will have to match the company rhetoric, however. A strategy is only as good as the personnel who undertake its delivery and continual iterations. But the pressure is on, as new products are being released thick and fast from Quorn. The consumer really is hungry for anything new and different. The company already focuses on protein fermentation but there’s always room for further research and development.
Meat free now represents 15% of the UK food market
Not only should Quorn react to trends such as the switch to meat alternatives they need to position themselves as innovators and thought leaders. Better to be proactive than reactive. There is so much more to be done with respect to meat consumption, environmental; impact and health issues, for example. What was once very niche now represents 15% of the UK food market according to company statistics.
Brand new food product and beverage launches tracked with vegan positioning is impressive
Data collated by Innova Market shows that people are responding to food products that bear the 100%plant and “plant-based’ labels. Between 2012 and 2016 the purchasing growth has risen around 45% annually. Bear in mind that a 55% increase annually for new food product and beverage launches tracked with vegan positioning is impressive. Market Analysts, CARG studied this trend across Europe.
Therefore it makes sense for Quorn to capitalise on the interest and action being demonstrated by consumers. Their Chief Exec. Kevin Brennan suggests there is the appetite to develop into a $1 billion company over the next decade.
This is an exciting development and proposition but one of the most challenging things amidst the excitement and optimism of a new innovation centre is staffing. Shortages of skilled staff are being exacerbated by the impending Brexit uncertainty. According to the latest IHSMarkit/Recruitment and Employment Confederation “Report on Jobs”
Staff vacancies rose in Q1 of 2018. Engineering was actually the most demanding when it comes to skilled, permanent staff. Ironically many more people are actually entering the employment market. Yet there is still a shortfall in certain roles as diverse as sewing machinists and cyber security staff. Although a pay increase may work, with the millennial generation in the workplace, there needs to be more focus on workplace culture, progression and challenge. We will watch the Innovation Centre’s development with keen interest.
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