Finding the right balance between innovation and speed-to-market is a challenge for both established producers and startups. Are startups at an advantage when it comes to innovating new food products?
I recently contributed to an article on the nutraingredients.com website about innovation in new product development and how open to innovation the ‘big players’ in food and drink are.
My experience is that startups are more inclined to experiment with new ingredients and flavours. When you have a portfolio of products – especially ones that are already successful – there is a natural tendency to just extend the range or re-use existing knowledge and combinations.
The challenge for startups is often to maintain the freshness of their idea whilst making if safe, keeping it tasty and being prepared for scaling production. It seems, with big firms such as Du Pont, Unilever and Nestle setting up incubators encouraging collaboration with startups, that there’s a growing recognition that startups have a lot to offer. Interestingly, I often find that I help established producers explore ingredients that are new to them and I help startups to navigate processes that are new to them.