Top Australian innovation expert Becky Mead, Managing Director of consumer-led innovation group PLAY, says there’s never been a more exciting time in the last 100 years for food manufacturers to innovate with new product development.
PLAY Managing Director Becky Mead.
Speaking at the recent launch for thinkfood LIVE 2023 at Sydney’s Carriageworks, Ms Mead said post-pandemic, there’s an even greater urgency to understand innovation strategies and trends from a consumer perspective.
thinkfood LIVE on 25-26 October next year at Carriageworks, will connect food professionals with suppliers and service providers to kickstart their NPD journey or breathe new life into existing products.
“There’s a bit of a controversial theory that over a span of 100 years society’s pattern is circular,” Ms Mead told guests. “The four stages are growth, maturation, randomness and rebirth following a crisis. We’re now at a solid stage four.”
Given the fierce competition, Ms Mead said it was vital to identify trends and understand target markets. “Understanding how society repeats patterns can help identify what trends to follow. Everyone needs to be keeping an eye on what’s happening in culture, the environment, policy, and science and technology.”
Ms Mead said manufacturers don’t necessarily need to break the mould, but rather follow on from what’s already trending.
“If you look at this year’s NeilsonIQ Breakthrough Innovations in Australia it included low calorie cake bars, iced lattes, plant-based barista style milk and disinfectant spray. These things are on trend but not particularly wowing or wacky. So, you don’t need to peer too far into the future, because you may miss a golden opportunity right now. It’s more important to keep your finger on the pulse and execute quickly when you need to.”
Last week’s launch party was attended by a wide range of suppliers, creatives and food development professionals hailing from leading businesses including Vow, Breville, Kerry, Goodman Fielder, Woolworths, Arnott’s Biscuits, Mintel and Sunrice.
Learning how to protect your innovation pipeline within the new challenging landscape will be one of the themes underpinning the thinkfood LIVE conference. Designed in collaboration with industry content advisors, the conference will bridge the gap between NPD ideas and execution, covering commercial insights, and ingredients trends, as well as future technologies, and design and creative sessions.
thinkfood LIVE will also host an exhibition, with trusted suppliers, showcasing their expertise in NPD focussed areas including ingredients and flavours; creative services; packaging solutions; consumer research; food science and technology.
The exhibition will offer opportunities for these suppliers to meet with research and development managers; NPD managers; technical buyers; brand managers; marketing managers; product managers and purchasing managers. A range of branding and sponsorship options are available to reach this audience via the thinkfood LIVE event and online.
thinkfood LIVE is supported by Australian Institute of Food Science & Technology (AIFST); Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP); Investment NSW; Small Business Organisations Australia; Langdon Ingredients and PLAY Consumer-Led Innovation.
“The event will be made up of the specialist industry professionals responsible for specifying ingredients and services to support new product development,” said Product Manager Felicity Parker.
“Meeting trusted suppliers and exploring new ideas to keep products at the forefront of this competitive market, will give buyers the opportunity to be at the epicentre of an innovative product solution. We’re thrilled to bring this exciting new event to the food and drink space.”
For more information, visit thinkfood.com.au.