French dairy processor Bongrain has said it is becoming more of a challenge for manufacturers, in particular cheese, to innovate in the current economic climate.

Speaking at this year's SIAL food and drink exhibition in Paris, Béatrice Giraud, Bongrain's group director of corporate communications, told just-food that it has become "more and more difficult" for companies to innovate as a result of cost, competition and the level of products being launched.

"In the world there are something like 2,000 kinds of cheese. We have 1,000 distinctive cheeses in France. So it's becoming more and more difficult. You have two types of innovation. You have the incremental innovation and disruptive innovation. So that's innovation in terms of new packaging, new uses and new adaptations, and then you have the launch of new products, which becoming more difficult."

Giraud said the difficulties are down to the cost of research and launch of new products and competition.

"The main problem for us not really about but something more fundamental. The only way for a company to survive is innovation. For us, I wouldn't put much on the cost but that there is so much innovation.

"Innovation has to answer to something, it has to be important to the consumer but there can be too much innovation. We are very cautious as there are many cases around of innovation that has failed because people were uninterested, they don't come back."

Bongrain last week confirmed it is in talks with dairy co-operative Terra Lacta over a potential partnership deal.

Giraud told just-food that Terra Lact has approached Bongrain over the potential deal and that an agreement has yet to be signed.

"[Terra Lacta] is trying to find someone to support them. We have the experience of working with co-operatives. We can bring them our knowledge. But we are still waiting. First they have to get the agreement of numerous people.

"I think they'll find an agreement, but for the time being they are asking their corporate members to vote and this takes time. After the agreement, the two will have to discuss what form the partnership will take. It's really very early."