Blog: Dean BestWorried about costs? Keep innovating

Dean Best | 8 April 2008

Before I head off to Barcelona, I took a quick trip up to Birmingham yesterday (7 April) to the Food & Drink World exhibition.

The show attracts many of the UK’s leading food manufacturers but predominantly sees more regional and mid-sized exhibitors show their wares to the industry.

Such companies are often at the forefront of innovation in the sector and UK retail buyers – and, indeed, representatives from the big boys in the food industry – are seen floating around the show, trying to catch wind of the next big thing.

However, in the current downbeat business climate, and with concerns heightened over rising costs, you would imagine that innovation might be further down the list of priorities than usual. Investment in R&D often gets slashed when there is greater anxiety over the bottom line.

That assumption, however, would be misplaced, exhibitors told me yesterday.

From the likes of Bel UK promoting new kids’ cheese brand Giggles to Yeo Valley, the UK’s leading organic dairy firm, branching out into the foodservice channel with ice cream, the show was rife with innovation.

Even companies like Riviera Desserts – whose owner Uniq is facing financial challenges – is pushing its dairy-free range Nomoo.

The message, it seems, is that, despite anxiety over rising raw material costs and consumer confidence, innovation should remain at the heart of any food manufacturer’s ambitions.

Something like only one in ten products may succeed but, if your new brand is a hit, it could provide a lucrative future for your business.


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