Currently, my company SMARTKETING is strategically targeting sustainable foods. Unfortunately, the food-away-from-home channel is still recovering from the pandemic. Investment in future innovation is lop-sided. Reminds me of some words of wisdom my mother once shared with me: “You do not create a future, with a foot in the past.”
As a Business Catalyst, I am a firm believer innovation is paramount to the long-term success of any organization. I am continually researching, as well as writing about the topic to further amplify my marketing skills. Over the years, if there is one thing I have learned/experienced to quote one of my favorite innovators of modern dance: “The creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off; it’s with you all the time.” (Alvin Ailey – American Dancer)
As I stated above in the Blink the food-away-from-home channel is still recovering from the pandemic. A majority of food companies I engage with are still scampering to get their businesses back to pre-pandemic levels. During the recovery process, they have been challenged by supply chain disruption, rising costs and shrinking margins. As a result, when I propose assisting in the development of sustainable products which are good for the future health of consumers and the planet, I encounter budgetary hurdles. Especially from a majority of start-up companies who have raised substantial funding to develop innovative products, yet do not think it is necessary to invest in the due diligence needed to better understand market realities to develop a strategic roadmap.
Is the post pandemic lop-sided investment in future innovation totally attributed to tight budgets? Not really, I believe there are two other major factors:
- Routine – Same old, same old stunts creativity. Established/mature companies are too caught up/programmed in their day-to-day operations to take timeout to think outside the lines. To be truly creative, you must challenge the status quo and to look at everything from a different perspective. “Any business today that embraces the status quo as an operating principle is going to be on a death march.” (Howard Schultz – American Business Leader)
- Eating Behavior Myopia – In a relatively short period of time we have experienced three major historical global disruptions – The Great Recession, COVID-19 and the current global warming crisis. A major byproduct of these events has led to a consumer renaissance in eating behavior. For starters, The Great Recession led to the emergence of frugal consumer behavior at Retail Grocery and an offset at food-away-from-home, the demand for indulgence and experimentation (e.g., bold ethnic flavors). In regards to COVID-19, several leading research surveys validated a large majority of consumers changed their eating habits. A survey conducted by the IFIC (International Food Information Council) revealed American respondents were cooking at home (60%) to a greater extent and observing healthier eating habits. In addition, the pandemic heightened the awareness of the fundamentals of the foods system supply chain. Food companies need to be farsighted beyond their current sales and fully recognize consumer consciousness is on the rise. Consumers are focusing more on their health and well-being, as well as the planet’s. Consequently, food & beverage expectations will continue to evolve as their F&B IQ increases. Food companies must begin investing now in designing products which reflect their consumers future personal lifestyles. During this process, companies need to be transparent right down to the source of every ingredient and the energy utilized in manufacturing/delivering their products to market.
Time to innovate. “The status quo sucks!” (George Carlin – American Comedian)