Friday, March 26, 2021

Fast and Ferocious Is the Future of Innovation


Remember when it was impossible to attend two conferences at the same time? Ahh, the good ol’ days. For the past seven days I’ve been interacting with my computer screen while attending SXSW (South By Southwest, usually in Austin, Texas), RCA+ (the Research Chefs Association’s annual conference that was scheduled to be in Atlanta) and AMC (the Annual Meat Conference that was scheduled to take place in Dallas). I will share some key highlights. 

Chris Riddell, an innovation and futurist speaker from Australia, kicked off AMC by telling attendees to expect massive disruption, continued uncertainty and an unlikely return to the “old normal.” In other words, if you thought 2020 was insane, the next 12 months or so will bring even more change as some businesses—and ways of doing business--go away while others start up to reinvent experiences that consumers crave.

“The question becomes what’s going to replace [the old normal]? The truth is, we actually don’t know,” he said. “And this…is the most important thing we have to get used to going into the future. It’s this constant level of uncertainty about the future.”

“You cannot have a finite mindset [in the way you approach your business],” he said. “Innovation is no longer a luxury.”   

Ridell described 2020 as simply a warm-up act for what is to come. Businesses must brace for seismic shocks. Most of these will be technological in nature and will have a profound impact on how we live, learn and work.

“Here’s my view for the future. If it took a decade for digital to become normal, then the real disruption is yet to happen,” he said. “Strap in and brace yourself for the next decade, because we’re going to see fundamental disruption in health and energy and food and agriculture.”

He explained that we now live in a non-linear world, as no one stays in their lane anymore. And, if you are staying in your lane to maintain legacy—the way it was always done—you will not make it.  

He closed by emphasizing that “If you are planning beyond 2021, make sure you have elasticity, be obsessive about creativity, create as much velocity as you can and push yourself toward being brave and innovate with as many new ideas as possible.”

At SXSW, many of those businesses of tomorrow provided a sneak peek to their future. All I can say is: watch out plant based, the future is looking more like cell-cultured food. And, as a dairy scientist, I find this quite easy to understand, as it reminds me of growing vats of cultures used for fermentation to make cheese, kefir and yogurt. 

The rise of cell-cultured foods was affirmed by McKinney’s Food Trends Report, which was released this week. In writing this report, Jasmine Dadlani, head of strategy, focused on determining why something is trending and what it means at a deeper level, rather than just listing what's “in” and “out.” To explore the report in detail, link HERE.

At RCA+, the consensus was that it is paramount we keep consumers excited with food innovation while they are on this ride of a life time. The continuum of changing consumer behavior must always be part of your innovation plan. After all, we are now much closer to being the Jetsons than the Flinstones, and there is no going back.  

Consumers are going to expect more from everything and everyone. When it comes to ice cream, complexity is key. You cannot just have a new flavor. You must hit on all the senses--flavor, texture, aroma and visual appeal—and you must have a story. Did I mention you must do this fast and frequent?

Photo sources: Hanna Barbera Productions

Andrew McBarnett, the co-founder of Neale’s Sweet N’ Nice Ice Cream in Toronto, Canada, gets it. Launched in 2015, Neale’s Sweet N’ Nice Ice Cream offers six fruit-based, all-natural ice cream flavors available in several different sizes for retail stores and restaurants. The company is looking to expand its presence in Canada while moving into the U.S. and European markets.

McBarnett’s grandfather, Charles Neale, founded the original ice cream company in the 1940s in Trinidad, with recipes he developed himself using local fruits. By the time he passed in 1986, his children and their families were scattered around the world. One of his daughters, now settled in Canada, and her growing family—including Andrew—eventually decided to restart the company using his Caribbean-inspired recipes that include whole fruit ingredients in order to satisfy the senses. Varieties are: Coconut, Guava/Passion Fruit, Mango, Pineapple Coconut, Rum n’ Raisin and the most recent addition, Banana Chocolate. 

“It’s essentially homemade ice cream made for the masses,” said McBarnett.

To get to the masses, “Innodelice is assisting with our expansion plans in a number of ways,” he said. “They are supporting our U.S. expansion by doing an extensive U.S.-based co-packer search and interview process. This includes assessing the co-packers’ ability to produce our unity product and also confirming the co-packer has capacity for future production needs as we grow in the U.S. They are also supporting our international expansion by adding us to their network platform and introducing us to other importers internationally.”

To learn more about Neale’s, link HERE.

“Innodelice has the relationships and expertise to assist us in connecting with suppliers in the target markets that we want to grow in,” he said. “They have the relationships that would take us months to acquire. They have the processes to ensure and manage the contracting and exporting process.”
They are an example of being fast and ferocious and the new way of doing business.  

Opportunities to Meet with Colleagues to Collaborate and Innovate

There are a number of events taking place virtually over the next few months that may assist with your innovation efforts. I highly encourage you to participate in order to engage with colleagues. All of these events were cancelled last year because of the pandemic, and the regulars are anxious to get together and welcome new people. It just so happens I will be speaking (different presentations) at all of these events. (Yes, there's some overlap. Speaking from experience, the virtual element allows you to attend more than one conference at a time.)  

Global Dairy Congress. June 22-24. 

got a winning innovation? World Dairy Innovation Awards

Dairy processors around the world continue to amaze with their innovation efforts. Here’s a chance to receive recognition: enter The World Dairy Innovation Awards 2021. The U.K.-based FoodBev Media organizes and presents this award. This year the judges will be selecting winners in 20 different categories. Typically, the finalists and winners are announced at a special gala dinner held during the annual Global Dairy Congress in mid-June. This year’s event has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony in June.
Link HERE for more information.

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