Cheaper and more with less seems to result in a dead-end street. Therefor the call for added value – an other word for innovation – is logical. In this process I follow the principal of “keep moving”, quickly develop ideas into prototypes, market them and adjust them based on the first reactions of the market. The major movement seen in society at the moment is, as I see it, less “chemical”, more fresh and as much products with recognizable ingredients as possible (call it natural).
An example:Albert Heijn recently asked her suppliers to refrain from using colouring from the ‘Southampton Six’. Innovation, that’s the key. As a scientist I think this is premature. These six individual colourings are probably innocent (which doesn’t mean I declare candy with these colourings healthy!) though there is sufficient substansive discussion about the Southampton research method.
Yet I do understand AH, even more so: I think it is a brave and wise decision. My own circle, me included, do wish for a less complexity in an already complex society. Next to that there are sufficient reasons to take the results of scientific research with a scoop of salt. Food and health are complex matters in which ‘scientific certainties’ from the past all too often proof to be not so certain.
The food sector shows too many characteristics of the banking sector. Products got so complex that nobody knows exactly where they’re at, nor gets the effect on the whole picture. Food and health research to combination-effects – concerning ‘health’ and ‘non-health’ of ‘particles’ – is taking its first steps. And especially the long term effects of ‘cocktails’ are unknown.
As an innovator I therefor say: “accept this new reality”, and react to it. After all, we don’t develop products for scientists, but for modern consumers. A few years ago I described the use of chemical ingredients or adjuvants as non-creative. Product developers taking the ‘chemical’ route I called ‘easy’ and ‘lazy’.
The AH colouring resolution will hopefully incite us food technologists to become more creative again. If the market enforces restraints, we will have to think of alternative solutions that do fit these new outlines. Consumers deserve products that fit within that new reality. My advice as a marketeer for manufacturers is mainly to look closely at the possibilities of new non-chemical processing technology based on physical principles (pressure, electricity, diffusion, etc.). Natural high-tech food without the use of ‘chemical’ forms a growing market.