Innovation in the food industry during COVID-19

We are currently entering uncharted waters. But with each day of the COVID-19 pandemic that passes, we learn more about the challenges and triumphs of the food industry. It’s true that many projects and services in the industry have come to an abrupt halt; but we are still uncertain whether the current climate encourages or stunts innovation.

Many start-up companies and food entrepreneurs in the US faced a huge financial challenge when the Natural Products Expo West, a private trade show for industry, was cancelled in early March. This expo is well known for innovative natural and organic products, and the companies involved had invested thousands of dollars to participate. They would have been offered the opportunity to build relationships with retailers and investors; because of the cancellation, many companies could not launch their new products.

These emerging brands experienced further challenges due to supply chain disruptions – and a reduction in shelf space, as retailers are prioritising essential foodstuffs above certain niche products.

On the flip side, this crisis has created opportunities for companies that can no longer supply the restaurant industry to repurpose their products, and investigate novel ways to make nutrient-dense foodstuffs and prevent food waste.

Other companies are creating more nutritious product alternatives, and using incentives such as donating products to children and families in need for each purchase made to increase sales.

The ban on alcoholic beverages has led to many factories in that industry producing hand sanitiser and pure alcohol to be used in surface sanitisers instead.

Innovation certainly seems more possible for companies with substantial financial backing; but ultimately the success of innovation is dependent on identifying and quantifying consumer demand, which is currently unknown.

The multi-faceted FACTS team can assist you with product development. We provide custom-made solutions, taking legislation and safety into account. Contact us today for more information.