Why Innovate When You Produce in an Outdated Fashion?


Faouzi Grebici, Industry Solutions Manager EMEA at Omron, spoke to the Food Sure Summit about why companies are falling behind in the race for innovation.

The food and beverage industry is seen as a rapidly evolving sector, with consistently changing consumer trends challenging companies to speed up their innovation.

However, although companies may be focusing on producing more innovative products, the mass production model used by many remains outdated and suited to consumer trends that no longer exist.

Faouzi Grebici, Industry Solutions Manager EMEA at Omron, spoke of this malalignment, claiming:

“Not so long ago, in the south of Europe, lunch was an institution, but now food on the go is the everyday and people want more and more personalised things. So, what people want has evolved, but the production model hasn’t caught up and it is still designed for mass production”.

As a consequence of this outdated production model, Grebici highlighted two areas in which companies may be losing out. The first was food waste; 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted worldwide every year, 70% of which is wasted at the production and distribution stage. Not only is this an increasing concern for the modern consumer, but it is also an incredible loss for the manufacturer. “Ideally, the best way to remedy this is to make food as close as possible to the consumer,” says Grebici. This would lead to less food being made en masse where there isn’t a demand, and therefore there would be less wastage in the industry. However, as he points out, the mass production model still used today isn’t suited to the on-demand trend of the consumer, and therefore the model must adapt in order to reduce waste.

The second consequence of the mass production model the increased time to market for manufacturers.
“As the demand is very dynamic and trending is scattered in terms of gender, age, allergies, regional tastes, seasons and lifestyle etc., forecasting demand and planning new products becomes a real headache for food manufacturers”, Grebici claims. “The biggest delay to market is not always due to development and production but to the heavy planning around it”.

In order to remedy this, Grebici calls for a ‘linear scalability’ between sales and investment on the production line. “If we are flexible, nimble and make it easy to deploy/redeploy/relocate/reuse production lines, they can be scaled up or scaled down dependent on actual sales - this will help reduce the time to market”. By tightening the link between sales and production, manufacturers would ensure not only that they would reduce their wastage, but also that they could be more responsive to the shifting market dynamics and stay on top of their innovation.

Faouzi Grebici will be speaking at the Food Sure Summit in Amsterdam, 16th - 18th April. You can find out more about his session in the full programme.