M&S reveals formula for food innovation success


Is innovation part of your food manufacturing strategy? Are you creating a differentiated product range? At our Food Manufacturing 2030 Conference, Simon Lushey, Specialist Technical Manager at Marks and Spencer presented why and how innovation is so important to food retailing. Here are the key points and slides:

Why is innovation critical to future food success?

Innovation will play a key role in our ability to overcome the possible crisis in 2030 as predicted by John Beddington, the UK government's chief scientific adviser. As the world's population grows, competition for food, water and energy will increase. Food prices will rise, more people will go hungry, and migrants will flee the worst-affected regions. Our ability to adapt and innovate will be critical in the future.

Commercially innovation has been a critical part of Marks and Spencer’s success in food retailing which has been underpinned by product differentiation. By investing in new product development they have differentiated themselves from competitors whose strategy has often focused on price.


Radical innovation is key

To deliver the step change in performance we need to overcome John Beddington’s “Perfect Storm” Simon emphasised the need for radical innovation in the way we manufacture food. Whilst highlighting the benefits of incremental improvements, ultimately continuous improvement should be a pre requisite of all our roles but it is disruptive new thinking that is required for future success.

Simon chose to quote Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” to clarify the point. By applying NEW knowledge, NEW resources and NEW skills, you can succeed in radically innovating your product and process. This is very true, you cannot expect to improve and differentiate as a company without movement, without investment in resources and knowledge, without creativity and without innovation.

Highlighting where he felt the disruption could happen, Simon discussed the implementation of robotics, automation and advanced technology to food processes. This provides the opportunity to deliver competitive advantages for food manufacturers and the ability to overcome existing challenges which could be holding you back such as traceability, flexibility, adaptability and quality etc.

The winning formula for product differentiation

The most powerful food innovations combine all of the constituent parts; raw materials, recipe, and process. On their own, raw materials, recipe, and process can be replicated but innovation across all three will create a unique product that can be better protected from copy cats.


By combining new product development across all three areas, food manufacturers can create new and differentiated offerings that retailers and their consumers will LOVE.

Discover how Steam Infusion can help differentiate your product

You can download a white paper explaining how you can combine a new process, Steam Infusion, with ingredient changes to improve dairy sauces:

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Or, for a more hands-on experience, sign up for OAL’s cooking classes solving your food manufacturing challenges:

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