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Strategies for improving communication between social and consumer
scientists, food technology developers and consumers

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Communication is key to innovation in the food industry

New food products and innovations introduced in the food industry have high failure rates. A better understanding of consumers' needs and improved communication among key players in the food innovation process could help to overcome this.

Industrial Technologies

Addressing these issues, the project CONNECT4ACTION (Strategies for improving communication between social and consumer scientists, food technology developers and consumers) advanced tools that enable communication in order to increase acceptance of novel products and technologies. The EU-funded team developed a comprehensive communications framework, tools and trainings to effectively link food technologists and consumer scientists. Work involved literature review of internal and external communication, interviews with experts both social and technological sciences in Delphi approach and workshops with stakeholders. Based on the knowledge gained, researchers developed a set of tools and training materials that support to improve communication and contribute to the multidisciplinary dialogue. Internal and external communication is linked to the three different stages of new product and technology development generating, dissemination and responsiveness. The toolbox is tailored to the particular needs of the process for developing novel technologies and products, and accounts for the crucial connection of consumer wishes with technology development and supports multi-disciplinary approach. It includes recommendations, support for developing an effective communication plan, case studies on successful communication of food innovation, a guide for early signalling of potential new technologies and a glossary of relevant terms. Educational materials are also available. An online stakeholder community now connects food scientists and technologists from universities, research institutes and companies together with consumer scientists. Dissemination continues to take place even after project-end, with activities targeting key players via the website, social media, yearly events and study courses, through the special interest group Connect2Innovate of Wageningen UR and EFFoST. The approach also ensures the next generation of food technologists has access to a wealth of relevant and updated educational materials. One notable result of the project's networking efforts is stronger European cooperation between private and public stakeholders. CONNECT4ACTION provided a base that effectively closes information gaps between stakeholders in food technology development and commercialisation. This smoother route to food innovation promises increased product acceptance, more successful commercialisation and competitive opportunities for EU enterprises.

Keywords

Innovation, food industry, food products, consumers, food innovation, consumer scientists, food technology

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