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Innovation in the European food and beverages industry

The European Innovation Monitoring System (EIMS) has published a report on "Innovation in the European food products and beverages industry". The report, prepared for the European Commission by the University of Aalborg (Denmark), looks at the role of innovation in the Europea...
The European Innovation Monitoring System (EIMS) has published a report on "Innovation in the European food products and beverages industry". The report, prepared for the European Commission by the University of Aalborg (Denmark), looks at the role of innovation in the European food and beverages industry today.

The food and beverages industry in commonly regarded as a "low-tech" industry. The present report reveals that, despite its low-tech reputation, a striking observation from the EIMS study is the radical nature of both product and process innovation in the industry over the past twenty years or so. In addition, the study finds a strong relationship between innovation and profitability. The most innovative firms persistently show the highest levels of profitability and least susceptibility to risk through critical phases of the business cycle.

With regard to the technological competitiveness of the European food and beverages industry in the world market place, the study comes to two broad conclusions. Although Western Europe has fared reasonably well in patenting in food and food-related areas, in the light of broader analyses of innovation trends in the industry, and if new paradigms such as biotechnology, electronics and instrumentation come to predominate in food technology, then Western Europe's broad disadvantages in these areas could become stumbling blocks.

The second conclusion is that although food processing does have some inherent advantages for disseminating industrialization across countries, in recent times these benefits have been reaped more by the medium-sized countries of Western Europe than by the smallest and most disadvantaged. The study indicates that the gaps are larger still in terms of implementing new technologies.

The study concludes that a shift towards the demand side is needed in policy making at all levels. The focus needs to shift from knowledge creation to knowledge diffusion, but also from upstream to downstream in terms of the knowledge creation itself.

Source: European Commission, DG XIII

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