Challenges of the food industry: Tech is the solution

How do we understand a consumer, who doesn’t know what he/she wants?
How do we keep staying innovative?
How do we attract and create value for student talents?

The answer to all the questions evolved around technology, and they were asked at Danish Food Cluster’s A Great day for Food Innovation Thursday last week, when the industry gathered to discuss future opportunities and challenges at Carlsberg Academy.

In the future the food industry has three “must win battles”, as CEO of Danish Food Cluster, Lone Ryg Olsen opened the event stating, and these are; understanding consumers, attracting talent and technology. These three where the overall themes of the event, and within each theme three industry profiles were to give a short presentation.

Talking about understanding the future consumers, Michael Mørk, Head of Ecommerce Grocery at Danish Supermarked Group, presented the challenge that consumers say one thing but does something else:

Consumers don’t follow on paper.

The solution to this was technology, because through technology you are able to observe consumers to find out what they need:

Online consumers don’t know what they want tomorrow. Therefore, it is important to observe and learn a lot about the individual customers preferences on food,” said Michael Mørk.

Besides from Danish Supermarked Group, Tulip, Arla and Carlsberg all study consumers through their online behaviour.

At Carlsberg we spend a lot of resources on consumer surveys, we study them by their phones, we map them, and use artificial intelligence,” said Anders Bering, Vice President Corporate Affairs at Carlsberg.

According to Arla in the future the industry needs to power up by technology – not only on the consumer survey front:

At Arla we use technology to get close to consumers and understand them, we use technology to improve our environmental footprint at the farmers and we use technology to improve our products, recopies and processes,” said Lise Berg Kildemark, Director of Cooperative Innovation & Portfolio at Arla.

At Arla technology is a driver for innovation and product development, and also the reason behind the creation of Popped Cheese, a popcorn made with real cheese, which all participants got to taste.

Besides from being innovative, in order to secure a strong Danish food industry in the future, Denmark need talents, and in particular science talents was one of the points made by Michael Almer, Senior Vice President of HR & Sustainability at FOSS, who gave a presentation within the talent theme:

Society is becomming more tech based, so we need more science people.

And in order to attract engineers, companies need to be leading within tech, according to Michael:

Companies has to have a friendly work environment, and they need to be leading at technology in order to attract the students.

According to Rolf Bonde Petersen, Co-founder and CEO at effectlauncher, the industry in general needs to step up on the technological front, as it is a tool to attract employees:

Danish companies need to embrace digitalisation, as research show that companies that have embraced it generate more value to employees. Moreover, research from Statistics Denmark also shows that the food business in general is lacking in digitalisation.”

If you ask the students themselves, the age gap makes the industry less open to the digital era. According to the student Justin Rosner, who presented his viewpoints at the event online:

On one side the age gap is not attractive for the industry, an example is when I come with a new idea on how we can make something more efficient like digitalisation or digital marketing, it feels like I’m speaking another language,” said Justin Rosner, originally from Germany but current studying his Master in Denmark.

Do you want to step up on the technological front, you should participate in our next event at ABB Robotics Industry 4.0 – Digitalisation in food production.

Food Innovator Award 2018

A Great Day for Food Innovation also included the Food Innovator Award – a personal prize for an individual doing a special effort for food innovation. Ten innovative food souls were nominated, and the winner was Lasse Hinrichsen, founder and owner of ENORM due to his successful work with introducing the Danes to insects as a food. To Lasse the award was a special tribute:

I am truly honoured with this recognition from the industry, also because I consider it a recognition of insects. However, there is still a lot of work ahead before insects become part of the the ordinary Dane’s dinner serving – hopefully we will achieve this in collaboration with the rest of the industry,” said Lasse.

Read the press release here (in Danish).

New board of Danish Food Cluster

There was battle for the seats at Danish Food Cluster’s board meeting, which was held in connection with A Great Day for Food Innovation Thursday last week. 16 profiles from the cluster were nominated for seven board seats and it ended in a close election in the category for small companies and GTS institutes.

However, in the end it was former board members, who were elected, and the board ended up looking exactly like before.

Read the press release here (in Danish).

Pictures from A Great Day for Food Innovation 2018

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