French agri-food innovation performing well

10-06-2015
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French agri-food innovation is performing well. This is demonstrated by the abundance and variety of products singled out by the judges at the 2014 SIAL Innovation Awards.

French agri-food innovation is performing well. This is demonstrated by the abundance and variety of products singled out by the judges at the 2014 SIAL Innovation Awards – held in Paris from October 16th to 20th, 2014 – presented in recognition of an original taste or packaging, a new manufacturing process or an innovative concept. A total of 15 products were awarded at this year’s event – and 20% were French. Winners included: a kit for grow-your-own mushrooms in a cardboard box, a low-fat fruit yoghurt in which the animal fats have been replaced by olive oil, and a ready meal presented in a box holding the sauce in the lid.

Lucie Bolzec, food designer

Lucie Bolzec, food designer

Innovate while remaining reassuring

Lucie Bolzec, an independent food designer with a degree from the Ecole de Design in Nantes, lives by this rule on a daily basis. “There are so many French agri-food companies that innovation is vital for them to stand out from their competitors ,” she observes. “However, there is a major constraint they need to take into account – consumer acceptance. In France, unlike in the United States or the United Kingdom, consumers find it hard to accept disruptive innovations and industrialization in relation to foodstuffs. More subtle solutions are therefore required, meaning, to some extent, innovating while remaining reassuring.

What will we be eating in five years? Or 15 years?

On the look-out for future trends, Lucie Bolzec identifies two main prospects: “If the economic crisis persists, consumers will continue seeking ‘comfort’ products which give them a little bit of luxury on a daily basis, ” she says. “These may be sugary foods, as well as gourmet foods, particularly with exotic tastes.  The ‘food on the go’ trend is likely to continue, with consumers wanting to be able to eat a complete balanced meal rapidly, wherever and whenever they want .” That is the five-year outlook. What about the longer term? “Studies indicate that we could return to healthy living foods such as seaweed, mushrooms and roots ,” predicts Lucie Bolzec.

Marine plants on the menu

Will the sea be providing our choice snacks in coming years? It seems likely. Seaweed spaghetti sold in a bucket of seawater won the Seafood Product Award at SIAL. Savéol also now grows and sells a range of marine plants including salicornia, sea aster and sapphire. Finally, Lucie Bolzec recently played an active role in developing a soup of dried vegetables and seaweed, packaged in an alginate capsule. Its originality is that the capsule dissolves on contact with hot water. The sea certainly appears to be bubbling with promising ideas.