Break things! And other ways nutrition companies can innovate

5 entrepreneurial tips from food industry experts.

News flash: You don’t need a big budget to be innovative. In fact, working with limited resources could help push you and your company to think outside of the (compostable, seed-embedded, scan-able and fully traceable) box.

That was one rather refreshing point made at the NBJ Summit in Dana Point last month, where leading influencers in the nutrition world gathered to discuss what is defining the future of innovation in the industry. The takeaway: Large budgets and massive corporate structures are no longer the foundation for innovation and success. Companies are pulling inspiration from young entrepreneurial brands that are executing innovative strategies to deliver results based around health and wellness.

Below are the top innovation tips for companies of all sizes from Carlos Barroso, SVP global R&D for Campbell’s Soup Company; John Haugen, VP of 301 Inc. and new business development for General Mills; and Liz Myslik, CEO of Fresca Brands.

1. Become the consumer you’re trying to reach

  • Adopt the lifestyle of the consumer you are pursuing in order to truly understand the problem you are trying to solve.
  • Entrepreneurs have had to do that because they are often experiencing the problem they seek to address.

2. Create constraints

  • Fight to win with limited resources, which may mean reducing the amount of resources allocated to a project even if you have them (WHAT?? Just do it.) And if you don't have them to begin with, then you're all set (kind of amazing, right?).
  • Achieve something that seems unachievable.

3. Use failure as a catalyst (and break things)

  • Develop a nimble, agile supply chain system to adopt changes along the way.
  • Remember: Nearly all concepts change from when they’re first introduced.
  • Adopt challenges as ways to succeed and win. Disrupt the disrupters.
  • EXPERIMENT (and break things).

4. Develop partnerships to maximize results

  • Tap into the expertise of others. But be sure to manage external providers that way you’d manage your own team,
  • Potential areas in which to partner:
  • Wellness
  • Technology
  • Supply-chain
  • Retail

5. Deliver a better product

  • Give consumers what they want...or better yet, what they didn’t know existed. Don't innovate just to be different. Innovate for long-term solutions to serious problems.
  • Get creative and look to the pros. Bring in flavor houses, chefs, mixologists and other R&D experts, and develop cross-functional teams.
  • Look for better flavor and higher nutritional value in food; pure ingredients and high performance in personal care.
  • In supplements, focus on product efficacy, delivery systems, purity/quality.
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