Tag Archives: food

Marketing Gimmick of the Year – 2021 – Air Protein

Marketing Gimmick of the Year - 2021The winner of the 2021 award for Marketing Gimmick of the Year has to be Air Protein.

The marketing premise is that the company is creating a scalable process for creating protein from ‘thin air’ using a $32 million Series A funding round and 1960’s era NASA research.

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?

And that’s why it’s the marketing gimmick of the year.

It’s not technically untrue, but it doesn’t give the whole picture of how the protein is actually created.

According to The Times out of the U.K., the production of Air Protein begins when purified carbon dioxide is mixed in a fermenter with hydrogenotrophs (naturally occurring microbes) to produce a flour-like substance that is 80 percent protein. This protein is then mixed with other ingredients to create meat alternatives. And believe me, this takes a lot of additional work.

So “thin air” is a bit of stretch and the marketing tagline “Meat Made from Air” stretches the depiction of reality near to the breaking point. But, it doesn’t mean the technology is still not potentially amazing and transformational.

The reason is that the way plant-based proteins and other alternative proteins are made are often even less ‘natural’.

So, it will be interesting to see how the finished product of Air Protein grades out versus the titans of the alternative meat market – Beyond and Impossible – but from a marketing perspective, they are off to a strong start!

Image credit: Air Protein

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Emerging Trends in Food Technology

How Innovation is Transforming the Culinary Landscape

Emerging Trends in Food Technology

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

With the constant evolution of technology, the culinary landscape is witnessing a significant transformation. Advancements in food technology have not only revolutionized the way we prepare and consume food but have also opened doors to exciting new possibilities. From personalized nutrition to sustainable alternatives, these emerging trends are reshaping the food industry. In this thought leadership article, we will explore two compelling case studies that exemplify the transformative power of innovation in food technology.

Case Study 1: 3D Printing in Food

One of the most intriguing advancements in food technology is the application of 3D printing in culinary processes. 3D food printers have the capability to create intricate designs, personalized shapes, and textures, offering a new level of creativity and customization. A prominent case study in this field is that of Barcelona-based startup, Natural Machines. Their flagship product, Foodini, is a 3D food printer that aims to simplify meal preparation while promoting healthy eating.

With Foodini, users can create intricate dishes by layering ingredients precisely and shaping them according to their preferences. This not only enhances the presentation of the meal but also aids in portion control and nutrition monitoring. The technology enables individuals with dietary restrictions to enjoy visually appealing, customized meals, empowering them to explore various culinary possibilities.

Additionally, 3D food printing has the potential to tackle food waste by utilizing ingredients that would otherwise be discarded. By converting food scraps into edible creations, this innovative approach promotes sustainability and resource optimization.

Case Study 2: Plant-Based Alternatives

The rise of plant-based alternatives is another remarkable trend fueled by food technology innovation. Traditional animal agriculture poses significant environmental challenges, and the demand for sustainable, ethical alternatives has grown rapidly. Companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have revolutionized the food industry by developing plant-based meat substitutes that closely mimic the taste and texture of animal-derived products.

Through the application of advanced food science and biotechnology, these companies have created alternative proteins that are indistinguishable from animal meat to the average consumer. Not only do these plant-based alternatives provide a similar culinary experience, but they also significantly reduce environmental impact and resource consumption.

These innovations have disrupted the culinary landscape, transcending the perception that plant-based diets compromise taste or satisfaction. The success of these companies and the market response they have received demonstrates that consumers are increasingly open to embracing sustainable dietary choices.


Food technology is paving the way for exciting changes in the culinary landscape. The case studies of 3D food printing and plant-based alternatives clearly showcase how innovation can transform the way we prepare, consume, and think about food. With continued advancements in this field, we can expect to witness further groundbreaking developments that will reshape the food industry, promoting sustainability, health, and creativity. As individuals and businesses navigate the ever-evolving culinary landscape, it is crucial to remain at the forefront of emerging trends and embrace the transformative power of food technology.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pexels

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Re-imagining Drive Thru Restaurants – Innovation or Not

Food Locker Pickup Pizza Hut

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed our world with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and now billions of people around the world are under ‘stay at home’ orders. In many communities restaurants and bars are closed or only allowed to deliver meals or make them available as ‘to-go’ or takeaway orders.

But, even with the plethora of food delivery services in the United States and elsewhere, people still prefer drive-thru to food delivery when they choose not to dine in. But what are you to do when your restaurant isn’t configured with a drive-thru window?

One answer would be to re-imagine the drive thru and takeaway by learning from the automats of the 1930’s and 1940’s (the last one in New York City closed in 1991) and Amazon Lockers.

Food Locker Automat 1936

You can create lockers for warm food and lockers for cold food. Before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began spreading across the globe some companies were experimenting with food lockers combined with mobile ordering at ballparks:

Food Lockers with Mobile Ordering at Ballparks

And, Pizza Hut was experimenting in Hollywood with Pizza Lockers to eliminate interactions with employees (picture top of article).

One could imagine that as Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns stretch from weeks from months, and the virus lingers for the next 12-24 months, and fears of individuals linger potentially even longer, restaurants may want to re-imagine how they configure and leverage their physical space.

Is it worth redeploying an external wall of the restaurant to optimize to go or takeaway orders?

The idea isn’t that difficult for an individual restaurant to adopt as there are companies manufacturing food lockers already, and they can be combined with PIN’s to unlock them that can be delivered by email or mobile platforms and reset after each use.

During a virus outbreak (or on an ongoing basis) sanitizing wipes could be provided or if the lockers are on the street, then one employee could be staffed for delivering food from the kitchen to the lockers and then sanitizing the lockers on the outside of the restaurant.

Have you seen this type of solution growing in your part of the world?

Innovation or not?

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Value Access Example – Domino’s Steady Pizza

Helping People Extract the Value You’ve Worked So Hard to Create

I came across this great video from Domino’s Pizza Brazil that shows their new Steady Pizza concept.

It’s a perfect example of the Value Access component of my Value Framework for Innovation, and how Value Access can help you better deliver the value you’ve created for customers (literally).

The concept of the video starts with a simple question:

How do we help to reduce the chances of a delivery fail?

I love this.

The result of the concept is a piece of delivery equipment that not only helps to reduce the chances of a delivery fail, but also serves as a great marketing gimmick.

Too many people after working so hard in the Value Creation step of innovation (which in large part is invention), just stop there and think they’re done. Don’t!

So ask yourself:

Value Access — What can we do to help people access this value?

Value Translation — And even more important, you must keep in mind how you are going to translate that value for people, to help them understand how this new solution will fit into their lives AND is better than their existing solution and worth the trouble of replacing it.

Always remember:

Innovation = Value Creation (X) Value Access (X) Value Translation

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Scaling Local Food Revival with a Business Model Innovation

Business Model Innovation Taken for a Spin by Zaycon Foods

There is no doubt that people are becoming more interested in where their food came from and with meat prices rising (especially here in the United States with widespread drought in some areas) people are also becoming more concerned with the cost.

Like a blast from the past, when neighbors used to get together and buy a side of beef together and have a butcher carve it up so they could stash it in their respective freezers, Zaycon Foods has come along with a business model innovation and introduced a Farm->Truck->You food distribution system for some types of meat and produce, bypassing several layers of warehousing, truck shipment, and unnecessary waiting time.

Here is a video describing their business model innovation for a spin using chicken as an example:

But it is not just chicken that they offer at their buying events. They also offer 93/7 lean ground beef, premium bacon, ribs, hot dogs, ham, and even seasonal produce straight to the trunk of your car. The benefits of the business model innovation are numerous:

  • Lower prices
  • Fresher food (no waiting steps in the process)
  • No food waste (which is part of the reason retailer’s charge more)

Now operating in 48 states to 1,000+ locations here in the United Sates and a growing favorite of churches, and other group purchasers, neighbors are now banding together and doing a scaled down version of sharing a side of beef (or, um, chicken).

What do you think? Is this an innovation or not?

P.S. They did win the first annual Post Harvest Waste Innovation Award from The Post Harvest Project (TPHP), a nonprofit organization founded in 2012 through the support of The Clinton Global Initiative.

Source: The Seattle Times

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Food Innovation Sighting – Probiotic Chocolate

Food Innovation Sighting - Probiotic Chocolate

I came across the inspiration for this latest food innovation sighting through a London Business School announcement of their upcoming TELL Series speakers, and noticing that Nancy Cruickshank, co-Founder of MyShowcase would be speaking on May 21, 2014.

Clicking over to the web site, I noticed that one of the highlighted products was Ohso Probiotic Chocolate which Andrew Marten brands as a healthy chocolate.

“Ohso Probiotic Chocolate is, quite frankly, the best invention since sliced bread. A delicious dark Belgian chocolate, it contains over a billion friendly bacteria per mini bar. If you love dark chocolate, you will love Ohso. And it loves you back, because as well as tasting divine it promotes your wellbeing via your gut.”

Apparently chocolate helps probiotics survive the journey to the gut where they can do some good and potentially help irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sufferers.

Who knew?

So, here’s the question…

Innovation or not?

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Food Innovation Sighting – Waffle Taco

Food Innovation Sighting - Waffle TacoDo you ever see a product that makes you wonder either:

A. Why didn’t I think of that?
B. How come nobody ever thought of that before?

Well, those are the thoughts that hit me when I opened the newspaper this morning and was greeted by a surprisingly tasty looking Waffle Taco that Taco Bell is launching to anchor their new breakfast menu (formerly known as First Meal at their restaurants). Now to be honest, for over a decade (and still to this day) have felt that ascribing the restaurant label to a Taco Bell was quite generous, and always wondered why people go to Taco Bell when there are so many good Taquerias and Taco Trucks around. Sorry, Taco Bell. But recently they have surprisingly been one of the more innovative fast food players.

In a previous post – Food Innovation Sighting – Doritos Tacos – I took to blogging about their previous food innovation, the Doritos Locos Taco, which initially came in the Nacho Cheese variety and was then followed by the Cool Ranch one. Frito Lay subsequently then made the taco shells available in grocery stores. Not a bad little piece of supplier innovation if you ask me.

Now, Taco Bell is following up their Doritos Locos Taco success with the Waffle Taco.

A waffle wrapped around scrambled eggs and either sausage or bacon (with a side of maple syrup). I have to say the picture here looks pretty tasty, but of course I know it won’t look like this in reality when someone orders it (see False Advertising? and follow the link in the article).

Innovation doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t have to involve coming up with something that is really hard for others to discover, sometimes the most successful innovations are those that come from ‘land mine’ ideation, which is basically focusing the energy of your group (or company) on the following question:

What potential innovation ideas are so close to us and should be so obvious to us, that if they were a land mine, we would probably blow ourselves up because we’re not seeing them?

So, keep looking for those obvious innovations that you’re missing now and keep innovating!

P.S. I’m sure some enterprising restaurateur out there thought of the waffle taco decades ago, and that makes another point about innovation – that many flashes of brilliance and successful innovations are triggered by seeing something when you’re out in your environment (and why inspiration sits at the core of the Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation).

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Backwards Innovation

A Case Study in Accidental Innovation

Backwards Innovation - Chipotle Mexican GrillAccording to Wikipedia, Chipotle was founded twenty years ago by Steve Ells (1993). Chipotle had 16 restaurants (all in Colorado) when McDonald’s Corporation became a major investor in 1998. By the time McDonald’s fully divested itself from Chipotle in 2006, the chain had grown to over 500 locations. Today, 37,310 employees at more than 1,400 locations in 43 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., three Canadian provinces, the United Kingdom, and France (all company-owned, no franchises), help Chipotle generate an annual net income of US$278 million (2012).

Also according to Wikipedia, founder Steve Ells attended the Culinary Institute of America before becoming a line cook for Jeremiah Tower at Stars in San Francisco. It was there that Ells observed the popularity of the burritos in the Mission District taquerías. In 1993, Ells took what he learned in San Francisco and opened the first Chipotle in Denver, Colorado, in a former Dolly Madison Ice Cream Store near the University of Denver campus using an $85,000 loan from his father. Ells and his father calculated that the original restaurant would need to sell 107 burritos per day to be profitable, but after one month, it was selling over 1,000 burritos a day.

But according to Steve Ells himself in the video below, he didn’t start out to create a chain of burrito shops, but instead opened the first one as a means to generate cash to open the restaurant he dreamed of opening. So he didn’t set out to help create the growing casual dining category, he didn’t set out to be the head of a multi-billion dollar company, but he did set out with a vision to create a restaurant that would serve fast and fresh Mexican-inspired cuisine.

See the Chipotle Story – How it All Started:

See more about the Chipotle Culinary Story:

Watch One Man’s Quest for Better Tasting Pork (while released in 2011 it, according to Wikipedia, details a journey made in 1999):

And it is in this journey to understand how he can source better ingredients at scale a couple of years ago that led to the 2001 launch of their Food with Integrity mission. Some of the most recent efforts to support this mission have become more fun and more social. This includes activities like the release of a video called Back to the Start that features a Coldplay song ‘The Scientist’ sung by country music legend Willie Nelson that was made available for download with proceeds benefiting the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation and its dedication to creating a sustainable, healthful and equitable food future.

And most recently, this year they have created an App called Chipotle Scarecrow that rails against factory farming and they’ve created this movie called The Scarecrow to promote the App:

Don’t worry, all of this is leading somewhere.

It has led me to an idea that I want you to consider as you look at your innovation efforts.

It is the idea of Backwards Innovation.

What is Backwards Innovation?

It is the idea that in our quest to become ever more efficient and more effective, sometimes we go too far.

Or we pass a point from which, we can actually create innovation by going…backwards.

So today, the area of greatest opportunity for innovation in the food industry is in backwards innovation, by creating value by seeking in some ways LESS efficiency and by becoming MORE effective in DIFFERENT ways.

So, as you all continue to seek innovation, you must sometimes ask yourselves:

  • In our quest for efficiency have we gone too far in some ways, or have we reached a point where opportunities are created that might at first glance look less efficient?
  • In our quest for greater effectiveness, should we now be seeking to be more effective in different ways?
  • Have we been seeking increased technology for so long now in this area that now people almost want less technology?

These are just three backwards innovation questions you might ask yourself.

What other backwards innovation questions can you think of?

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Cookies ‘n’ Cream Oreos and Chicken Feet

Cookies n Cream Oreos

Chicken FeetNow you might be asking yourself…

What do Cookies ‘n’ Cream Oreos and chicken feet have in common?

In short, both cookies ‘n’ cream and chicken feet involve valuable delicacies that that come from what people previously thought of as waste products from the production of something that was seen as more valuable.

In the United States chicken feet used to be thought of as something that (A) we don’t eat and (B) that American chicken ranchers used to throw away. But in Asia they are a delicacy in several countries, and according to Wikipedia chicken feet sell for more money per kilogram than the chicken breast (the part here in the United States that we think of as the most valuable).

Meanwhile, Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream and now Cookies ‘n’ Cream Oreos are now both great ways for Nabisco to take sub par Oreo cookie wafers that might otherwise be thrown away and instead turn them into a valuable product.

In the same way, old fryer oil from places like KFC and McDonald’s used to cost restaurants money to dispose of and now with the demand for BioDiesel, these restaurants can now instead sell their old oil to third parties instead of paying someone to take it away!

So, you have to ask yourself as part of your innovation efforts, are there any waste products or outputs that we don’t think of as valuable that could be turned into something else valuable or that might have value to someone else?

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Kentucky ‘Fraud’ Chicken – Food Fail

Kentucky Fraud Chicken - Food FailCost Cutting Gone Mad

Every time I turn around, food continues to get less and less real.

Imagine my surprise when in a fit of weakness I turned up at my local KFC (yes, the word chicken is no longer in the name) and they simultaneously handed me honey sauce that is only 7% honey and told me that they were going to soon be offering chickens without bones as an option.

How can a chicken walk around without bones? 😉

Needless to say, that was my last visit to KFC unless I get stranded in an airport somewhere with no other option.

Is the unending quest for corporate profits in the food industry and our own quest for convenience killing us?

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but there is no doubt that chain restaurant food is getting less and less real and this is just the latest example of a company crossing the line of decency (in my opinion) in pursuit of profits.

What is your favorite food fail story?

NOTE: While not technically fraud, I bet that if you surveyed 100 people after they consumed honey sauce, that probably 80% of the people would tell you that they just ate honey, not corn syrup with a taste of honey. For what it’s worth.

Stay tuned for more high profile food fails…

P.S. Thanks to Glenn for turning me on to some Far Side humor to the boneless chicken issue.

Boneless Chicken Ranch

Image credit: Gary Larson, Just-Ask-Jill.com

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