Hungry? There's an App for that

Jackie Mitchell reports on technological food innovations unveiled at the International Food and Drink Event in London

The mobile App for Domino’s Pizzas now accounts for 57% of orders, says Gavin Rothwell, retail analysis manager, IGD , at the International Food Exhibition (IFE 2013) taking place at London’s ExCel this week.

Rothwell said this was a good example of how mobile phones have added new innovation to the sector. “Loyalty cards are going mobile and time-bound offers on the mobile can bring in customers,” he added.

For example Meat Pack, a sports shop in Guatemala, tracks consumers via their mobiles. As soon as they enter the shopping mall, a special offer is sent via mobile to get them to visit the store. Similarly at Puma in Mexico, customers are sent an offer via mobile saying that the quicker they get to the store, the bigger the discount.

McDonalds promotes its McSundae Melt on mobiles by showing a picture of ice cream melting. If they manage to reach the restaurant before the ice melts, they receive a free one.

‘Time of day merchandising’ was another new innovation. “Stores create a different instore environment for various times of day by adjusting the light and music, for example,” Rothwell said. “At Duane Reade in the USA, customers are welcomed to the store by a virtual person who greets them.”

‘Mobile wallets’ was another new trend with people using their mobile to pay for a bill, while placing orders via Twitter was another development, as seen with American Express.

As consumers are under financial pressure, there has been a discount revolution with stores like Coles in Australia offering petrol money-off vouchers, with more consumers using discounts than ever before, he said.

“Humanising brands to build trust and loyalty is another trend,” he said. For example, McDonald’s in Canada invites customers to ask questions on the web and interact with social media. “They are opening themselves up to the consumer,” he said.

Supermarkets are introducing foodservice outlets so they become more of a leisure destination. Edeka in Germany has five different foodservice outlets in the store, while in the UK Tesco owns 49% of the Harris and Hoole independent coffee chain and more recently, acquired Giraffe the family restaurant group.

At IFE, Mintel displayed a selection of global innovative products and David Jago, Director of Innovation & Insight,  explained why they had been picked. “Real breakthrough in innovation is rare – most products are adaptations of what we’ve seen,” he said.

These included sugar free gum from Orion Food, China in a tub with a moveable bottom and McVitie’s breakfast biscuit, from Ireland, made of porridge oats. From the USA, Kellogg’s Pop Tart Oatmeal Delights made from wholegrain and baked with real fruit and the “Mexican Savory” from American chef Paul Wenner, inventor of the Gardenburger veggie patty. This is a culinary blend of vegetables, wholegrains, seeds and nuts – like a veggie burger in a bar format. Innovation in a staple product was highlighted from Heinz Culinair, France – culinary ketchup with curry and lemon.

Vivien Paille, France, illustrated the importance of provenance with its upmarket limited edition 1kg pack of Carmargue Rice – rice from the Camargue region of France.

On the drinks side, fruit nectar from Nectars de Bourgogne, France, made with apricots grown from the Rhone Valley, “highlighting a degree of localness,” added Jago. Mansome from TC Pharmaceutical from Thailand is a still juice drink containing collagen aimed at men. Jago pinpointed Zuegg juice as it’s a mix of blackcurrant and black carrot juice, an unusual ingredient, accounting for 20% of content. An example of clever packaging was Duet from South Korea – two different juices in one bottle, but in two separate containers with individual lids.

At the Japanese Pavilion, visitors could taste a variety of sake at the bar and watch Japanese chefs such as Yoishiunori Ishii demonstrate how to make sashimi and miso soup.

Elsewhere in the show, Pidy UK  launched its colourful pastry Veggie Cups with petal-shaped edges containing 50% less fat than standard pastry, in Beetroot, Carrot, Spinach and Celeriac. Visitors to the Plusfood stand  sampled its new Marrakesh Chicken Strips coated with whole and ground cumin and Crunchy Thai Chicken Strips with a coating of garlic, curry, chilli and lemongrass.

The growth in the ‘free from’ food sector was much in evidence at the show, with new companies showcasing food aimed at consumers with special dietary needs. In the USA Pavilion, Oskri launched a collection of gluten free and dairy free snack bars Irish company BFree Foods launched its collection of wheat, dairy, soy, egg, gluten-free wraps and breads, while Venice Bakery  attracted a steady stream of visitors to sample its gluten and dairy free pizza bases.

Jackie Mitchell 


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