International Talents in Food Innovation and Product Design

The FIPDes Day, held on 5 September at AgroParisTech, had the theme International talents in Food Innovation and Product Design. And it was truly an international event, with keynote speakers from France, South Korea, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil and Sweden, and top-level students from all over the globe. The event was a unique opportunity for the participants from the Food and Packaging industry to meet their future employees – the FIPDes graduates and students – and the academic staff from the four FIPDes nodes.

The FIPDes day was divided into four sessions according to the three programme specializations in France, Italy and Sweden, and the second semester modules in Ireland. All sessions included much appreciated flash presentations from the FIPDes graduates about their master’s theses.

The first session was Food Design and Engineering: multi-scale approaches towards product innovation. As keynotes, Professors Camille Michon from AgroParisTech-UMR Genial and Weon-Sun Shin from Hanyang University gave valuable insights into tailored food development/sensory perception and Asian perspectives to food innovation, respectively. According to Professor Shin, the food manufacturers of today need to take into account the consuming trends of convenience, emotional consuming and active participation, and also to be prepared to harmonize and balance development and sustainability. In Asia, a typical example is the introduction of ready-cooked rice, adapted to the single unit family with its increased demand for convenient, one-portion size meals, all packed in tiny and value-promoting packages.

From the media we all know that coffee might have health-promoting effects. At the FIPDes day, we got a very good insight in the cutting-edge research in this area by Dr. Luciano Navarini from Illy Caffé. He was the first keynote speaker in the second session called Food Design and Health insights: new challenges for functional foods. Dr. Navarini showed that coffee’s health effects go beyond caffeine, the well-known free-radical scavenger. Coffee beans, we were told, are composed of more than 1500 chemical compounds, of which many remains to be studied. As compared to other food, coffee is the major contributor to the dietary intake of antioxidants, more that wine and more than cocoa. The second keynote in this session was given by Anita Linneman from Wageningen University, whose talk about laddering, consumer profiles and consumer’s perceptions of food lead to many questions from the audience.

After the second session, a combined lunch and poster session was held, where FIPDes graduates from the first cohort presented their master’s thesis for all people interested.

The afternoon’s activities started with a Brazilian perspective on innovation from Prof. José Alcides Gobbo Jr. from São Paulo State University - UNESP. As the first keynote speaker in the session Food Packaging Design: Moving beyond a single discipline, he emphasized the need of explorative, exploitative and transformation networks for being innovative. As an example, he described the movement Bossa nova cuisine, and the exciting case of the chef Alex Atala. In his very thoughtful speech, Prof. Gobbo explained to the audience how Mr Atala learnt cooking techniques in Italy and France, but instead of copying the European dishes, he moved back to Brazil to apply his skills on Brazilian ingredients. Mr Atala’s personal exploration network even expanded into the rainforest, where the native Baré tribe introduced him to eating ants. The second keynote in this third session was from the senior material design specialist Thorbjörn Andersson from Tetra Pak, who gave the students a word of wisdom on the use of biopolymers for sustainable liquid packaging.

The FIPDes day’s last session was Food Innovation and product design: bridging culinary creativity and sustainable innovation. Here, Dr. Béatrice de Reynal from Nutrimarking gave an interesting speech on the European perspective to food innovation. This was followed by inspiring and energizing presentations by the FIPDes students. First, the cohort 2 students presented food prototypes made during their studies in Ireland, and then the FIPDes graduates from cohort 1 talked about their Food and Packaging Innovation Projects on the themes Sustainable fast food and Feeding the global population.

The FIPDes day ended with cocktails and the last poster session – a great end to a great day!

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Pictures and text by Erik Andersson

- Updated October 2015 -