Food Tech and Incubators Are All The Rage



Food technology has had one of the largest impacts on the foodservice industry since social media.

In this episode, Host Bill Bender unpacks with the panelists what exactly innovation in the foodservice industry means and how it can either improve or hamper the growth of the industry.

Dale Easdon, CEO of Snap Kitchen, gauges innovation for startups especially, as a critical need. Easdon explains that consumers are demanding innovation and creativity, and to stay afloat, providing that is important.

“I write to my customers every month. My team are tracking customer feedback, and we listen to what it is that they’re looking for,” said Easdon.

CEO of The Hatchery Chicago, Natalie Shmulik, has a passion for innovation that stemmed from her vast experience as a specialty consultant and brand strategist for some of the largest supermarkets and brand new tea concepts.

Recently featured in Forbes, Shmulik now runs The Hatchery– Chicago’s premier food business incubator. With a constant influx of brands coming in for her classes, Shmulik can tell when a brand is on to the next big thing.

“I think the best forms of innovations are truly meeting a demand and a need in the industry...Its when we’re truly solving a problem whether it be allergens or an intolerance to food, or trying to better meet demands for convenience and better understanding your customer and what their specific needs are,” said Shmulik.

IFMA Board Member and VP Global Head of Digital Innovation Marketing for Nestlé, Mark Brodeur agrees.

Brodeur leads Nestlé’s Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost, whose goal is to build new and potentially breakthrough digitally-enabled services and business models to enhance consumers’ lives.

“It’s very much about focusing first on what do the consumers need, what do the consumers want, and ultimately, what’re the solutions that ultimately are gonna enhance consumers’ lives,” Brodeur said. “Fundamentally if technology can help improve the convenience [by] which a consumer can get a product...and importantly if it can help personalize the experience that they have...and they can do that in increasingly efficient and more importantly flavorful way, all the better.”

As food trends like artisanal products, sustainability, and plant-based diets continue to grow, consumers are creating all sorts of new demand. The panelists dig deeper into where they see food technology and company innovations in the future.

One major tool to predict these trends is data.

“We have so much more data. It’s so much richer than what it has ever been. But it’s a question of how to use that data. How do you apply that data, and how can that data be used to ultimately enhance consumers’ lives,” said Brodeur.

Data is king for technology innovations. Being able to see what it is specifically that consumers want, need, are spending, etc. allows companies to be able to fulfill gaps in the industry.

Easdon uses his company Snap Kitchen as an example of this. When first opened in 2010, the company predominantly focused on the four-walls principles of retail; producing fresh food every night to fill the store with the freshest product the next morning.

Now, two years in the making, Snap Kitchen has transformed its business model by introducing an app to launch a meal plan set for consumers. The app has allowed them to gain an additional 30 percent in revenue specifically from the digital stream, and provide its consumers with fresh and healthy meal plan options that are convenient.

Is this a fad or a complete shift in the model of how food innovation will occur in the future? Take a listen for more insights on how technology is innovating how we meet consumers’ needs.

Check out more content here on Foodable+ or on our On-Demand page.