Philippe Vandenbroeck

Responsible Innovation in Food


Five major food ingredient companies were concerned that the sector’s business model of creating value from science/technology-driven innovation for the food sector was under pressure – mainly due to external factors including societal opposition to some key technologies - and EU Regulators being influenced by them. They therefore decided to jointly explore a long-term process to promote Responsible Innovation in Food – to ensure they could continue to deliver innovative solutions for meeting future consumer and customer demands.


shiftN was contacted to develop an approach for this process because of its expertise in providing clarity in complex and very sensitive issues (so called “wicked problems”) with very diverse value perceptions and this in a multi-stakeholder setting.

shiftN helped the group explore how the future of the food supply chain may evolve in response to the many different pressures and new developments and to explore how food ingredient innovation could impact the entire food supply chain.

In an initial move, based on in-depth interviews with executives of each of the companies involved, contextual and within-industry developments were mapped and synthesized in a systems map. 4 scenarios were developed based on this map, which provided thumbnail sketches of potential strategies which could be deployed by the industry to deal with the challenges articulated by the systems map. In a final workshop, shiftN together with its partner Namahn helped to bridge the gap between the high-level strategic insights that emerged from the initial, exploratory phase of the work, and an actionable plan to seek a long-term viable future for the food ingredient industry, in collaboration with other stakeholders in the food value chain.


The systems mapping analysis helped Industry to align and work towards an ambitious but realistic mid-term scenario in which the sector would play a significant role in delivering innovation in food - in a responsible manner. The approach revealed the need to pursue progressive approaches to engage the food value chain in a dialogue about responsible food innovation.

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