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SME entrepreneurs the lifeblood of the food sector, says former Unilever NPD expert

By Jane Byrne , 16-Dec-2011
Last updated on 16-Dec-2011 at 17:47 GMT

The difficult and rarely successful task of taking a food product all the way from idea-to-shelf, particularly in the current stagnant European market, is not deterring small start-ups or individual entrepreneurs from trying, claims an NDP expert at the recent FIE show in Paris.

FoodNavigator.com caught up with Wayne Morley, ex-technical food developer at Unilever and now Head of Food Innovation at Leatherhead Food Research, at the the trade event and heard about the challenges involved for the SME sector in launching new products in the extremely competitive UK retail environment.

Leatherhead provides a consultancy service for start-ups to assist them from concept to actualy getting supermarket shelf space and taking on the ‘big boys’ with their niche products. This scale of NPD is typically orientated towards food categories such as baby food or products for the elderly, where individuals find their own needs are not being met by the existing retail offering, said Morley.

He reckons the passion and the creativity that these start-up companies bring in terms of NPD can often be the spur for major players to innovate or actually imitate an entreprenur's niche product for a wider market. "Thus we advise SMEs on the importance of protecting their intellectual property through patents," addey Morley.

The R&D specialist recently identified the 10 golden rules for product developers to bear in mind when attempting to exploit a gap in the market. They can be read here .

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