The academic review paper, published in Trends in Food Science & Technology, takes an in depth look at how information can be disseminated within large food companies, noting that in order to increase the new product development (NPD) success for novel food products, it is crucial to understand how information can be best spread within a company structure.
Led by Lina Fogt Jacobsen from Aarhus University in Denmark, the literature review concentrates on factors influencing internal communication between market and technology experts within the NPD process from a food industry point of view.
“By focussing on optimising organisational structure, team composition, management support, and knowledge management, food companies can enhance internal communication between market and technology functions during the NPD process,” suggests the team.
Indeed, the research team suggests that their findings from scientific research can be translated to a set of implications for the food industry.
“Food companies are encouraged to integrate technology and market information, especially in the opportunity phase and to some extent during the development phase,” wrote the team. “Furthermore, the level of internal communication should increase with the radicalness of the product to be developed.”
Structure and process
In their study, Jacobsen and colleagues provide practical implications for improving internal communication in food companies and identifies knowledge gaps. They noted that ‘a significant percentage’ of food products fail in the market, and that such failings cause high costs for the food companies.
“Although much research has emphasised the necessity of integrating ‘the voice of the consumer’ in NPD by focussing on external communication between consumers and companies, consumer information must not only be acquired, but also disseminated and applied within the company, calling attention to the importance of internal communication,” said the team - who noted that the issue of internal communication “has only scarcely been addressed in research conducted in the food industry.”
According to the authors, the level of communication needed depends on:
- the level of external uncertainty,
- the level of internal (technological) uncertainty characterising the innovation strategy (radical vs. incremental), and
- the specific phase of the NPD.
The team also added that companies must be able to quickly adapt to changing consumer and competitor trends which requires a higher level of internal communication.
“The food industry is currently primarily characterised by incremental innovation, but in order to establish more radical innovation increasing internal communication should be emphasised accordingly,” said Jacobsen and colleagues.
Source: Trends in Food Science & Technology
Volume 37, Issue 2, Pages 106–114, doi: 10.1016/j.tifs.2014.03.005
“Improving internal communication between marketing and technology functions for successful new food product development”
Authors: Lina Fogt Jacobsen, et al