Innovating German F&B processing

Germany has been a predominant player in leading the F&B industry innovation. Ahead of his presentation at the Fi Europe 2017 Conference we interviewed Nino Terjung, Head of Product Innovation at the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL), to find out about recent developments across the F&B industry.



Can you briefly explain about DIL and the work it does?
‘With around 150 member companies from the food industry and related fields, the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL) operates as a research institute working in the areas of product development, process development and analysis. Forming a bridge between science and practice, DIL supports its partners in the innovation process.’

There is a lot of innovation within the F&B industry coming out of Germany at the moment. How does it compare to the rest of Europe?
‘I think that in the rest of Europe like France, Belgium, Austria, Netherland, Spain and England it is quite the same. The difference might be in the strength of promotion and of course in the market size.’

Why is Germany so strong in F&B innovation?
‘In Germany we have a very interesting and unique situation. We have high quality products and our consumers still focus on traditions, yet we are one of the countries with the lowest spending on food. This is only possible with innovation in the production processes. Furthermore, the generation which is now between ages of 20-35, is very open to new products and are not satisfied with the products that they find in the market. It leads to a lot of completely new products, in the mind of the people, which is then need to be translated into real products by institutes like ours.’

Can you highlight some of the companies or products that are changing the industry at the moment?
‘The whole food industry is so large that a single product doesn’t change it. If some great products are on the rise, several big players show interest. The issue is that for smaller companies the value is so tempting that most will not reject such offers. Underpinning this effect is that the most of the new food companies are founded by investors and not food technologist.’

Are there any companies to watch out for in the future?
There is some shifting in the big companies, meaning new investors such as Warren Buffet or new strategies are taking place and parts of the larger companies are being outsourced. For me it would be interesting to see what happens if Appel Alphabet Inc. or others start to enter the food market.

You will be talking about ohmic heating as part of your presentation. What is it? And what is the likely impact on the food industry?
‘Ohmic heating is heating by electricity, like what happens in a hairdryer but directly in the product. This means that the product is heated directly by the resistance of the product without any loss of time (by heat conduction) or energy. For example for one 5 kg of product (e.g. ham) the time of cooking to a core temperature of 72 °C can be reduced from 5 hours to 15 min.’

What are your predictions for the F&B industry in 5+ years’ time?
‘We will have more and more food start-ups, and they will bring us a lot of highly interesting products. The start-ups will be bought by bigger companies as soon as their size is interesting for a global player. The move to a more direct processing at the place of production will be come more popular, as a side effect the production will move closer to the consumer. I hope that we will have more food products than ever.’

Be sure to catch Nino Terjung’s presentation ‘Exciting innovations within Germany’s food and ingredients sector’ at the Fi Europe 2017 Conference during the Future of Nutrition Summit – Stream A: Shaping the future of nutrition in Europe on Monday, 27th November 14:00–17:00.