Learnings from Food Innovation Camp 2019 in Hamburg

What is trending in the German food & beverage startup scene? What are the latest innovations and brands to watch? These and many other questions are answered every year at one of the largest food startup events in Hamburg: Food Innovation Camp.

Already 2 months ago, we attended this great exhibition, where startups can display their innovations and industry experts meet to discuss what is going on in retail, e-commerce and with regard to changing consumer behavior. For everyone who could not attend this year, we have put together our most important findings from this year´s event.

Food Innovation Camp Hamburg
Food Innovation Camp Hamburg, May 2019

1. Put the consumer first…but don´t forget the retail!

As a food & beverage company producing for the end consumer, marketing & sales efforts are often focused on the customers, but especially startups tend to forget, that their retail clients are just as important when it comes to sales success. If a product doesn´t get listed, it is really hard to scale with e-commerce only. And if a product gets listed, but doesn´t stay in the shelves because the product rotation is not good enough, then it gets even harder. If the first testing period and client experience was a bad one, the likelihood of receiving another order is really, really low.

In order to prevent this, food & beverage companies should have a clear plan of how their product innovation is going to be supported with marketing activities, either at the point of sale directly (great packaging, secondary placements, wobbler & other POS material) or in Social Media, on Google, in newsletters etc. Because only if the consumers are going to purchase the new product enough, the retail will also give it a go in the long run. And that is the ultimate success!

2. Do not launch too early!

A food & beverage product that aims at being successful in the German market or anywhere else has to be one thing first: a great product! Taste, smell, texture and appearance should be very appealing, and luckily, most companies really put a lot of effort into these important product features. Nevertheless, any food product also needs to be “a feast for the eyes”, otherwise the purchase likelihood decreases dramatically. Therefore, it is really important to get everything right from the beginning, when planning to launch in retail stores.

Packaging, secondary placement, other in-store promotion material, website and salesfolder need to be nicely designed and give the consumer a feeling of professionalism, because food products are also a lot about trust. Instead of convincing the retail with a great product and a packaging dummy that has not been produced at a large scale yet and could therefore cause delivery problems, everything should be well prepared when the first listings are discussed with decision makers. Because, as we mentioned earlier, nothing is worse than a first attempt with retail gone wrong.

Spoonful founder Katharina & investor Ralf Dümmel
SPOONFUL founder Katharina with investor Ralf Dümmel

3. Listen to feedback!

In the end, the consumer will decide which products are interesting enough and repurchased, so they can stay in the shelves for more than just a couple of weeks. But it should not be forgotten, that retailers have seen, launched and tested an incredible amount of products and they have a good sense for the potential of a new product. This doesn´t mean they will always be right, but their gut feeling and professional know-how should definitely not be underestimated.

There is nothing more valuable than a decision maker from the retail industry, giving tips on how to improve product quality and appearance, and such comments should always be taken seriously. Not only because an open dialogue also means that further negotiations are possible, and the relationship between seller and buyer can become stronger.

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