MANCHESTER – 3rd November 2020: Last Thursday (29th October), over 200 leading representatives of the global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) community came together to celebrate the fifth edition of the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards (FMCG), as the event further established its reputation as a key meeting point for the industry.
Held virtually for the first time due to current circumstances, GICA 2020 drew a broad range of delegates, including major players such as Nestle, PepsiCo, IFF, Tesco, and Unilever, alongside start-ups and scale-ups, SMEs, retail buyers, investors and other specially-invited guests.
Once again blending inspiring and thought-provoking presentations with a celebration of the very best in product innovation, this year GICA attracted guests from as far afield as Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Angola, Australia, India, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
Commenting on the event, Gama Founder & CEO Cesar Pereira said: “Today was a proud occasion as we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards. Notwithstanding the obvious challenges, this unique gathering once again provided its value as a source of fresh inspiration, invaluable connections, and the latest insights on hot-button trends”.
New for 2020 were the Meet The Buyer and Meet The Investor initiatives, offering attendees even more ways to connect and interact, as GICA once against fulfilled a vital role as an incubator and accelerator for the industry.
Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “I’m extremely honoured to be here today and pleased that you’ve managed to hold this event in the way that you are – breaking new ground today (…). I have a huge amount of admiration for Gama in putting this together”.
John Winnard MBE, Managing Director at William Santus & Co added: “If this is the future of conferences, then it’s something to look forward to – we can get so many people from all over the world involved. Well done to Gama”.
Success stories, emerging trends and hot topics
The Gama Innovation Conference began with a series of diverse and thought-provoking presentations, as a range of industry thought leaders shared insights on emerging trends, critical factors in successful product innovation, and the opportunities and threats set to shape the future of the sector. While the impacts of Covid-19 proved an unavoidable talking point, other critical trends to emerge included mainstreaming of health and wellness concepts , the acceleration of sustainability initiatives, and the opportunities and challenges posed by radically changed shopper behaviour, especially the rise of the direct-to-consumer channel.
- Kicking off the conference, Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Federation, reflected on a turbulent year for the food and drink sector, and revealed the strategies companies were turning to in the face of unprecedented challenges.
- Following Ian, Nicci Clark, Founder & CEO at Re:Nourish, outlined the key factors in launching a health-oriented food range, emphasising the importance of standing out from the crowd through strong branding and a unique product concept.
- Next, Rabih Kamleh, Senior Vice President, Agthia Group, revealed the major trends impacting the consumer goods industry in the UAE, stressing the importance of understanding the country’s demographics and specific public health challenges, alongside responding to an ever-expanding list of consumer demands.
- Gama Editorial Director Tom Warden talked through five key trends currently shaping FMCG innovation, including the longer-term impacts of Covid-19, changing consumer taste preferences, and the drive towards more sustainable, lower-plastic packaging.
- Wrapping up the conference, Melissa Snover, Founder & CEO, REM3DY Health, discussed the future of 3D printing and its potential for personalized nutrition and custom-made pharmaceuticals.
The second half of the event was given over to celebrating key breakthroughs in the consumer goods space, with the unveiling of the winners in each category of the Gama Innovation Awards.
Recognising outstanding innovation in the FMCG space, the Gama Innovation Awards – presented in the categories of Product, Packaging, Positioning, Branding & Design, SME, Best of Britain, Health & Wellness and Best of Middle East – represented the very best innovations unearthed in the last year by Gama’s global network of in-country researchers and analysts.
As ever, award winners were decided by an international panel of prestigious judges from some of the biggest names in the industry, including Unilever, Kraft Heinz and IFF.
Silvia Ruiz, Innovation Director at Gama, said: “The Gama Innovation Awards once again shone a light on all of the best and brightest in product development from the FMCG world over the past year, and celebrated the pioneers and forward-thinkers driving innovation in their category”.
Nir Ilani, General Manager of IFF – one of the judges of GICA 2020 – added: “It’s always great to come back here every year and to see the amazing innovations – it’s really inspiring”.
The overall winners in each category were as follows:
- Product: Seara Incrivel Imitation Burger. This launch was recognised for innovative technology that is claimed to replicate the taste and texture of meat.
Commenting on the award, Tiago Toricelli of Seara Alimentos said “For us at Seara it’s an honour to receive this award for our Incrivel line – a plant-based line that contributes to our mission to ‘feed the world’ ”.
- Packaging: Doritos Stax Tortilla Chips. Judges were impressed by the use of innovative pack design to make a virtue of the tortilla chip’s classic triangular shape.
Commenting on the award, Cecile Bouheraoua of PepsiCo said: “I’d like to share this award with the R&D and global design team who have worked tirelessly for the past five years to create stackable tortilla chips with a new manufacturing process, and to design truly unique and recyclable packaging”.
- Positioning: Hero Flower Honey. The Positioning award went to Hero Flower Honey – a launch addressing concern around the impact of pesticides on honey bee populations.
Commenting on the award, Antonio Felices of Hero said: “I would like to thank the Gama team for this award. We launched this project with the aim of protecting the health of bees by developing awareness, training, and good practices within the framework of sustainable agriculture”.
- Branding & Design: Ben & Jerry’s Netflix & Chilll’d Ice Cream. This concept from Ben & Jerry’s impressed judges due to its novel tie-up with an entertainment brand.
Commenting on the award, Kerry Thorpe of Ben & Jerry’s said: “Thank you so much for the recognition. Netflix n Chilll’d was a natural partnership for Ben & Jerry’s. Definitely a fun product and one we know our fans have loved”.
- SME: Re:Nourish Soup. Re:Nourish won the SME category with a ‘heat me’ bottle recognising soup’s growing popularity as a drinkable snack.
Commenting on the award, Nicci Clark of Re:Nourish said: “We’re hugely honoured to accept this award. Re:Nourish is a health and wellness brand with an innovative bottle that is fully recyclable”.
- Health & Wellness: Metcalfe’s Popcorn with Fruit Pieces. Metcalfe’s found favour for its use of fruit to reposition popcorn as a ‘good for you’ choice.
- Best of Britain: Nescafe Gold Plant-Based Coffee. Nestle won over judges for this innovation aligning coffee mixes to the dairy-free trend.
Commenting on the award, Jack Shannon of Nestle said: “I’m incredibly excited and overwhelmed to be receiving this award on behalf of the Nescafe Gold team today. This was a first-of-its-kind for Nescafe Gold to bring a milk-alternative coffee mix to the global market.”
- Best of Middle East: Al Ain Plant Bottle. Al Ain’s Plant Bottle packaging was recognised for its use of compostable bioplastics that can withstand high summer temperatures.
The awards ceremony was closed by the Lord Mayor of the City of Manchester, who explored Manchester’s reputation as a city built on innovation.
“We look forward to welcoming the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards back to Manchester in 2021, (…) enabling the city to be a global hub for innovation and international trade in consumer goods for years to come”, The Lord Mayor concluded.
Until next year
The Gama Innovation Conference & Awards will return to Manchester in October 2021.
To find out more about the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards, please contact Silvia Ruiz at email@example.com
Gama is a global provider of business information and services headquartered in Manchester, UK, with regional operations in Dubai, UAE. Gama provides high-quality news, research, analysis and partnering services powered by our worldwide network of over 100 specialists in more than 46 countries.
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