MANCHESTER – 5th November 2021: Last Thursday (28th October), over 250 senior professionals from the global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) community came together for an afternoon of inspiring and thought-provoking presentations and a celebration of product innovation at the sixth edition of the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards (GICA).
Once again held as a virtual event due to ongoing travel constraints, GICA 2021 brought together a broad range of delegates including some of the biggest names in the industry, including PepsiCo, Nestle, Danone, Spar International, Sonae MC and Agthia Group alongside dynamic start-ups and scale-ups, industry experts, scale-ups, SMEs, retailers, investors and other specially-invited guests.
Attendees from as far afield as Australia, Spain, Brazil, the United States, Colombia, India and the United Arab Emirates ensured the latest edition of this unique gathering of the FMCG community hosted in Manchester was, as ever, a truly global affair.
Commenting on the event, Gama Founder and CEO Cesar Pereira said: “We were delighted to again be able to welcome such a broad range of industry thought leaders and international guests to this exclusive gathering for the FMCG community. The Gama Innovation Conference & Awards continues to cement its reputation as a valuable source of inspiration and a platform for relationship-building, as well as providing a fresh perspective on key consumer trends”.
The 2021 edition also saw the return of 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 (…). I have a huge amount of admiration for Gama in putting this together”.
Hot topics and fresh ideas
The Gama Innovation Conference welcomed a diverse line up of industry thought leaders to share their insights on the nature of successful innovation, the key issues affecting FMCG companies, and the emerging trends, opportunities and threats set to shape the future of the sector. Recurrent themes included the way the pandemic had re-shaped consumer mentality, behaviour and priorities, not least in the form of a renewed focus on health and wellbeing, changed shopping habits, and expectations that the industry will play an active role in addressing climate change and other sustainability concerns.
- Delivering the first address, Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Federation, emphasised both the challenges and opportunities facing food and drink brands and retailers, especially in light of Brexit and the pandemic, touching on subjects ranging from new global trading opportunities to the rise of rapid grocery delivery.
- Following Ian, Cris Arcangeli, Chief Executive Officer, Beauty’in, gave an insight into key success factors in building a health and wellness brand, noting the importance of setting priorities, planning and execution alongside networking and teamwork.
- Next, Jelena Agbaba, speaking on behalf of Dr. Ahmed El Tigani, Chief Executive Officer, Al Rawabi, talked through leading trends in the food and drinks sector in the UAE, underlining how the region served as a melting pot for global cuisines, as well as the increasing importance of functional benefits.
- The Planting Hope Co Chief Executive Officer Julia Stamberger spoke next, emphasising the growing pressure on brands to deliver in terms of functionality, sustainability and transparency, as well as the crucial role women play in the FMCG sphere both as entrepreneurs and consumers.
- Following Julia, Gama Editorial Director Tom Warden talked through five key trends currently shaping FMCG innovation, including a new focus on preventative health, an emphasis on lower-carbohydrate and higher protein diets, and the growing prominence of purpose-led brands.
- Wrapping up the conference, Jennie Franceschi, Director, True Fresh Australia, gave an overview of the food waste challenge, underscoring the need for circular economy solutions that also provide a revenue stream for producers.
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 Beam Suntory, Kraft Heinz, Coty and PepsiCo.
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. I would like to congratulate all of our finalists who have sought to drive change and progress across the consumer goods industry in the past year”.
The overall winners in each category were as follows:
- Product: Shilpa’s Green T Film (India). This green tea film was recognised for bringing an innovative format to the hot drinks sector. Award presented by Ian Wright CBE, Food & Drink Federation.
Commenting on the award, Pramod Pandey of Shilpa Medicare said: “I would like to thank Gama and the entire team for giving me this prestigious award. Shilpa Green T Film is much more than your average tea – it is a wholly organic dosage form that delivers a sized amount of 120mg green tea extract every single time”.
- Packaging: Deft Cleaning Spray (UK). Deft cleaning spray won over judges with new spray technology to address arthritic pain. Award presented by Dr. Rabih Kamleh, Agthia Group.
Commenting on the award, Michael Pritchard MBE of Pritchard Spray Technology said: “I’m delighted to accept this award. Innovation is at the heart of our business. We won this award in part for innovating in a space of unrepresented shoppers – the arthritis and assisted living community”.
- Positioning: Serenity Kids Toddler Puree (USA). These toddler pouches impressed the panel with their ethics-driven, meat-based formulations. Award presented by Angels Solans, Beam Suntory.
Commenting on the award, Joe Carr of Serenity Kids said: “Such a huge privilege to be here. We were clear the nutritional data said not only were animal products key for babies, but that meat and animal products were some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet”.
- Branding & Design: Modern Baker Superloaf Smart Bread (UK). Superloaf caught the attention of the judges with its novel branding and unique plant-based recipe. Award presented by Gavin Page, Manchester Printers Group.
Commenting on the award, Leo Campbell of Modern Baker said: “Thank you to everyone who voted. I think we’re at a moment in the food and drink industry where we’re waking up to the fact that need to move towards healthier foods. Innovation shouldn’t be about novelty, it should be about healthy”.
- SME: Earnest Eats Snacking Avocado (USA). This novel launch won the SME award by marketing seasoned, dried avocado as a healthy snack. Award presented by Mithun Appaiah, Innovative Foods – Sumeru.
Commenting on the award, Andrew Aussie of Earnest Eats said: “We could not be more excited about the Gama Innovation Award. Everything we do is about positive vibes and earnest intent. This snack is slices of avocado flash-dried with lime juice and sea salt, and that’s it.”
- Health & Wellness: Jumel Jam with Sweeteners and Spirulina (Spain). Jumel’s launch was recognised for bringing the health benefits of spirulina to the jam category. Award presented by Duarte Bué Alves, Consul General of Portugal.
Commenting on the award, Omar Benaïssa of Jumel said: “For me it’s a great pleasure to accept the award on behalf of all the Jumel family. To us innovation represents a path to target a more demanding public looking for functional products and healthy foods”.
- Best of Britain: John West Kids Tuna Bites (UK). The repositioning of tuna as an after-school snack saw this launch crowned Best of Britain. Award presented by The Lord Mayor, City of Manchester.
Commenting on the award, Natasha Ginty of John West said: “A huge thank you to Gama and all the judges. It’s really great to get the recognition at this point as we expand our footprint from being a traditional canned goods manufacturer into the area of ambient ready meals”.
- Best of Britain: Kiri Greek Style Cubed Cheese (UAE). The distinctive format of this “greek-style” cheese saw it named best Middle East innovation of the year. Award presented by Cesar Pereira, Gama.
Commenting on the award, Coline Tatibouet of Bel Middle East said: “Thanks a lot to the Gama team. This innovation highlights the mission we have at Bel to champion healthy and responsible food for all.”
- 2021 also saw the inaugural Compass award presented to Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Federation (UK), recognising his passionate advocacy for the industry over many years, both in the UK and internationally.
Accepting the award, Ian Wright CBE commented: “Thank you very much for this remarkable and extremely surprising award. Food and drink is the single most interesting and rewarding, most critical manufacturing industry on the planet. It’s now very much the case that food is part of the UK national conversation”.
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 2022, (…) 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 2022.
To find out more about the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards, please contact Silvia Ruiz at firstname.lastname@example.org
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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