A sustainable product ideation guide for food manufacturers

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In most food manufacturing research and design (R&D) projects, sustainability is not considered until the scalability testing or production phase, when cost reduction is the objective or when many consumers directly request it. However R&D teams are highly focused on their predetermined goals at the beginning of the process. It is therefore crucial to incorporate sustainability as a criterion at the start of the project during the ideation phase for sustainable product development. Consequently, the current approach of food manufacturing R&D teams needs to change. Sustainability needs to be incorporated at the start of a project, during the ideation phase. This report consists of two main parts, research and design.

During the research phase, literature research and many interviews have been conducted to discover the food manufacturing context in detail: the drivers and barriers for food manufacturers in developing sustainable products, a review of the current ideation activities of food manufacturers, an analysis of the possible sustainability measures that they can take to create more sustainable products, and an exploration of the trends and developments within the industry (see chapter 2 for elaboration). With the found insights, four opportunity areas are discovered (see chapter 3), and one is chosen to form a design brief (see chapter 4).

Following the guidelines from the design brief, several brainstorming sessions were conducted during the design phase, and the sustainable food product ideation guide was prototyped (see chapter 5). The guide encourages users to think creatively and frequently about sustainability throughout the entire food product development ideation phase. The guide provides value by stimulating creativity, serving as a sustainability exercise, and enabling product development teams to take concrete steps towards the creation of sustainable food products. See chapter 6 for elaboration on the ideation guide.

Then, the ideation guide was evaluated in one pilot session and three review sessions with designers, Accenture consultants and Accenture experts (see chapter 7). Whereafter, the potential use cases of the ideation guide was discussed with various experts from Accenture in chapter 8.

Finally, this report concludes with an implementation plan for the ideation guide, which is designed to encourage food manufacturers to develop more sustainable product ideas, instilling a sustainable mindset that impacts everything they do. The guide offers significant value for Accenture and its food manufacturing clients. For Accenture, the guide offers the opportunity to attract new clients and initiate early-stage conversations about sustainability projects, as well as provide a standardised workshop format with a modular toolkit that saves time and is scalable. Eventually, the digital version of the guide could be developed into Accenture’s own ideation platform for security and IP purposes. The guide provides a low threshold for food manufacturers to experience sustainable food product ideation sessions. It offers tailored workshops, new food product ideas, and concrete next research steps for the development team. Additionally, the digital version of the guide caters to remote employees and assists in integrating sustainability into their practices, helping to initiate company culture change.