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Innovation as Undoing: A FEMA Fall Meeting Preview

Posted: September 17, 2012

For the extended interview with Brush and other FEMA speakers, look for the November issue of P&F magazine.

Food science is under attack, says Marc Brush, editor in chief at Nutrition Business Journal, pointing to recent consumer and media backlash against GMOs and so-called "pink slime."

Brush, who will speak as part of the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association's fall meeting, "Horizon Watch: Ensuring the Business of Flavors," notes such controversies point to a broader dichotomy that "boils down to a nature-science thing" that pits scientific progress against consumer anxiety.

"Food science is becoming a greater and greater obstacle," he says, and as a result innovation is being re-imagined. 

The traditional enemies of innovation, bad economies and uncertain regulatory environments, have been front and center in recent years, but Brush argues that something larger is underway. Supply chain industries have traditionally been driven by innovation, he says. What’s the next new ingredient or technology? Given consumers' desire for natural, today's innovation is, as Brush puts it, "as much undoing as 'newdoing.' "

"It’s a process, not product, thing," Brush adds. "What are you doing to behave more sustainably?"

As a result, companies are moving to control greater portions of their supply chain in order to drive systemic changes to processes rather than focusing solely on new products. Amid the “unrelenting trend toward natural,” Brush concludes, industry will be compelled to rethink innovation.