Digitization and innovation of the food and beverage industry in the post-pandemic era: challenges, drivers and opportunities
The global pandemic has posed urgent challenges and opportunities for food companies and their innovation processes. Collaboration and digitalization are springboards for a post-pandemic restart. We urge empirical evidence in this regard, to give answers to scholars, policy makers and managers/practitioners of food and non-food companies. As a consequence, this call for papers aim to attract papers shedding light on how F&B companies should evolve in order to survive in the future radically bustled post pandemic global scenario.
List of topic areas
- Challenges, drivers and opportunities of digital strategies for food and beverage companies
- Open innovation strategies and processes to foster food and beverage companies' growth
- Innovation ecosystems in the food and beverage industry.
- Challenges and new ways of building trust on food businesses' consumers
- Re-shaping food and beverage business models after the pandemic
- Digitalisation of business activities and processes for F&B companies' growth
- Digital platforms as a springboard for SMEs recovery in F&B industry
- New food product development adapting to new consumers' preferences
- Company capabilities facilitating food businesses innovation processes
- Technological innovation enhancing sustainability of agri-food businesses
Companion Special Issue
This special issue of British Food Journal is a companion special issue to 'Managing innovation and digital transformation post-pandemic in food and beverage companies' in European Journal of Innovation Management. The EJIM call for papers is available here. Find out more about these two complementary special issues here.
Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bfj
Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see: https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/bfj#author-guidelines
Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.
Ciro Troise, University of Turin, Italy, [email protected]
Alberto Michele Felicetti, University of Calabria, Italy, [email protected]
Paul Jones, School of Management Swansea University, Wales, [email protected]
Literature background and references for the special issue topics
Innovation and digitalization in Food & Beverage industry:
New technologies such as the Internet of things, Information communication technologies, AI, blockchain are drastically shaping the way of doing business and consumers expectations in several segments (Bresciani et al., 2018; Troise et al., 2022). The food and beverage (F&B) industry does not make an exception, but it can be considered one of the verticals that are revolutionising the most. Firms in this industry usually tend to follow an open innovation (OI) approach to remain competitive in the market (Costa et al., 2016; Bresciani, 2017; Ferraris et al., 2020). Moreover, the necessity to find alternative ways of producing and distributing food is nowadays a crucial challenge to contrast food waste and food losses happening in all the food supply chain stages (do Carmo Stangherlin and de Barcellos, 2018). The latest reports underline 931 million tonnes of food wasted yearly (close to 20% of total global production), and that 10% of global gas emissions arise from this food wasted (UNEP, 2021). In the latest years, we witnessed the development of new food sustainable business models through sharing platforms, like the success case of Too good to Go (Michelini et al., 2020), or thanks to industry 4.0 solutions (Dressler and Paunovic, 2020). These may respond to the current global scenario's urgent and more pressing challenges and threats.
Despite successful cases of innovation and its unavoidability, food businesses typically struggle to innovate products or their business models since, especially agri-food businesses, are mainly SMEs characterized by weak economic capabilities, limited R&D investments and capabilities (Scuotto et al., 2017). Moreover, despite the essentiality of the process management capability for innovation (Kafetzopoulos and Skalkos, 2018), it is culturally tricky for food business managers to alter well-established old fashioned production processes (Cillo et al., 2019). That could often become a driver of corporate tensions (Román et al., 2021). It is not a case that generally, smaller and younger food companies are more inclined to innovate (Avermaete et al., 2003). Therefore, scholars investigated how innovation can be more successful in food businesses. In this regard, Giacosa et al. (2017), investigation on food family business, reveals that tradition and innovation can coexist.
The tendency of having limited internal R&D capabilities in food businesses makes the crucial role of external knowledge sourcing and open innovation with other institutions like universities or research centers (Bigliardi and Ivo Dormio, 2009; Johnston, 2020), in terms of both new product development (Santoro et al., 2017) and for the sustainability of new start-ups in food business (Franceschelli et al., 2018). Nevertheless, inter-organisational collaborations and information gathering should be valued carefully (Ferraris et al., 2021), especially when the absorptive capacity is limited (Berchicci, 2013). In fact, food businesses in particular, characterized often by low internal R&D knowledge and low absorptive capacity, suffer more than other sectors of performances reduction when they rely too much on external sources (Bayona-Saez et al., 2017).
Looking beyond the realm of open innovation between companies and third-party institutions, scholars assert that inclusion and direct collaboration with consumers is among the most effective pathways towards breakthrough innovation (Altuna et al., 2017; Busse and Siebert, 2017). It is necessary, however, to remain cautious in publicizing innovative practices since although it is true that in an intra-company context it can bring benefits (Rahimnia and Molavi, 2020), often consumers can be resistant, perceiving a potential innovation instrumentalism, especially with regard to sustainability concerns (Heiskanen et al., 2007; Liang, 2016; Watanabe et al., 2020).
COVID-19 impact on Food & Beverage industry:
On top of the environmental challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic strongly contributed to the acceleration of the upheaval of the food business environment on different fronts. Firstly, global distribution has been and continues to be under great stress at both logistical and supply level (Torero, 2020). Secondly, institutions now prepared and almost finalized several monetary incentives, grants, and founds to enhance business recovery. As an example, the European Commission allocated an amount of 386 billion euro for the common agricultural policy (CAP) for the period 2021-2027 (European Commission, 2020). Third, the pandemic profoundly changed consumer habits and preferences (Marinković and Lazarević, 2021). A remarkable fact is that, if in the last three years, food retail has been the fastest-growing segment online, after COVID-19 pandemic impact, it drastically ramped up with a +29,6% year-on-year growth in Europe, and forecasts draw a future in which online grocery will continue to be the fastest growing vertical online in following years (Statista. Inc, 2020).
The COVID-19 pandemic somehow stimulated the food businesses and their innovation acceleration (Galanakis et al., 2021). The some powerful grocery stores such as Morrisons or Aldi were able to set up their own delivery services in record time (Pavlou and Georgiou, 2021) meanwhile other like Carrefour settled up partnerships with specialized delivery services (Temiz and Broo, 2020), but also SMEs tried made an surviving effort. Gavrila and de Lucas Ancillo (2021), analysing the new website registration domains discovered that several Spanish food businesses developed a new website. Nonetheless, there are no certainties on the degree of efficacy these ultimate countermeasures in the mid and long term.
Altuna, N., Dell’Era, C., Landoni, P. and Verganti, R. (2017), “Developing radically new meanings through the collaboration with radical circles: Slow Food as a platform for envisioning innovative meanings”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 269–290.
Avermaete, T., Viaene, J., Morgan, E.J. and Crawford, N. (2003), “Determinants of innovation in small food firms”, European Journal of Innovation Management, MCB UP Ltd, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 8–17.
Bayona-Saez, C., Cruz-Cázares, C., García-Marco, T. and Sánchez García, M. (2017), “Open innovation in the food and beverage industry”, Management Decision, Vol. 55 No. 3, pp. 526–546.
Berchicci, L. (2013), “Towards an open R&D system: Internal R&D investment, external knowledge acquisition and innovative performance”, Research Policy, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 117–127.
Bigliardi, B. and Ivo Dormio, A. (2009), “An empirical investigation of innovation determinants in food machinery enterprises”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 223–242.
Bresciani, S. (2017). Open, networked and dynamic innovation in the food and beverage industry. British Food Journal, Vol. 119 No. 11, pp. 2290-2293.
Bresciani, S., Ferraris, A., & Del Giudice, M. (2018). The management of organizational ambidexterity through alliances in a new context of analysis: Internet of Things (IoT) smart city projects. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 136, 331-338.
Busse, M. and Siebert, R. (2017), “The role of consumers in food innovation processes”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 20–43.
do Carmo Stangherlin, I. and de Barcellos, M.D. (2018), “Drivers and barriers to food waste reduction”, British Food Journal, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 120 No. 10, pp. 2364–2387.
Cillo, V., Rialti, R., Bertoldi, B. and Ciampi, F. (2019), “Knowledge management and open innovation in agri-food crowdfunding”, British Food Journal, Vol. 121, available at: https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-07-2018-0472.
Costa, A. I. A., Greco, M., Grimaldi, M., Cricelli, L., & Corvello, V. (2016). Inter-organisational innovation processes in the European food and drink industry. International Journal of Management and Enterprise Development, 15(2-3), 191-208.
Dressler, M. and Paunovic, I. (2020), “Converging and diverging business model innovation in regional intersectoral cooperation–exploring wine industry 4.0”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 1625–1652.
European Commission. (2020), “Common agricultural policy funds”, European Commission, Text, , available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/key-policies/common-ag… (accessed 21 June 2021).
Ferraris, A., Vrontis, D., Belyaeva, Z., De Bernardi, P., & Ozek, H. (2020). Innovation within the food companies: how creative partnerships may conduct to better performances?. British Food Journal. Vol. 123 No. 1, pp. 143-158.
Franceschelli, M.V., Santoro, G. and Candelo, E. (2018), “Business model innovation for sustainability: a food start-up case study”, British Food Journal, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 120 No. 10, pp. 2483–2494.
Galanakis, C.M., Rizou, M., Aldawoud, T.M.S., Ucak, I. and Rowan, N.J. (2021), “Innovations and technology disruptions in the food sector within the COVID-19 pandemic and post-lockdown era”, Trends in Food Science & Technology, Vol. 110, pp. 193–200.
Gavrila, S.G. and de Lucas Ancillo, A. (2021), “COVID-19 as an entrepreneurship, innovation, digitization and digitalization accelerator: Spanish Internet domains registration analysis”, British Food Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print, available at:https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-11-2020-1037.
Giacosa, E., Ferraris, A. and Monge, F. (2017), “How to strengthen the business model of an Italian family food business”, British Food Journal, Vol. 119 No. 11, pp. 2309–2324.
Heiskanen, E., Hyvönen, K., Niva, M., Pantzar, M., Timonen, P. and Varjonen, J. (2007), “User involvement in radical innovation: are consumers conservative?”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 489–509.
Johnston, A. (2020), “Open innovation and the formation of university–industry links in the food manufacturing and technology sector: Evidence from the UK”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 89–107.
Kafetzopoulos, D. and Skalkos, D. (2018), “An audit of innovation drivers: some empirical findings in Greek agri-food firms”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 361–382.
Liang, R.-D. (2016), “Predicting intentions to purchase organic food: the moderating effects of organic food prices”, British Food Journal, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 118 No. 1, pp. 183–199.
Marinković, V. and Lazarević, J. (2021), “Eating habits and consumer food shopping behaviour during COVID-19 virus pandemic: insights from Serbia”, British Food Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print, available at:https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-11-2020-1072.
Michelini, L., Grieco, C., Ciulli, F. and Di, L.A. (2020), “Uncovering the impact of food sharing platform business models: a theory of change approach”, British Food Journal, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 122 No. 5, pp. 1437–1462.
Pavlou, Y. and Georgiou, N. (2021), “Covid-19 Impact on Online Food Delivery Services”, Capgemini UK, 22 February, available at: https://www.capgemini.com/gb-en/2021/02/covid-19-impact-on-online-food-… (accessed 21 June 2021).
Rahimnia, F. and Molavi, H. (2020), “A model for examining the effects of communication on innovation performance: emphasis on the intermediary role of strategic decision-making speed”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 1035–1056.
Román, S., Bodenstab, S. and Sánchez-Siles, L.M. (2021), “Corporate tensions and drivers of sustainable innovation: a qualitative study in the food industry”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print, available at:https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-11-2020-0469.
Santoro, G., Vrontis, D. and Pastore, A. (2017), “External knowledge sourcing and new product development: Evidence from the Italian food and beverage industry”, British Food Journal, Emerald Publishing Limited, Vol. 119 No. 11, pp. 2373–2387.
Scuotto, V., Santoro, G., Bresciani, S. and Giudice, M.D. (2017), “Shifting intra- and inter-organizational innovation processes towards digital business: An empirical analysis of SMEs”, Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 247–255.
Statista. Inc. (2020), “eCommerce - Europe | Market Forecast”, Statista, available at: http://www.statista.com/outlook/dmo/ecommerce/europe (accessed 5 April 2021).
Troise, C., Corvello, V., Ghobadian, A., & O'Regan, N. (2022). How can SMEs successfully navigate VUCA environment: The role of agility in the digital transformation era. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 174, 121227.
Temiz, S. and Broo, D.G. (2020), “Open Innovation Initiatives to Tackle COVID-19 Crises: Imposter Open Innovation and Openness in Data”, IEEE Engineering Management Review, presented at the IEEE Engineering Management Review, Vol. 48 No. 4, pp. 46–54.
Torero, M. (2020), “Without food, there can be no exit from the pandemic”, Nature, Vol. 580 No. 7805, pp. 588–589.
UNEP. (2021), Food Waste Index Report 2021, United Nations Environment Program, Nairobi, available at: http://www.unep.org/resources/report/unep-food-waste-index-report-2021 (accessed 21 June 2021).
Watanabe, E., Alfinito, S., Curvelo, I. and Hamza, K. (2020), “Perceived value, trust and purchase intention of organic food: a study with Brazilian consumers”, British Food Journal, Vol. 122 No. 4, pp. 1070–1184.