Innovation Barometer 2024

The soft drinks market also thrives on new impulses and a variety of flavors. (Image: Berentzen-Gruppe AG)

According to a survey conducted by Aktionsforum Glasverpackung among selected food and beverage bottling companies, 2024 is set to be a highly innovative year. 42 percent of survey participants want to launch more product innovations on the market than in previous years. An optimistic result!

The Product Innovation in Glass (PiG) – the award from Aktionsforum Glasverpackung, which is presented once a year as part of the Trend Day Glass industry event – has been in existence since 2014. A large number of companies with a total of several hundred products packaged in glass have competed for the highly coveted trophy in the form of a glass Möbius strip.

“We have always been able to tell from the number and type of applications for our now well-established industry award what the economic situation and mood is like. Given the current economic forecasts for 2024, it is all the more pleasing that, according to the survey, the mood for innovation appears to be much stronger in 2024.”

Dorothée Richardt, Head of Press and Public Relations at the German Glass Industry Association and spokesperson for Aktionsforum Glasverpackung

Product innovations have high to very high relevance

In order to find out more about the mood for innovation in the food and beverage packaging industry, Aktionsforum Glasverpackung launched a non-representative survey at the beginning of the year among all companies that have applied for product innovation in glass in the past. Eleven percent of the companies surveyed stated that they had not introduced any innovations in 2023. In contrast, 62 percent of survey participants said they had launched between one and five product innovations on the market in the past year – despite numerous crises. Looking at the survey results, however, this appears to be less than in previous years: around 45 percent of respondents have completely or partially suspended or postponed the development of new products or market launches in the past two years.

However, for almost 80 percent of the responding companies, product innovations are of very high to high relevance. This is also the case for the Flensburger brand, as Head of Marketing Stephan Helms explains: “Innovations were, are and will always be highly relevant for a successful company like Flensburger Brauerei. The difference to the past is that it is becoming more complex and the speed is increasing. Industrialization 4.0, artificial intelligence, cost pressure, sustainable management, changing consumer trends – all of this requires a constant spirit of innovation in all areas of a company.” This shows that new products are still an integral part of the food industry.

New varieties, products and packaging

Score points with new pack sizes and eye-catching presentation.
(Image: Cofi GmbH & Co. KG)

According to the majority of respondents, it takes around one year from the innovation idea to market launch. However, it can also be quicker, as some comments show. The survey also looked at the variety of innovations in companies. The majority of product innovations (81 percent) are new varieties and variants, as shown by the Haus Rabenhorst products “Immunkraft” and “Basen-Balance”, for example. Completely new products and brands took second place among the innovations with 58 percent, followed by modified recipes with 42 percent. For 33 percent of respondents, the innovation consisted of new packaging or pack sizes. This was also the case for COFI LOCO with its mini-bottle for coffee beans with varied, colorful labels.

In the past, for example, KĂĽhne’s “Made for Meat” barbecue sauces (winner 2016) were among the outstanding innovations of recent years thanks to their striking, unusual design. From the perspective of the entire PiG jury, the GLĂśCK fruit spreads from Friedrich Göbber GmbH, which won an award in 2017 and also won the anniversary prize for product innovation in glass on the occasion of the PiG’s tenth anniversary in 2023, are also making innovation history. The very high-quality, crystalline-looking decorative bottle of Freixenet Prosecco D.O.C. (Henkell Freixenet) also set completely new accents in bottle design.

Tapping growth potential through innovation

Oliver Schwegmann, CEO of the Berentzen Group, also confirms that innovations play a major role in the food and beverage world and are an important growth driver. “The market for liqueurs in particular thrives on new impulses and a variety of flavors. The same applies to the very dynamic soft drinks market,” he explains.

“Even in the private label spirits sector, innovation is more important than ever before.”
Oliver Schwegmann, CEO of the Berentzen Group
(Image: Berentzen-Gruppe AG)

“At Berentzen, we don’t just want to react to current market conditions but actively drive the markets forward and thus secure a competitive advantage. To achieve this, our innovation pipeline must be always well filled.” According to CEO Schwegmann, the Berentzen Group is one of the top innovators in the German beverage market. “In our corporate strategy ‘Building Berentzen 2028’, innovations are even more important for all our divisions and three top brands Mio Mio, Berentzen and Puschkin than was previously the case,” says the Berentzen CEO.

Good mood for innovation in the bottling industry

While the post-corona years led to a decline in innovation for 30 percent of the responding companies, the rate of innovation is rising noticeably this year. 42 percent of survey participants are planning more product innovations in 2024 compared to the previous year or previous years. Almost 70 percent would describe the mood in their company this year as “innovative”. This is demonstrated, among other things, by Katlenburger Kellerei with its “NanoFizz”, which it claims is Europe’s first AI-generated ready-to-drink cocktail. Only 24 percent are cautious and cautious when it comes to innovation in 2024.

According to the Katlenburg winery, Europe’s first AI-generated ready-to-drink cocktail.
(Image: Kaltenburg GmbH & Co. KG)

“I am pleased that the food and beverage bottling industry is looking to the future with more optimism again, despite the certainly not easy conditions. Crises are bad for the innovation climate and block innovation activities. Economic uncertainty, corona, raw material prices, energy costs and inflation have caused 45 percent, or almost half of the company representatives who responded, to completely or partially suspend the development of product innovations in recent years. Given the improved mood, we hope to see many exciting new products in 2024!”

Dorothée Richardt

Coveted award for the bottling industry

Since 2014, numerous products from the food and beverage industry have been awarded the Product Innovation in Glass prize. The award winners range from innovative start-ups and traditional family-run companies to firmly established top dogs in the industry. Aktionsforum Glasverpackung presents the award in three categories. In two of them, an independent jury of experts will determine the nominees and winners after the end of the submission phase. The winner in the third category, “Public’s Favorite”, will be chosen by the participating representatives from the bottling industry and the trade at the industry event Trendtag Glas. The free application for this year – even with multiple submissions per company – is still possible until May 31, 2024.