Pro Tip: Here are six ways in which companies can use innovation to keep their competitive edge.

As the baking and snack markets become more competitive, creating disruptive innovation is crucial for brands to differentiate themselves. Disruptive innovation entails introducing new products, processes or business models that fundamentally alter consumer perception of a particular category or industry.

Without innovation, businesses run the risk of becoming stagnant and losing their competitive edge. By constantly pushing the boundaries, businesses can keep up with changing consumer demands, stay ahead of the competition and ultimately grow their market share.

Here are six tips for bakers, product developers and marketing teams to achieve disruptive innovation in the baking and snack industry:

  1. Think creatively: Disruptive innovation often arises from thinking outside the box. To create something truly unique, bakers and product developers should consider unconventional ingredients such as heritage flours or insects and explore new flavors and formats.
  2. Embrace technology: Leveraging technology can be a powerful tool for driving disruptive innovation. For instance, using 3D printing to create new shapes and forms, or incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize production processes can enhance creativity and efficiency.
  3. Focus on health and wellness: Consumers' growing concern for health and wellness is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. To cater to this demand, bakers and product developers can create products that not only taste great but also offer functional benefits by incorporating ingredients like probiotics, collagen or plant-based proteins.
  4. Collaborate with other industries and consultants: Partnering with companies from other industries can lead to disruptive innovation. Collaborating with a consulting company to develop new products or smart packaging solutions, or teaming up with a fashion brand to create limited-edition packaging can help attract new customers.
  5. Stay ahead of the trends: To create disruptive innovation, it's important to stay on top of trends and emerging consumer preferences. This means keeping an eye on social media, attending industry events and staying up to date on the latest market research to gain insights that can inform the creation of products that resonate with consumers.
  6. Innovate the bread-making process: The process of making bread has remained relatively unchanged for centuries, but there are ways to innovate and create something truly unique. Consider experimenting with new fermentation techniques, such as using a sourdough starter or incorporating different yeasts. You can also try using different baking methods, such as baking in a wood-fired oven or using a Dutch oven to create a crusty exterior. Another way to innovate the bread-making process is by incorporating different grains or flours, such as rye or spelt, to create unique textures and flavors. By experimenting with the bread-making process, you can create a product that stands out from traditional bread and appeals to consumers looking for something different. Moreover, incorporating "better for you" ingredients such as whole grain or ancient grain flours, natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, and healthy fats like avocado or coconut oil can help create products that cater to specific dietary needs or preferences, such as gluten-free, keto, dairy-free or vegan options.

Disruptive innovation is critical to success in the baking and snack markets. By thinking creatively, leveraging technology, focusing on health and wellness, collaborating with other industries, and staying ahead of trends, bakers and product developers can create innovative products that set them apart from their competitors.

Richard Charpentier is a classically trained French baker, CMB, holds a degree in baking science from Kansas State University, and is owner and chief executive officer of Baking Innovation. Connect with him on LinkedIn.