Prof. Dr. Tilo Hühn’s passion for wine started in his youth – growing up on a small farm in Germany, he was fascinated by how wine is made. He went on to train to be a winegrower and studied oenology (the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking), microbiology, and psychology.
Since 1997, Tilo has focused on process engineering as a food scientist in Switzerland. In cooperation with industrial partners, he has developed new solutions for extracting both more flavour and nutrients from various fruits, vegetables, spices, and even insects.
Why is innovation in the food and beverages industry important and what are the biggest challenges facing it?
It isn’t a question of whether to innovate or not – it is a question of how. All stakeholders and resources need to be considered in the future of food and beverage production, in order to prevent a collapse of the entire system.
One of the main challenges is finding sustainable and economical solutions for food production in order to both feed the world but also simultaneously respect nature.
What do you think is the future of the world’s biggest food & beverage brands?
Existing brands have to move quickly from a marketing-driven approach to a more holistic one. Consumers yearning for natural and simple products can only be satisfied through trust and heritage – not by commercial and superficial promises. The more consumers have direct access to information, the more brands who do not meet customers’ expectations lose value. Also, brands need to urgently adapt to the digital era.
What do you imagine the future of beverages will look like? Which trends do you think we will see in the future?
Personalized food made from organic raw material, picked fresh from the field, sustainably-produced, fairly-traded, respectfully-paid and consumed will become a reality through the possibilities the internet of things and digitalization provides.
What factors make leaders as well as brands (and their products) successful innovators?
Leaders need to be able to cope with uncertainty, expect the unexpected, and identify functional solutions. These solutions then need to be transformed into best practice in their companies – integrating new developments in customer’s tastes into the brand essence.
I’m personally inspired by cooks and curators who develop new – and revive old – recipes by crafting dishes with an eye to the visual as well as with knowledge about raw materials and their preparation.
Do you think it is important for brands to “co-create” with their consumers? And if so, what is key to consider when developing ideas, such as for the Future of Food crowdstorm?
Co-creation with the consumer is key because they consume what we produce. When developing ideas, innovators need to ignore gravity, in other words, they need to step beyond the current forces in order to find creative and functional solutions.
What made you decide to jury for the futureoffoodandbeverages.com project?
The project is an inspiring challenge which fits my passion for understanding the food and beverages landscape through interacting with others. I look forward to seeing breakthrough food and beverage ideas for the future.
Tilo Hühn is a jury member for the Future of Food & Beverages project, the world’s biggest think tank that connects food and beverage innovators and entrepreneurs, global brands, and a global interdisciplinary crowd of up to 80 000 creative professionals. Download the free success story to discover how the think tank explored how the future of food & beverages will look like.