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Innovation Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<12>> Total issues:20

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July 04, 2016, to January 16, 2017

Online Grocery Deliverer Fulfills Orders Using Advanced Warehousing, Robotics

British online grocery delivery firm Ocado is applying an array of advanced technologies to speed grocery purchases to consumer homes. The company maintains a 350,000 square-foot warehouse near Birmingham that beats Amazon at automated order fulfillment. Most of the 48,000 lines of products it sells are perishable, many chilled or frozen. The complex, time-sensitive optimization challenge is handled by sophisticated technologies like swarm robotics – teams of robots that cooperate to find, lift and grab products from shelves – as well as autonomous delivery vehicles, and machine-learned preferences. The company is expanding its warehousing and robotics capabilities to be able to handle and deliver more products even faster in the future.

Kérastase And Withings Unveil Smart Hairbrush At CES

At the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, professional hair care brand Kérastase, together with connected health company Withings and L’Oréal’s Research and Innovation Technology Incubator, unveiled its new smart hairbrush - the Kérastase Hair Coach Powered by Withings. Fitted with advanced sensors and incorporating L’Oréal’s signal analysis algorithms, which score hair quality and track the impact of hair care routines, the hairbrush received this year’s International CES Innovation Award. Sensors capture sounds, the force applied when brushing, brushing patterns and the number of brush strokes, and whether the hair is wet or dry. The collected data are sent to the app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to a dedicated mobile app. Using external data, such as weather conditions, the app tracks the way the user cares for her hair and provides personalized tips and Kérastase product recommendations. It will be available around mid-2017 at select Kérastase hair salons, the brand’s website and through Withings’ online sales and distribution channels, for below $200.

Amazon Fulfillment Services Reports Significant Growth In 2016

Online retailer Amazon said it delivered more than two billion packages to 185 countries for sellers, brand owners and entrepreneurs in 2016 under its Fulfillment by Amazon program. The company said worldwide FBA shipments grew 50 percent during the holiday season. Amazon Prime members contributed significantly to the success of the program, ordering millions of items from sellers in the Seller Fulfilled Prime program that offers free two- or next-day shipping. Sellers worldwide using the FBA service grew more than 70 percent, while shipments grew 80 percent.

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June 20, 2016, to July 04, 2016

Clever Technologies Turn Food Waste Into Eco-Fashion

Turning food waste into fashion isn’t going to solve the huge global leftover food problem. But it will help a little, while teaching consumers about the importance of recycling, upcycling, and reusing food. Among the basic food-based clothing innovations being reported are: coffee grounds turned into fabric (Ecoalf’s process turns processed coffee grounds into a nano-powder that can be spun with polyester polymers into fabric); salmon skin into leather (Tidal Vision’s tanning process results in belts, wallets, and handbags); and coconut ash mixed with polyester makes coat insulation (Nau’s coconut-based fiber will possibly replace goose down and other clothing insulation).

Will Long-Awaited Vegan “Impossible Burger” Supplant The Ground Beef Patty?

The first product of a well-funded Silicon Valley food start-up is about to debut in local restaurants, the first salvo in a so-far secret war against the beef industry. After six years of research, Impossible Foods has created an expensive – $20 a serving – vegan version of the ground beef patty. The product is the result of reverse engineering and analysis of beef to create a mixture of proteins, fats, vitamins and amino acids from plant sources, the only one sold raw for cooking. It contains more sodium and saturated fat than ground beef, but no cholesterol, hormones, or antibiotics. It will hit grocers’ shelves in a few years, once the price problem is solved. And the taste? Food writer Kurt Soller says it is “complex: fruitier, funkier and more barnyardy” than conventional veggie burgers. And it smells just like cooked beef.

British Research Project To Develop New Gels From Surplus Potatoes

Several British universities and research institutes will benefit from a $3.7 million grant supporting development of personal care gels, creams and other products from discarded starchy vegetables like potatoes. The food industry throws away millions of tons of vegetables that are unsold for one reason or another each year. Also contributing to the problem are surplus supply and processing waste. The researchers will investigate how nature’s catalysts –  enzymes – can be used to make starch-based gels using nanoscale fibers. The new gels could be used across the pharmaceutical, beauty, home product and food industries. Participating in the research are the University of East Anglia, the John Innes Center, the University of Bath, and the University of Exeter. 

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October 19, 2015, to June 20, 2016

Inventor Comes Up With Toothpaste Pod That Makes Tubes Thing Of Past

Irish-American inventor Wayne Solan has developed the Poppits, a soluble toothpaste pod. Designed to melt in the mouth in five seconds, Solan’s invention eliminates the need for toothpaste tubes. Each year, 1 billion toothpaste tubes end up in landfills. Currently on community-funding site Kickstarter, Poppits requires $50,000 to manufacture the first batch.

Smart Products Sell Because People Are Stupid

Consumers are buying personal care products with built-in smart technology because people are dumb. Procter & Gamble's Oral B Genius 9000 toothbrush comes with technology that tells the user whether he is brushing his teeth properly and what the weather is like outside. For people who love working out, the Elvie pelvic floor contraption functions as a personal trainer. Unilever is testing its Peggy smart clothes peg, which includes a built-in thermometer and hygrometer, in Australia. For women, there is the smart tampon, which is attached to a wire that connects to a sensor clipped to the underwear. This tampon alerts the user's phone whenever it is time for a new one.

Alexia Says Non-GMO Project Verification Will Finish Within 12 Months

A ConAgra food subsidiary that makes frozen French fries and other potato side dishes says it will phase out GMO ingredients over the next 12 months. Alexia Foods says the project, which entails Non-GMO Project verification, is 90 percent complete. The company also announced two new side dishes – flavored sweet potato fries and truffle fries – made with organic potatoes Alexia products are available at natural, gourmet, club, grocery and mass retail stores.

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May 19, 2014, to October 19, 2015

Unilever Calls For Innovations Aimed At Reducing Laundry Water Use

Unilever announced an innovation challenge through its Foundry IDEAS online platform which aims to reduce laundry water consumption. With laundry accounting for 19 percent of water consumption in Nigeria and with 4 billion people forecast to be affected by water shortage by 2025, the need to reduce water use when doing the laundry is quite urgent, the company said. According to Unilever, consumers who wish to participate in the challenge are encouraged to develop ideas for “new products, devices, services, communication tools or experiences.”

Innovation Is Key To Unilever’s Bright 3rd Q Sales Picture

Unilever says its 3rd quarter sales boomlet is due to success in its innovative ice cream and personal care brands and in its e-commerce business. Sales in the period grew 9.4 percent to £9.9 billion (€13.4 billion), and underlying sales grew 5.7 percent. Sales in Europe grew by 2 percent. Food sales rose 1.6 percent while personal care and refreshment were up 6.2 percent and 8.5 percent respectively. The company said innovations like Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Core helped fuel double digit growth, along with the premium Magnum Pink and Black brand. In addition, e-commerce globally is growing at 20 percent a year and now accounts for seven percent of the overall business.

Swedish Inventors Launch Successful Kickstarter Campaign For Laser Razor

Sweden-based inventors Morgan Gustavsson and Paul Binun launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter for the Skarp Razor. Designed to shave hair with a laser, Skarp Razor raised $650,000 in its first 10 days on the fundraising website. Gustavsson and Binun aim to release the laser razor by March 2016, with a retail price of $159.

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September 02, 2013, to May 19, 2014

Panera Opens Test Bakery In Connecticut

The Panera Bread Company has established a test bakery that experiments with its current products and also tests product innovations and “staffing models”. Located in New Haven, Conn., the test bakery allows customers to watch baking staff as they work during the day. The company expects to roll out a new sprouted grain bread offering that was tested at the New Haven bakery. It will be sold at all Panera locations as a bagel flat beginning this month. The company will also roll out a staffing model system-wide that permits bakers to interact more with customers during the day.

Wisconsin Bakery Continues Tradition Of Product Innovation

An entrepreneur who fell in love with a single product produced by a Green Bay, Wis., bakery eventually bought the store in 1994. That single product made by Not By Bread Alone – sausage bread – is still made using the original recipe, but is offered in different forms, e.g., muffins and mini-muffins, snakes for Halloween, wreathes for Christmas, etc. The store has since expanded to accommodate café-style eating, offering a large variety of sandwiches, breads and other baked goods. The still popular sausage loaf, filled with sausage, mozzarella cheese, and seasonings, sells for $7.00 (small) or $12.00 (large).

Revolutionary Bread Mix Provides An Answer To Almost Every Dietary Concern

A Florida-based bakery says it’s ready to shake up the bread industry with a bread mix that addresses a myriad of health problems – celiac disease, gluten intolerance, insulin resistance, hypertension, obesity, need for more protein, etc. Smart Baking Company will deliver its Smart Loaf mix to health food stores after its crowd-funding “kick starter” program finishes on May 21. The Smart Loaf mix will be high in protein and fiber, gluten free, zero carb and low in sodium. At 80 calories per service, the quick baking bread – just 60 minutes from start to loaf – is targeted at people who want to avoid wheat, starch and sugar, the company says. And to those who don’t own baking pans: the package serves as the pan.

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August 19, 2013, to September 02, 2013

Los Alamos National Laboratory Honors Team For Creating Statistical Tool With Procter & Gamble

The Los Alamos National Laboratory awarded its first Richard Feynman Prize for Innovation Achievement to the team that developed the Reliability Technology statistical method for Procter & Gamble. Developed by researchers Michael Hamada, Harold Martz, and their colleagues in partnership with the consumer goods company, Reliability Technology has enabled Procter & Gamble to streamline its manufacturing processes. The research team was honored during the laboratory’s 2013 outStanding innovation Awards reception.

Unilever, University Of Liverpool Partner To Develop Renewable Chemicals For Manufacturing Applications

Unilever partnered with the University of Liverpool to launch a research project aimed at developing the next generation of renewable chemicals from biomass. Chemicals that would be developed would be used in the manufacture of the consumer goods giant's home and personal care product lines. With emphasis on developing chemicals from the surplus sugars, fats, oils, and carbohydrates produced as by-products and forestry wastes, the project will create a center of excellence in the identification of renewable ingredients, the partners said. To be located at the University of Liverpool, the project center will employ rapid high-throughput research methods.

Innovation Drives Growth In Hair-Care Market, Analysts Say

After years of playing second fiddle to the skincare category, the hair-care segment is showing signs of impressive growth, driven by an increased focus on innovation. Although only a few smaller brands have adopted it, customization is believed by many industry analysts to be a major driving force of the hair-care market. In the upcoming HairCareIngredients 2013 online event organized by Cosmetics Design magazine, industry expert and consultant Imogen Matthews will do a presentation focusing on the customized hair-care segment. Hair-care companies are also innovating in terms of ingredients, including multi-function ingredients.

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July 01, 2013, to August 19, 2013

Weather Channel Helps Marketers See How Weather Affects Consumer Buying Behavior

Cable news network Weather Channel Cos., which has renamed itself the Weather Co., began offering its weather-related data to advertisers that want to improve the chances for success of their campaigns. Raw weather data analyzed by Weather Co. scientists help marketers to fine-tune their pitches by incorporating information on weather conditions likely to prevail when consumers are likely to buy their products. Information offered by the company also helps companies understand how weather conditions affect consumers’ buying behavior and help them adjust their marketing accordingly. For example, the company has learned that sales of insect repellents increase in the spring in Dallas, Texas, when dew point is below average. In Boston, however, sales of the spray product rise when the dew point is above average.

Walmart Adds Mobile Coupons To Scan & Go Self-Checkout Mobile App

Walmart upgraded its Scan & Go self-checkout mobile application by adding a feature that lets shoppers clip coupons by tapping their smartphones and claiming the savings automatically during checkout. Other features added to the mobile app include the ability to scan a QR code on a printed receipt to download an electronic version into the smartphone and the option to having phone numbers registered during checkout to start receiving automatic electronic receipts for future in-store purchases. Launched in the latter part of 2012, Scan & Go is expected to be expanded to more than 200 Walmart stores. Mobile coupons are available at stores that already offer Scan & Go.

Aldi, Lidl Adopt Contactless Payment Systems

Discount retailers Aldi and Lidl introduced their respective contactless payment systems. After completing a successful trial of the technology, Lidl rolled out Ingenico's iPP350 contactless payment system across its 580 stores. Aldi is running a trial at selected branches and is also considering the adoption of near field communication-driven technology. Several retailers in the UK have already implemented contactless payment systems in 2012, including Marks & Spencer and The Co-operative Group. Use of contactless payment systems in the UK has risen 22 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to research by Visa.

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June 17, 2013, to July 01, 2013

HBA Expo: Is Bonicel, The World’s First Probiotic-Derived Personal Care Ingredient, About To Get Traction?

Ganeden continues to promote its Bonicel ingredient as “the first science-backed, probiotic-derived personal care ingredient that has been shown to significantly improve the appearance of seven common signs of aging” but thus far it’s not included in any personal care products in-market. This looks set to change.
In a conversation with Business360, Ganeden indicated that two personal care products that contain Bonicel should launch in the next 30-days, with others following.
Clinical claims                                           
Bonicel was first announced some 15 months ago in Ganeden’s March 1, 2012 press release (‘Breakthrough Research Paves Way For New Probiotic-Based Topical, Anti-Aging Cosmetic Ingredient’) which claimed that “Bonicel, improves skin hydration, elasticity, under eye puffiness and reduces fine lines and wrinkles in humans.”
Bonicel is made in part from the extra-cellular material produced during the fermentation of GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30. 6086), a patent-protected probiotic ingredient that is used in over 75 food, beverage and animal health products. While some press about Bonicel mentions it is a probiotic, it is in fact a probiotic-derived ingredient, derived from GanedenBC30's fermentation broth and not itself a probiotic.
On February 5, 2013 (New Research Confirms Bonicel's Multiple Anti-Aging Benefits) Ganeden released another press release that touted the results of a third-party study that found that Bonicel “improved skin hydration, elasticity, under eye puffiness and reduced fine lines and wrinkles in humans and even reduced redness.”
At the June 18-20 HBA Global Expo ‘Where Beauty Meets Business’ in New York Ganeden  promoted Bonicel and Business360 inquired about the status of personal care products containing the ingredient. Business360 also called both Ganeden and Glanbia (the North American distributors) to find out the status of products planning to use Bonicel.
Products expected in 30-days   
Natalie Martinez, Business & Product Development Manager at Ganeden indicated that a number of suppliers are working to incorporate Bonicel in various applications. She was unable to disclose the manufacturer’s and applications but did say that the first products incorporating Bonicel should be in market in about 30 days.
Primary applications look to be as an anti-aging agent for skin and face care but the company is working with suppliers on a range of other applications including hand health, (leveraging anti-aging properties for moisturizers and topical cleansers), oral health (leveraging the ingredients anti-inflammatory properties) as well as after-sun and scalp health.
Ganeden claims that four clinical trials have been run on Bonicel. None of these are publicly available but Ms. Martinez says the company is in the process of preparing one for publication. Sales literature made available at trade shows and accessible at www.bonicelforbeauty.com provides summary results of a clinical study that looked at bar soap that had Bonicel at a 5% inclusion rate.
The material states that the study found a 35% reduction in facial redness in 14-days but such an improvement is hard to see from the before and after photos the company provides, where any changes looks frankly imperceptible (see right).
First mover advantage
At this point Ganeden believes it has a unique proposition with a probiotic-derived ingredient that is supported by clinical studies and does not yet have strong competition. Ganeden has been working with both large and small manufacturers and has not signed exclusives.
Recent trademarks filings
On March 1, 2012 Ganeden filed to use the Bonicel name on a wide range of personal care categories and on June 10, 2013, it filed to trademark the Bonicel logo design.

Kroger Uses Technology To Speed Up Shoppers' Checkout Time

Grocery company Kroger said using Que Vision checkout technology has enabled it to cut shoppers' wait time to start checkout down to an average of 26 seconds from 4 minutes a few years ago. Expected to be installed in the company's 2,424 supermarkets across the country, the overhead infrared sensor technology is credited by Kroger as one of the reasons for the 9.6 percent increase in earnings for the quarter ending May 25, 2013. Displayed on light boards located at the store's front, information including number of checkout lanes currently in service and the number needed are updated in real time. Besides enhancing customer convenience, the technology enables Kroger and other traditional grocers to compete better with discounters, such as Wal-Mart and Target.

Companies Overcome Technical Challenges To Develop Avocado Powder

Two New Zealand firms have partnered to develop an avocado powder for companies that make food products (guacamole), cosmetics (facial masks) and nutraceutical supplements and capsules. The powder produced by spray dryer FoodWaikato and Avocado Oil New Zealand will be sold under the brand name Avopure in Australia, the U.S., Japan and China. The companies had to overcome some tricky technical challenges to make the powder: avocadoes are fibrous, highly viscous, and oxidize rapidly when exposed to air.

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October 15, 2012, to June 17, 2013

L'Oréal Announces Product The Company Claims Actually Regrows Hair

L'Oréal announced the Densifique, a breakthrough product the cosmetics company claims actually grows back hair. Developed in the company's facilities in Paris, Densifique works by reviving dormant hair cells, allowing them to recover and grow back, L'Oréal scientists say. Used daily by applying the product on the head and massaged into the scalp, Densifique will grow back 1,500 hairs within 90 days and continue working to revive more of the 100,000 to 150,000 hair follicles an average human head has, according to the company.

Johnson & Johnson Opens Innovation Center In California

Johnson & Johnson Innovation announced the opening of the Johnson & Johnson California Innovation Center in Menlo Park, California. One of the four regional hubs being established by the consumer goods company, the innovation center is designed to help the company advance healthcare by promoting cooperative efforts in science and technology between regional innovators and the Johnson & Johnson group of companies. Johnson & Johnson also announced that Second Genome has signed a research collaboration deal with Janssen Biotech, Inc. focusing on research into microbiome mechanisms and their potential role in ulcerative colitis.

Entrepreneurs Apply 3D Printing Technology To The Creation Of Cake Toppers

An enterprising young British couple who lacked an oven for baking has nevertheless launched a baking business using a printer that creates edible 3D sugar statues that can be eaten on their own or used as cake and pastry decorations. The couple, former architectural students, applied a 3D printing technology used by architects to create physical models of buildings prior to construction. Their first creation was a tiny cupcake topper that spelled a friend's name. The couple, which has partnered with celebrity chef Duff Goldman to create a large wedding cake embellished with their confections, firmly believes that the technology has opened up “a whole new set of possibilities” for the baking industry.

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October 01, 2012, to October 15, 2012

Haircare Company Living Proof Signs Jennifer Aniston As Investor And Endorser

Living Proof recruited celebrity Jennifer Aniston as an investor and spokesperson as part of the company's efforts to make it big in the hair-care industry. Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Robert Langer helped establish the company and is also one of its investors and is the company's science consultant. Living Proof scientists have discovered the OFPMA molecule, which is an effective barrier to moisture, the main cause of frizzy hair, and the PBAE molecule, which has properties that give hair more body. For her part, Aniston lends her star power to the company.

Beam's Bluetooth Toothbrush Can Tell If You're Brushing Your Teeth Long Enough

Beam announced the Beam Toothbrush, a Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush that keeps track of how long its user brushes his or her teeth. According to Beam CEO Alex Frommeyer, the Beam Toothbrush is "the first app-connected toothbrush." Beam said that the toothbrush comes with a sensor that "reacts to the body's bioelectricity when it's placed in the mouth." This signals the toothbrush to keep track of brushing behavior. The toothbrush, however, cannot determine the quality of the brushing.

Unilever Calls For Innovation Support For Its Sustainable Growth Initiative

Unilever's research and development department announced three research projects for which the company is seeking help from the world's R&D and innovation community. Call for help is part of Unilever's Open Innovation online portal project, which encourages innovators to contribute to the fast moving consumer goods giant's sustainability efforts. To date, the portal has received more than 1,000 ideas, including technical solutions and new product ideas. Unilever hopes that its new call for innovation will just be as successful.
<<12>> Total issues:20
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