Co-creation aims to listen and share for mutual benefit. Is there anything to gain from this? Insights for developing brand-new products, but also valuable consumer information. Investing in co-creation can create value completely different from conventional market research.


Professor Krzysztof Klincewicz, from University of Warsaw, presented the future consumer as a co-creator who can contribute to product development and market establishment during the Agrifood Forum 2022 panel “The Future Consumer: Food Trends, Buying Behaviours & Generational Eating Habits”. According to him, consumers should be involved in the product design process.


During the EIT food project coordinated by the university of Warsaw, they developed methodologies to bring together consumers and producers to design more innovative products. They also paved the way for slightly different ways of working with the market. In 2019, Lithuania was one of the first countries where EIT food began developing the methodology. Currently, there are 16 countries, 82 consumer groups, 43 companies, and 22 products available. There were at least 22 successful co-creation processes where consumers designed products that were later introduced to the market by companies.


“It is different from focus groups, acceptance tests or hackathons. Here, we try to work with average consumers. We try to focus on a process to really engage people to ensure that they stay motivated. And teamwork proved to be one of the essential components of this process, something that was keeping people and making them come back for more and more sessions. Finally, it is empowering people to make sure that their voices are really heard and they become the drivers and not the clients,” – said Prof. dr. Krzysztof Klincewicz.


In different panels and different consumer groups, he pointed out four dominant tendencies. First, the company listened to consumers to find out what they liked about the products, and what they disliked, so it became an “Avoid + Enhance” trend, where they could eliminate ingredients while supplementing them with others. Additionally, there is a “conveniently empowered” trend, where consumers want products that are convenient and easy to find. In spite of this, they want to feel that they have accomplished something. We will use the apple juice product as an example, which is easy to obtain, but fascinating to open because of the packaging.


There is also a growing trend of local products becoming more popular by the day, and the most interesting is the “future was yesterday” idea. People start picking up ancient recipes and rediscovering legumes and vegetables that have been forgotten for years and you might be surprised by the sources of inspiration that come from the past nostalgia, childhood memories, brands, or products that people remember because they were consuming them 20 years ago.


“Cooperation with consumers in a food production is a must,” said Mindaugas Snarskis, CEO at Vikonda Group. “When we try to please consumers, we have to have a broader purpose. We have to take into account everything, understand what we do in trying to cut waste, on what we are trying to limit our impact on the environment and etc.” he continued.


Nutrition Officer at the Ministry of Health of Lithuania, Ieva Gudanavičienė has presented the recent data from Lithuania on how consumers choose their food. Almost 82% of people choose products based on flavor, and the second important factor is products that are favorable for their health and prevention of diseases. The next important factor is the price, and the last factor is the impact of family preferences. “As a representative of the Ministry of Health I would like to see healthier alternatives that people could choose,” – informed Ieva Gudanavičienė.


Matija Bumbak, co-founder of Oyster 22, talked about their company of shellfish farmers, who grow oysters mussels and produce healthy and environmentally friendly proteins from the sea, because shellfish is having, if not negative but at least zero impacts on the environment. He agreed with prof. dr. Krzysztof Klincewicz’s idea that “future was yesterday”  based on the fact that their products are healthy proteins from the sea. They have a positive effect on the environment, beneficial ingredients like omega – 3, and most of the things that consumers want in these new healthy easy to consume products. “It has all the upper trends, because of this change in consumer behavior.” – said Matija Bumbak.


Milda Kraużlis, RIS Programme Manager at EIT FOOD CLC North-East, critically judged that the topic of food waste is still being discussed. She suggested that all food waste products could be used in other industries.


“Food waste, we shouldn’t be discussing it. It should be already solved. The fact that ⅓ of production, for example, vegetables, fruits, bread, etc. is wasted, is really scary. It’s a sin. We work with many start-ups that have solutions and use the waste from the food production as raw materials in different other sectors. Part of the fruit waste could be used by industry, in cosmetics. In our network, we have a start-up called Re-bread. They use food waste to produce not only cosmetics, but also vodka. We look for such talented people with innovative ideas for the new sustainable business and support them to act against food waste. I hope that at some point like in 5 or 10 years, the food waste problem will be solved and we will not discuss this topic anymore,” said Milda Kraużlis, RIS Programme Manager at EIT FOOD CLC North-East at the AgriFood Forum 22.