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RIS Consumer Engagement Labs

Consumer Engagement Labs are pre-competitive co-creation sessions carried out by a group of consumers (selected based on specific segmentation criteria) in a joint place and limited in time, focused on ideation and development of new product concepts.

2019
2022

Consumer Engagement Labs are pre-competitive co-creation sessions carried out by a group of consumers (selected based on specific segmentation criteria) in a joint place and limited in time, focused on ideation and development of new product concepts.

Unlike typical sensory panels and consumer surveys, the Labs do not involve testing of sample products but the creation of innovative, non-yet-existing combinations of product features and benefits. The RIS Consumer Engagement Labs methodology has been developed by the University of Warsaw in 2019 and 2020, relying on the knowledge of specialists in anthropology, psychology, consumer behaviour, and innovation management, and has been further validated with academic and industrial partners. It draws on the principles of design thinking and gamification to address the challenges of the European food system. The activity contributes to the implementation of the EIT Food RIS Strategy, Action Line 2 by strengthening the innovative ecosystems of targeted EIT RIS countries. 

In 2021, EIT Food joined forces with EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Manufacturing, and EIT Urban Mobility in a joint initiative aimed at bolstering collaboration and enhancing the circular economy approach in the region, and University of Warsaw was tasked with adjusting the Labs methodology to address the environmental challenges. Building upon the 2019-2020 experiences of the RIS Consumer Engagement Labs, new co-creation processes were organised to focus on the design of packaging for takeaway meals. The refined methodology adopts a collaborative and engaged approach of both the food services provider and packaging company. 

As of July 2022, the Consumer Engagement Labs contributed to the establishment of 22 consortia, involving scientific organisations, food retailers, food producers, start-ups, food service providers, packaging companies and non-governmental organisations, in 16 European countries. The consortia gained specialist training and advice, access to the Labs methodology and toolsets, as well as support for new product commercialisation, and worked with consumers to deliver local Labs sessions. Altogether, 72 organisations from 17 countries covered by the EIT Food Regional Innovation Scheme have benefited from the project. The counts of beneficiary organisations are growing every year, with further consortia gaining access to the Consumer Engagement Labs methodology and implementing local co-creation processes.

Labs 2019

In 2019, the Labs were piloted in Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, engaging consumers aged 60+. During two intense workshop sessions combined with home assignments, the participants navigated a dynamic process of analysis of the older adults’ needs and the creation of new food product ideas. The goal was to create new, exciting food products that would meet their requirements. The Labs’ methodology encouraged the participants to use their wisdom, nurture creativity and make friends with each other.

The final roundtable focused on the most promising ideas for new products and gave space for the cooperation of consumers, food companies, scientific partners, and non-governmental organisations, jointly delving into the foodways of older adults.

Labs 2020-2021

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and sanitary restrictions, the interactive methodology of Labs was adapted to the online delivery in 10 other countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia). The follow-up Labs sessions devoted to the cooking and shopping experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and packaging were conducted in the online format in 2021.

Circular Economy Labs 2021-2022

In 2021, consortia from two countries – Serbia and North Macedonia – participated in the pilot co-creation processes. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the popularity of the takeaway meals, which in turn translated into more food packaging waste. The creative processes involved local scientific organisations, food services providers and packaging companies, and most of all, consumers, helping identify potential improvements in meal packaging to promote sustainability and circularity in the sector. The goal was to design innovative, sustainable packaging for the traditional meals that usually are more difficult to pack and transport than fast food. The collaboration between restaurants, packaging companies and consumers led by local scientific organisations proved successful, and two innovative packaging prototypes are now in the process of market introduction.

In 2022, the methodology is being rolled out to other European countries, selected in an open call: Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, and Lithuania. The successful approach to addressing circular economy challenges will therefore be tested in various local culinary traditions. It will lead to the design of more sustainable and innovative packaging for takeaway meals that will be appreciated by consumers due to the convenience of transport, use and disposal.

Labs 2022

In 2022, the project involves the pilot implementation of Labs addressing the needs of young people aged 15-19, combined with the involvement of the groups of parents and grandparents. The workshops aim to propose innovative and healthy, plant-based snacks for older adolescents.

New food products introduced to the market

The 2019-2020 Labs outcomes underwent the complex process of further in-house development checking their production potential and feasibility by the companies engaged in the activity. The successful market introductions of 22 products in 15 European countries show the creative potential of consumers as actors in the food sector:

Jerusalem artichoke puree with sweet potato and walnut

Пюре от гулия със сладък картоф и орехи

Produced by Venets.T / Венец.Т, https://venets.co
Scientific partner: University of Food Technologies, Plovdiv
Bulgaria

Healthy vegetable paste, that can be used as a dip, spread, or eaten as a side dish, combines flavours of pureed Jerusalem artichoke, sweet potatoes, and walnuts creating a savoury base for multiple dishes.

Cidrani Kombuchaga Essence with coffee

Cidrani Kombuchaga esencija s kavom

Produced by Cidrani, https://cidrani.com

Croatia

Kombuchaga Essence combines the best qualities of fermented drink with the deep aroma of coffee. Its acidic taste profile is familiar and pleasing for older adults as they associate fermentation with traditional foods from childhood. The format of the product is lightweight making it convenient to shop, carry and store at home. Packaging is easy to open and includes instructions to make it even more convenient for consumers.

CHEERS

NA ZDRAVÍČKO

Produced by BIOCEN Laboratories, http://biocen.cz/WP
Scientific partner: University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague
Czech Republic

CHEERS is a dietary supplement that comes in handy “shots” full of vitamins fortified with herbal extracts made to enhance immunity and allow better stress adaptation.

Smooth almond porridge

Jemná mandlová kaše

Produced by ŠUFÁNEK, https://www.sufan.cz

Czech Republic

Smooth almond porridge answers to nutritious needs of older consumers in the same way as it ensures their oral and dental comfort. Thanks to unique technology of grinding, the newly proposed product offers ultimate smoothness of the porridge combined with the rich nutrition content ensured by almond butter and almond flour.

Curd dessert with Jerusalem artichoke and honey

Maapirni-mee kohupiimamaiu

Produced by Pajumäe Talu, https://www.pajumae.ee
Scientific partner: BioCC, Tartu
Estonia

New dairy product high in fibre and inulin gourmet combination of curd, Jerusalem artichoke, honey, and walnuts offers a healthy and locally sourced snack making it a valuable supplement to a daily diet.

Sausage with Greek herbs

Λουκάνικο με ελληνικά μυρωδικά

Produced by E.G. PASSIAS / Ε.Γ. ΠΑΣΣΙΑΣ, https://www.passias.gr
Scientific partner: American Farm School, Thessaloniki
Greece

Low in fat and nitrates free, but rich in flavour thanks to a unique mix of endogenous Greek herbs and spices obtained from small farmers, poultry Bratwurst Mini Sausages offer a healthy and sustainable alternative for popular meat products.

TRATA Salad pocket with quinoa, tuna, fruits and herbs

Produced by KONVA, https://www.konva.gr

Greece

Trata salad pocket with quinoa, tuna, fruits and herbs offers unique taste and flavour by combining fish with sweat pineapples and peaches. Such unexpected combination revives the recipe form the 50s that revokes childhood memories of older consumers. The product addresses nostalgic memories of once popular homemade food in Greece. It also contains much less salt that other products from the same category, making it available for consumers minding their salt consumption.

Nostalgic, The Bread of Small Greek Producers

Νοσταλγικό, Το ψωμί των Μικρών Ελλήνων Παραγωγών

Produced by Small Greek Producers, https://smallgreekproducers.co...

Greece

The bread offered by Small Greek Producers is made of reborn local varieties of cereals and legumes. It uses ingredients that are not widely merchandised such as sourdough starter with hop flowers. Next, the product respects the preferences of older consumers by using yeast with basil holy water, that is popular among smaller bakeries but has not been used on the bigger scale yet.

Sliced sweet potato bread with spicy crumbs

Szeletelt, édesburgonyás vendégváró kenyérke fűszeres morzsával

Produced by Alba Kenyér, https://albakenyer.hu
Scientific partner: Budapest University of Technology and Economics
Hungary

With soft inside and crispy crust Hungarian loaf combines the best qualities of traditional sourdough bread making with an innovative flavour of sweet potatoes and a variety of savoury toppings.

Carob Snack

Carrubo Snack

Produced by Valle Fiorita, https://www.vallefiorita.it/en...
Scientific partner: University of Bari Aldo Moro
Italy

Carob Snack is an aperitif cracker made of raw vegetables, enriched by a superfood ingredient - carob flour. Low in calories and rich in calcium and fibre, it is a healthy choice for all customers craving for a crispy bite.

ForHER – JUICE FOR DRINK

Produced by Sestre, https://www.sestre.it/

Italy

Blueberry, Apple and Carubba juice recommended for women is designed to help older women keep balanced diet and lower the risk of osteoporosis. Juice is enriched with the Vitamin D, which helps reducing the loss of bone mineral in post-menopausal women. Similarly, calcium helps to reduce the risk of osteoporotic bone fracture caused by low bone mineral density.

Vegetable paste with spirulina

Dārzeņu pasta ar spirulīnu

Produced by KEEFA, https://keefa.lv
Scientific partner: Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Jelgava
Latvia

Vegetable paste with spirulina offers a healthy, gluten- and lactose-free gourmet vegetable-based alternative to meat and dairy bread toppings.

Pea-based curd cheese for breakfast

Zirņu biezpiens brokastīm

Produced by Got Foods, https://got-foods.com

Latvia

The pea-based curd cheese for breakfast serves as an innovative, upgraded version of a well-known Latvian product. It is familiar, yet has improved nutritional qualities. The vegetable-based curd has a good microbiome profile improving digestion, due to natural fermentation used in production processes.

Grikola

Grikola

Produced by Ekofrisa, https://ekofrisa.lt/gb
Scientific partner: Kaunas University of Technology
Lithuania

Grikola is a granola made of organic buckwheat (grikis in Lithuanian) coming in different colours from freeze-dried vegetable, fruit, and berries powders. Grikola produced with innovative technology gives the sensation of crunchiness without having to worry about teeth.

Healthy Beets

Burak na zdrowie

Produced by Folwark Wąsowo, https://folwarkwasowo.pl
Scientific partner: Poznan University of Life Sciences
Poland

A spiced-up version of a traditional homemade dish with a healthy supplement. It combines a well-known recipe for a beetroot salad with a touch of exotic taste thanks to the fresh turmeric and ginger, zhuzhed up by collagen.

Parsnip & lentils with gravy

Pasternak i soczewica w marynowanych pieczarkach

Produced by LYOFOOD, https://lyofood.com

Poland

A vegan readymade meal that is gluten and lactose free, making it easy to digest and prevents inflammatory response. Older consumers value natural composition of the product, thus Parsnip & lentils with gravy does not contain any additives. Thanks to lyophilisation, proposed meal keeps the best nutritious qualities. Its composition is tailored to specific needs of older consumers and their dietary requirements.

Balance Biscuits

Bolachas Equilíbrio

Produced by SONAE/Continente, https://www.sonae.pt/en, https://www.continente.pt/ & Vieira de Castro, https://vieiradecastro.pt
Scientific partner: National Institute For Agricultural and Veterinary Research (INIAV), Oeiras
Portugal

Balance biscuits offer consumers tasty yet nutritionally responsible, low in fat, sugar, and salt whole-grain biscuits that will be perfect to enjoy alone or share with loved ones.

Noble pork ham Gourmeticus Academicum Senior

Sunca Gourmeticus Academicum Senior

Produced by Agronomia Agro Food Innovation, https://gourmeticus.ro
Scientific partner: Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca
Romania

Ham is made of high-quality pork, sourced locally, with a twist of hot pepper jam, combining the best sweet and spicy flavours.

fit4you Breakfast mash for seniors

fit4you Raňajková kaša pre seniorov

Produced by Maxim Pharm, https://www.fit4you.cz
Scientific partner: Slovak University of Agriculture
Slovakia

fit4you Breakfast mash for seniors is rich in collagen and fibre hypoallergenic buckwheat based breakfast idea packed in convenient single-portioned bags.

Lejka zlejvanka

Lejka zlejvanka

Produced by Bevo, https://bevo.tech/news
Scientific partner: University of Ljubljana
Slovenia

Lejka zlejvanka is a protein-rich and low cholesterol variation on a well-known, traditional Slovenian dish. A healthy base made of buckwheat and chickpea allows consumers to tailor their dish to their preferences.

Tuna pâté with piquillo peppers

Crema de pimientos de piquillo con atún

Produced by Iberitos, https://www.iberitos.com
Scientific partner: University of Extremadura, Badajoz
Spain

Pâté of original flavour embedded in Extremadura culinary heritage yet difficult to recreate at home, packed in a jar suitable for 1-2 people to be used as tapas, an appetizer, or a snack for small households.

Boletus with truffle pâté

Crema de boletus con trufa

Produced by Iberitos, https://www.iberitos.com
Scientific partner: University of Extremadura, Badajoz
Spain

Pâté of original flavour embedded in Extremadura culinary heritage yet difficult to recreate at home, packed in a jar suitable for 1-2 people to be used as tapas, an appetizer, or a snack for small households.

Partners

Project lead

Photo Klincewicz EIT Food

Krzysztof Klincewicz

Activity Lead at EIT Food RIS Consumer Engagement Labs and EIT Food RIS Public Sector Representatives

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