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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.


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.

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 15 products in 14 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 Ltd / Венец.Т ООД
Academic partner: University of Food Technologies, Plovdiv

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.


Czech Republic
Produced by BIOCEN Laboratories s.r.o.
Academic partner: University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague 

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.

Curd dessert with Jerusalem artichoke and honey
Maapirni-mee kohupiimamaiu
Produced by Pajumäe Talu OÜ
Academic partner: BioCC, Tallinn

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.

Sausages with Greek herbs and reduced fat content
Λουκάνικο με ελληνικά μυρωδικά

Produced by E.G. PASSIAS S.A.
Academic partner: American Farm School, Thessaloniki

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.

Sliced sweet potato bread with flavoured crumbs
Szeletelt, édesburgonyás vendégváró kenyérke fűszeres morzsával

Produced by Alba Kenyér Zrt
Academic partner: Budapest University of Technology and Economics

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 Srl
Academic partner: University of Bari Aldo Moro

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.

Vegetable paste with spirulina
Dārzeņu pasta ar spirulīnu

Produced by KEEFA Ltd
Academic partner: Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Jelgava

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


Produced by Ekofrisa UAB
Academic partner: Kaunas University of Technology

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
Academic partner: Poznan University of Life Sciences 

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.

Balance biscuits
Bolachas Equilíbrio

Produced by Vieira de Castro S.A. & Continente
Academic partner: National Institute For Agricultural and Veterinary Research, Oeiras

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 Srl
Academic partner: Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca

Noble pork 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 s.r.o.
Academic partner: Slovak University of Agriculture, Nitra

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
Academic partner: University of Ljubljana 

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
Academic partner: University of Extremadura, Badajoz

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
Academic partner: University of Extremadura, Badajoz

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.


As of April 2022, the Consumer Engagement Labs contributed to the establishment of 21 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.


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