The role of manufacturers in food innovations in Sweden

Märit Beckeman (Department of Design Sciences, Division of Packaging Logistics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)
Michael Bourlakis (Kent Business School, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK)
Annika Olsson (Department of Design Sciences, Division of Packaging Logistics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 28 June 2013



The purpose of this paper is to investigate how food manufacturers in Sweden define and view innovations, how they view their role and those of other actors and the interaction/collaboration regarding innovations in the food supply/value chain.


After an exploratory pre‐study with 12 participants, a full study of Swedish manufacturers comprised of representatives from 12 food companies was initiated. In total, 21 interviews were carried out. The majority of the respondents had food industry experience. They initially answered structured questions and thereafter open‐ended ones.


Few, if any, innovations in the Swedish food sector are considered radical. Many are “invisible” to meet demands for lower cost, shorter orders and sustainability. The food manufacturers seem to develop products in house for consumers and not by working with them or others inside or outside the supply chain; they do not adopt an “open” innovation mindset. There is lack of trust in the chain and limited exchange of information. Some manufacturers pursue horizontal collaboration with other manufacturers abroad.

Research limitations/implications

Innovations and strategies are a competitive edge for a company, so the respondents may not have been completely open.

Practical implications

Manufacturers and the whole supply chain would benefit from an “open innovation” mindset to organise and work differently and build trust.


There is no other published study on innovations and food manufacturers in Sweden. The food sector should embark on collaboration and coopetion and initiate discussions on what can be done to become more innovative.



Beckeman, M., Bourlakis, M. and Olsson, A. (2013), "The role of manufacturers in food innovations in Sweden", British Food Journal, Vol. 115 No. 7, pp. 953-974.

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