Apple and innovation are synonymous with good reason.

In changing consumer behaviour through innovation, Apple has constantly reinvented itself; and having recently overtaken Exxon as the company with the biggest market cap in the world, its success is also indisputable evidence that radical innovation is not just the stuff of the whacky fringe, but makes brilliant commercial sense.

All too often, the need to keep costs down proves incompatible with the culture of risk-taking required to produce true step-change innovation. As we report in our ‘health check’ on innovation in the UK dairy industry, the potential cost of failure in establishing new products remains a significant barrier – a fact that’s not helped by the current tough economic climate.

Despite this, our Dairymen supplement is full to the brim with examples of how the industry has responded to changing consumer needs with innovative new products, brands and formats – here and abroad.

We’ve thrown our hat in the ring, too, asking leading brand consultancy Springetts to spruce up cottage cheese. After all, innovation – to quote one of Steve Jobs’ best-known aphorisms – “distinguishes between a leader and a follower”. As the industry braces itself for the challenges of 2012, it’s a mantra worth remembering.