Innovation is the lifeblood of this industry. It’s a well-worn phrase in grocery, but bears repeating in a climate when the noise about price, affordability and value for money can make it easy to forget.

Vital considerations though these are, they don’t work in isolation. It is innovation - in the form of new products that excite shoppers or new processes that create efficiencies and lower costs - that delivers the value part of the value for money equation. We know first-hand just how much innovation matters to consumers. Our own online traffic and social media stats tell us every day that members of the general public (as opposed to industry professionals) are overwhelmingly driven by a desire to find out about new products.

Bold, intelligent NPD - informed by changing consumer trends and needs - has a unique ability to breathe new life into old categories, shake up brand hierarchies and unlock unexpected pockets of growth.

The breakfast category is a prime example of this. The growth of ‘on the go’ partnered with consumer interest in trends such as protein has given rise to a host of new challenger brands in recent years that have turned breakfast into one of the most exciting and dynamic categories in fmcg today.

But innovation is not just about providing ‘new news’ for consumers; it also helps find solutions to some of grocery’s most pressing challenges. Our report on sweeteners and lower-sugar reformulation shows just how crucial it is for companies to have robust innovation capabilities if they want to avoid being left behind in the race to reduce sugar. A desire to cut sugar is meaningless if it’s not backed up by technical knowhow.

Innovation - including use of new ingredients like monk fruit - is what will enable suppliers to meet public health agendas while also delivering great products that consumers will actually want - an important consideration often neglected in the sugar debate.

Expensive lobbyists and public health advisers will not win this battle for the industry: in the war on sugar, innovation is the best defence mechanism food and drink has.