Nature of Innovation in Food Processing in Manitoba, Canada

Bill Ashton

Abstract


Innovation among food processing firms is their lifeblood and commonly referred to as PPD—product and process development. For others—including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] (2005) besides PPD innovation—this also includes marketing and organizational development. This paper examined the extent to which these other dimensions of innovation are evident in this sector based on eight actual commercialization experiences. Data was obtained from 61 in-depth interviews with senior executives of firms and those along their respective supply chains, including customers. The data revealed commercialization results from multiple advances, called innovative initiatives. This research found the presence of the PPD definition, but it alone is insufficient to explain the more robust nature of innovation. Food processors are successful when they co-invent with customers and seek expertise beyond their firms to those across their supply chains and engage specialists, such as researchers and industry organizations. Further research needs to examine how innovators balance both PPD with other business activities, the importance of trusted relations, and decisions about resource allocation over 2 to 12 years. These are all critical when commercializing innovation in the food processing sector.


Keywords: PPD innovation, multiple definitions of innovation, commercialization of innovation, agri-food processing sector, Manitoba Canada, case study research

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.

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