The International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR)


Biotechnology and New Product Development: A literature Review over the Consumer Oriented New product Development with Gene technology in food and plant production


Spetsidis N.M., Schifferstein R., van Trijp H., Schamel G., Wageningen University & Research Centre, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany





Genetic manipulation technology (or gene technology) together with information technology have become the most important technology clusters that have emerged over the last decades. The development of new biotechnology (or new gene technology) can be seen as a technology push where new techniques rapidly follow each other. The biotech industry engaged in food production is not in its infancy anymore. Companies involved need to compromise a cost efficient way of product development, with an increasing product differentiation. This presumes that the producers need to realize that a rapid and successful product development can be a key strategic advantage. Successfully launched new products can refuel further R&D expenditures and offer a competitive advantage.

With given consumers concerns about new products derived from gene technology, it turns to be crucial for the product developers to shift from this technology push situation to more market and consumer orientation. Consumer oriented new product development (NPD) takes consumer needs as the starting point for the NPD process and the product and production as a derivative thereof. From this point of view, technology can be considered as the tool that is used to make the product which consumers will buy, and the technological breakthroughs have their effect on the way new products will be developed.

The core idea of this project is that during this technology push, continuous research into the needs of all actors involved can identify opportunities for new products and provide a valuable guidance for a creative New Product Development. This issue implies that knowledge about the needs and preferences must guide the whole product development process and not only as an afterthought. Therefore, our analysis takes place along three dimensions: i) the technology itself; we screen technological developments in gene manipulation technology to identify of what it is able to deliver in terms of specific product features. , ii) the substrate of technology; reffering to the product. We use the methodology of the House of Quality and do not start by filling the consumer needs, but rather specific product features that technology is able to deliver. Therefore we translate product features into consumer benefits, in different levels of abstraction for different types of consumers, iii) we study the literature about the public perception against this technology; focusing on consumer concerns against biotechnologies despite the benefits they are able to provide.

The final output of this study is the identification of value that technology is able to add to specific products in terms of consumer benefits. Application of gene technology in the plant and food production offers opportunities to improve production processes, or offer an array of new functional products with potential benefits to all the actors involved. The bottleneck in this value delivery is the end-user consumer. He has to face concrete and affordable benefits upon consumption. At this point, we emphasize that consumers do not value products per se but rather the benefits that are provided upon consumption. The literature at this point suggests that a case by case study of products derived from gene technology can identify such benefits rather than a broad evaluation of this technology.



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