MANCHESTER – 2nd November 2017: 25th October 2017 saw some of the leading names from across the world of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) descend on Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall for the second edition of the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards (GICA).

Blending inspiring and thought-provoking presentations with a celebration of the very best in product innovation in 2017, GICA welcomed almost 100 guests from around the world, cementing its reputation as a new meeting point for the global FMCG community at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.

The diverse range of international delegates included FMCG manufacturers, retail buyers and industry experts, with attendees travelling from as far afield as the USA, Canada, Greece, the United Arab Emirates and Finland.

Commenting on the event, Gama founder and CEO Cesar Pereira said: “Today was a really exciting occasion as we once again brought together leading names from across the FMCG world in the city of Manchester. This is a unique gathering in which industry experts, disruptive start-ups and established players can all come together to find fresh inspiration, uncover the latest trends and build invaluable connections”.

Inspiring speakers

The morning began with a series of diverse and thought-provoking presentations, as a range of industry thought leaders took to the stage to share insights on the future shape of the FMCG sector, as well as emerging trends and opportunities.

• Lisa Sohanpal, chief executive of Nom Nom’s World Food, shared her experiences of bringing a new ready meal brand to market, highlighting the importance of health, ethics and convenience, and the need for differentiation.

• Ian Wright CBE, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, explored the likely impact of Brexit negotiations on the UK food and drinks industries, pinpointing the need for companies to be primed for action on labour, regulation and trade.

• Pierre Thibert, Vice President Retail at Smiley, examined how product licencing could open up new ways for companies to engage with consumers and reach a wider audience.

• Gama editorial director Tom Warden shared some salutary lessons in FMCG innovation by reference to recent successes and failures in new product development.

• Nuno Lopes Gama, head of innovation and future tech at Sonae, explained how a collaborative and ‘open’ approach could shape and inspire the next generation of innovation in the retail sector.

• Tammy Butterworth, global R&D manager at PepsiCo, set out the trends driving innovation in the breakfast foods arena, focusing on the key themes of convenience, customisation, authenticity, health and ‘snackification’.
Commenting on the conference, Ian Wright CBE said: “[This event] is full of inspiring stories of how businesses are approaching the whole question of disrupting the existing market and growing their businesses, growing their product lines, growing their brands. It’s a really impressive event”.

Celebrating innovation

The second half of the event was given over to a celebration of innovation, with the unveiling of the winners in each category of the Gama Innovation Awards.

Recognising outstanding innovation in the FMCG space, the Gama Innovation Awards – presented in the categories of Product, Packaging, Positioning, Branding & Design, SME, Best of Britain and Health & Wellness – represent the very best innovations unearthed in the last year by Gama’s global network of in-country researchers and analysts.

2017 winners were chosen through an international panel of prestigious judges from some of the biggest names in the industry, including Unilever, Kraft Heinz and Carlsberg.

Silvia Ruiz, innovation director at Gama, said: “The Gama Innovation Awards once again shone a light on all of the best and brightest in product development from the FMCG world over the past year, celebrating the risk-takers that drive innovation forwards in their category. I would like to personally congratulate our winners and finalists, all of whom embody this creative and dynamic approach to driving change and progress in consumer goods”.

The awards ceremony was closed by the Lord Mayor of the City of Manchester, who explored Manchester’s reputation as a city built on innovation.

The overall winners in each category were as follows:

• Product: Camellure Shampoo (UAE). Camellure Shampoo won judges over with its innovative use of camel milk – an emerging ingredient in the dairy space – in a haircare product.

• Packaging: Glory Farms Beans (USA). The judges recognised the way Glory Farms Beans had revolutionised the canned vegetables category through its novel use of transparent plastic packaging.

• Best of Britain: Taste Inc Chargrilled Chicken Fillet (UK). Taste Inc Chargrilled Chicken Fillet is a novel concept that reimagines chicken breast fillet as an on-the-go snack, demonstrating how the meat category is responding to changing consumer lifestyles.

• Positioning: Be Natural Coco-Nutty Granola (Australia). The award went to Kellogg for its Be Natural Coco-Nutty Granola which it recommended pairing with coconut water rather than milk – an innovative way of responding to the growing clamour for coconut-based foods.

• Branding & Design: Shower Beer Pale Ale (Sweden). Shower Beer Pale Ale impressed the judges with its playful reimaging of traditional beer packaging.

• SME: Myst Olive Oil with Gold Flakes (Greece): This year, the judging panel was won over by Myst’s premium concept that brought a touch of glamour to the culinary oils space.

• Health & Wellness: Florette Smoothie Mix (UK). Florette Smoothie Mix won the 2017 accolade for its innovative reworking of traditional bagged salad to tie into the growing trend for home smoothie making.

A showcase of innovation

One of the highlights of the event was the launch of a one-of-a-kind innovation zone, where more than 20 exhibitors from around the world showcased an array of disruptive and creative product launches to an international audience of FMCG manufacturers, retail buyers and industry experts.

Ian Wright CBE said: “Seeing the way the event has grown, particularly the showcase of different products, is really very inspiring. It’s a really interesting verdict on Manchester and the Northern Powerhouse, and the way in which it’s touching every part of the British industry, and in particular the food industry”.

Tammy Butterworth added: “The event here has been fantastic. [With] the showcase of new products, it’s really interesting to go round and speak to people who are bringing new things to market, try the products and just see what’s happening in the industry”.

Networking opportunities

As an exclusive, innovation-only event drawing a diverse range of delegates from across the globe, GICA 2017 provided a unique opportunity for attendees to network and forge new contacts in a vibrant yet informal atmosphere.

“Networking has been phenomenal”, commented Lisa Sohanpal. “There’s a lot of virtual connections and when you meet people face to face it just takes it to another level. Events like this in the industry are key to bringing innovation to the limelight”.

Save the date

The Gama Innovation Awards will return to Manchester on 25th October 2018.

To find out more about the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards please contact Marisa De Lucia at

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About Gama

Gama is a global provider of business information and services specializing in product innovation and international trade. Through its worldwide network of over 100 experts in more than 46 countries, Gama offers high-quality news, research, analysis and partnering services.