MANCHESTER – 14th October 2019: Last Thursday saw some of the leading names from the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector return to Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall for the 2019 edition of the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards (GICA).

Representatives from the biggest names in the industry, including Unilever, Innocent, Essity, Tetra Pak and Sonae rubbed shoulders with dynamic start-ups, industry experts and other invited guests, as GICA continued to build on its reputation as a key meeting point for the global FMCG community at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.

Blending inspiring and thought-provoking presentations with a celebration of the very best in product innovation in 2019, GICA  provided a unique opportunity for attendees to network and forge new contacts in a vibrant yet informal atmosphere.

Commenting on the event, Gama founder and CEO Cesar Pereira said: “GICA once again proved itself to be a unique and special gathering in which industry experts, disruptive start-ups and established players are able to come together to find fresh inspiration, uncover the latest trends and initiate exciting new business relationships. I am delighted that GICA continues to cement its position as an important hub for the global FMCG industry right here in the heart of the Northern 



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, the secrets to developing a successful consumer goods brand, and the emerging opportunities and challenges for consumer goods companies. Recurrent themes included the ever-growing clamour for action on plastic and packaging, the need for purpose-driven, consumer-focused innovation, and the gradual shift towards functional, plant-based diets.

  • Ian Wright CBE, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, kicked off the event with a timely precis of challenges facing food and beverage categories amid the uncertainty of Brexit, alongside a rundown of how the key topics of veganism, packaging and food waste are likely to impact the sector.
  • Following Ian, Emma Shaw, senior R&D consumer insight manager at Unilever, revealed how the quest for sustainable packaging, along with key insights drawn from in-depth consumer research, were shaping the company’s approach to innovation.
  • Mike Rogers, co-founder of Troo Foods, spoke about his experience developing a new functional food brand, emphasising the importance of establishing a distinctive purpose and backing up functional claims with credible science.
  • Gama editorial director Tom Warden talked through four key trends currently shaping FMCG innovation, including the rise of CBD, the sector’s approach to the plastic waste challenge, and ongoing interest in coconut as a ‘clean eating’ ingredient.
  • Nicola Coronado, regional marketing director at Essity, took to the stage next to reveal some of they key success factors in developing a household goods brand, including the need for constant innovation and renewal to ensure brands remain relevant to consumer needs.
  • Wrapping up the conference, Tom Bell, co-founder of Skinny Brands, described how his business disrupted the alcoholic drinks sector by exploiting a white space for low-calorie, full-strength lager.


The second half of the event was given over to celebrating key breakthroughs in the consumer goods space, 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, Health & Wellness and Best of Middle East – represented the very best innovations unearthed in the last year by Gama’s global network of in-country researchers and analysts.

2019 winners were decided by an international panel of prestigious judges from some of the biggest names in the industry, including Unilever, Kraft Heinz and PepsiCo.

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. Our congratulations to each and every one of our finalists who have sought to drive change and progress across the consumer goods industry”.

The overall winners in each category were as follows:

  • ProductDanone Activia Infusion Inspiration Yoghurt Drink (Portugal). This functional launch was recognised for bringing on-trend botanical infusions to the yoghurt drink category.
  • PackagingWasem Wine (Germany). This winery impressed judges with the launch of a new range in a double-layer ‘Cooleo’ bottle, which is designed to keep wine cooler for longer.
  • PositioningQuaker Morning Go-Kit (USA). PepsiCo’s launch won over judges with a ‘kit’ innovation addressing the growing trend for on-the-go breakfast.
  • Branding & DesignInnocent Bolt From The Blue Juice (UK). The Branding & Design award went to Innocent for a blue, spirulina-based statement in the fruit juice aisle.
  • SMEPeekaboo Ice Cream (USA). This new ice cream brand found favour with judges for its unique inclusion of “hidden” vegetables.
  • Health & WellnessLa Ibense 1892 Sweet Dreams Ice Cream (Spain). La Ibense 1892 was recognised for bringing new functional benefits to ice cream with a launch guaranteeing a good night’s sleep.
  • Best of BritainDay 2 Dry Wash Clothes Spray (UK). Unilever won the Best of Britain award by disrupting the laundry category with a unique refreshing clothes spray.
  • Best of Middle EastHealthy Farm Pea, Kale & Quinoa Burger (UAE). 2019’s Best of Middle East award went to Global Food Industries for a new plant-based addition to the meat substitutes category.

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 Gama Innovation Conference & Awards will return to Manchester in October 2020.

To find out more about the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards, please contact Silvia Ruiz at

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