"Food gets a lot of attention through Instagram & Co."

How is social media changing our eating behavior? This is the question experts will be exploring at the WebStage Masters conference. We spoke to two participants in advance.

Maddi Bazzocco/ Unsplash

Before their appearance on October 27 as part of the Web Stage Masters Conference we spoke with two of the four panelists about innovative food production and the most emotional of all sales arguments, namely enjoyment: Michael Kleinert, head of the Institute for Food and Beverage Innovation at the ZHAW, and Mario Garcia, top chef from Lucerne.

Werbewoche.ch: Mario Garcia, according to the Michelin Guide, Switzerland has one of the highest numbers of "star chefs" in the world in terms of size. With its universities, it also plays a globally influential role in food tech innovation. Do you feel these two top rankings as a top chef?

Mario Garcia: You certainly notice the star density, although I sometimes have the feeling that we still have a lot of potential in the marketing of our know-how and skills.

How does research track these top rankings and is there a valuable connection between these two rankings?

Michael Kleinert: For the last two to three years, we have noticed a significant increase in start-ups. I'm noticing a trend there that there is a high demand for expert technical advice on post-prototyping. That would be a game-changing touch point with the high-end restaurant industry. Start-ups often construct business cases that lack reference to a "manufacturing reality."

Garcia: I think there are many points of contact between top gastronomy and food innovation. Top gastronomy can make innovative products consumer-friendly and accessible. We are experts in creating a personal guest experience from ideas and through innovation.

What are the non-technical or non-financial challenges to successful food innovation?

KleinertDishes and products must be "fit for purpose", i.e. they must fulfill an expectation. This is just as true for the restaurant as for the take-away product at the train station. In addition, society is currently undergoing major changes on the demand side due to a shift in values: It's going beyond sustainability, it's going toward the regenerative, toward the "healing. This change in values is also influencing innovation. But, the change in values is enormously fast, and food production is lagging behind.

How could the "top gastronomy" create a higher pace of innovation?

GarciaTop restaurateurs are perfectionists and experts in their craft. They have the skills to produce cool things with new products. They are creative and break new ground in their field. There could be a kind of symbiosis between food tech and top gastronomes. It's in our blood to be creative and innovative and to work for "the guest".

On October 27, you'll both be on stage at the Web Stage Masters conference at the Dolder Grand, discussing the influence of social media on our eating and travel behavior in front of around 400 social media professionals. How important is social media for food innovation?

Garcia: Social media today gives us the opportunity to reach a wide audience of different segments of society. We spend so much time on these media that this potential also gains enormous value. Last but not least, new trends are constantly being set on social media.

KleinertSocial media produces a romantic image of "food" and nourishment. This is both a curse and a blessing. The blessing of it is that it can make food and luxury food attractive. Food in general has received much more attention through Instagram and co. The danger is that these images seem real to people. That is fatal for many food categories. Trend researcher Matthias Horx calls this "eco-romanticism."

Does this "eco-romanticism" on social media need to be corrected?

KleinertI would like to see more social media showing where and how food is produced. And not just "romanticized" images of dishes on a plate. On the one hand, that would give a realistic picture, and on the other, it would create transparency and thus trust. The ZHAW advocates that there should not only be the influencer kitchen or the top chef in the picture. But also the farms in the middle - between the field and the plate lies an important value-added path that has hardly been shown so far. I would like to ask social media content strategists how posts should look when they come from production companies so that they are attractive, but also realistic, well-founded and genuine.

How might the high-end restaurant industry take up this imbalance on social media

GarciaTop gastronomy has the great opportunity to tell stories. Stories that awaken emotions and images that make the guest think. If we manage to do this in an honest and affectionate way, we awaken in our guests the sensitivity to precisely such topics.

Mario Garcia is an active competitive chef, multiple world champion chef and Olympic champion. He coaches young chefs and is active in many ways as a developer, jury member and trainer for the industry and for innovation. He represents Swiss top gastronomy in the most important jury in the world, at the Bocuse d'Or in Lyon.

Michael Kleinert heads the Institute for Food and Beverage Innovation at the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences. In recent years, the ZHAW has focused its research strategy even more on three key areas: Regenerative Food Processing, Food Fermentation Science and Sustainable Packaging.

Within the framework of the Web Stage Masters Conference on October 27, 2022, Martina Anderberg, agency manager of Maison des Chefsthe question: How is social media changing our eating and travel behavior? In addition to Mario Garcia and Michael Kleinert, Philipp Tschumi from Hotel Villa Honegg and Joel Steiner, co-founder of the food tech startup Upgrain, will also be on the panel.


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