Fifty enthusiastic people, including AIP members and other industry colleagues, arrived at the Food Innovation Centre on Wednesday morning with a sense of excitement standing in the foyer of the impressive new chemistry building, the home of the FIC.

Our host Rodney Heath, FIC’s Capability and Programs Manager, welcomed us warmly and provided an overview of the Centre before playing Moses and breaking us into two groups for the tour thanks to the support of Kristy Lawrence, R&D End to End project Manager.

Rod emphasised that as a future thinking University, the chemistry department is underpinning the FIC’s research in the development of food and packaging innovations.

The FIC is focussed on the survival and renewal of the Australian food manufacturing sector by encouraging precious ideas to grow and achieve a 3 to 5 times higher success rate than ideas that are brought to the market in more traditional ways.

During the tour we had a demonstration of the virtual supermarket where you can walk through walls to take a short cut to the chocolate aisle. Elesha Kelly, R&D End to End Project Manager, showed us how the layout of the shelves, plus the label design, clearly influence the ability of a consumer to actually ‘find’ the product on the shelf.

Nicholas Booker, FIC Senior Industrial Designer, explained how the early concept development work completed at the FIC allows the brand owner optimise all design aspects of the different levels of a product’s packagingduring the prototype and analysis stage, rather than make a major investment in a new idea based primarily on 2D drawings.

The site visit highlighted the ability of new technologies like 3D printing and consumer eye tracking software to complement a product developer’s skill set and provide more evidence at the early stages of the development process to build greater confidence at the time of product launch.

Many conversations followed the tour as people clearly enjoyed the chance to catch up with other members of the packaging industry; another successful AIP event, thanks to the Food Innovation Centre.