Feb 16, 2024
© Getty Images Pro I vaaseena
© Getty Images Pro I vaaseena
Steffi Müller

From Laboratory Food to Tasty Enjoyment Option: Three Important Aspects for Sustainable and Successful Communication of Food Innovations

Many are sceptical about food innovations such as cell-cultivated or fermented meat because the idea that delicious food doesn't come from blooming fields and cattle on green meadows seems odd. However, this romantic notion has long been at odds with today’s industrial food production. It is therefore all the more important that food innovations that have the potential to change the system are communicated effectively to consumers.

In fact, global food production is responsible for about a quarter of harmful greenhouse gas emissions. And a significant portion of agricultural land—60 percent in Germany—is currently used to grow animal feed for livestock. Even if not all of this land could be used to grow crops for direct food production, it is still being used inefficiently to feed animals, which then become food. These are just a few of the many figures showing that today’s often industrial food production, while yielding high outputs, already causes numerous problems for the environment, animals, and humans.

The necessity for food innovations that conserve resources, avoid mass animal farming, and are still nutritious and healthy is therefore beyond question. But how do we go from the theoretical necessity to choosing the plant-based meatball or vegan spread in the supermarket? Only if the demand for more sustainable food options rises can a dietary shift truly succeed.

A crucial role in this will be played by the communication strategies that companies use to introduce their innovations to consumers and make them more appealing. Descriptions such as cell-cultivated meat or cheese made from microorganisms through fermentation tend to elicit critical reactions because they sound very technical, just like the term “substitute” in egg substitute or meat substitute. If the idea of giving up beloved foods comes through, it certainly doesn't create a desire for more.

So, what is the secret to good food communication? Three points are particularly important:

1. Authentic storytelling is the starting point

Especially in the field of food innovation, a well-thought-out and authentic narrative is essential. The story a company or brand tells should enable it to build a bridge to its target groups and stakeholders, to bring them along. A well-told story conveys not just information but also evokes emotions. Crucial to this is the Unique Communication Point. This point highlights where a company or brand stands out and what it represents.

A good example is Planted, which produces plant-based meat through extrusion and fermentation. However, the company doesn't emphasize this in its communication. Instead, it highlights that its products are made from natural ingredients and free from additives. The resulting image of naturalness and purity convinces more and more consumers. Planted is steadily growing.

2. Know your target groups

A good starting point for developing an authentic story is understanding the pain points and needs of your target groups. What do they value? What do they consider when choosing a brand or product? What is their life context? What is important to them in food? Knowing how your core target groups tick provides not only clues for the Unique Communication Point but also allows you to tailor your communication accordingly.

Redefine Meat, for instance, focuses heavily on the enjoyment of meat in its communication and seems to target meat lovers in particular. While the company does not hide that it creates plant-based meat using 3D printing, this is not a major topic on its channels. Instead, you see lots of delicious meat dishes—prepared with Redefine Meat's so-called New Meat.

3. Time to communicate consistently and sustainably

Even though time is often a scarce resource in performance-oriented companies, it is precisely what is needed to sustainably place your messages with your target groups. Consistency is also necessary. If what you say on your website differs from what you say on social media channels, you won’t leave a lasting impression.

Oatly has shown in recent years how effective, authentic and consistent communication can be. When the company launched its first products in 2014, oat milk was still quite unique. The brand's messages about sustainability and environmental awareness were also new. Not to the liking of the dairy industry in Sweden, which sued the company. This tension between fun, sustainability, and political activism has shaped Oatly's communication, for which it is known worldwide today.

These examples show that what consumers view with scepticism today can become a beloved option in their shopping carts in months and years to come. Achieving this requires good and authentic storytelling with an eye on your target groups and the willingness to communicate consistently and persistently.

At PIABO, we have already helped several foodtech and food innovation companies strategically and purposefully build their communication. If you want to learn more about this or need help communicating your innovations in the food sector, feel free to contact us via email at


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