At a recent EIT Food (European Institute of Innovation and Technology) call, the Center of Excellence in Food, Tourism & Leisure (CoEFTL) was selected to participate in the RIS Consumer Engagement Labs Project.
The CoEFTL coordinated activities of the consortium that represent Greece — Dipnosofistirion, caterer of the ACG Aghia Paraskevi campus, and packaging company Merla Packaging. Their work focused on developing new packaging concepts and addressing the challenges of sustainability and of circular economy.
The RIS Consumer Engagement Labs Project was implemented via the interactive methodology of Labs, using designing thinking and gamification to engage consumers, stimulating creativity and fostering the acceptance of new products. The Labs in 2022 took into consideration specific requirements of consumers related to takeaway food, such as meals ordered from restaurants, catering providers, or food delivery services. The processes involved local food service providers and packaging companies, helping identify potential improvements in meal packaging to promote sustainability and circularity in the sector.
In the study, three consumer panels with 5 participants each, conducted four online sessions over five weeks. Participants were selected based on age criteria to explore the needs of different age groups. In the first stage, they were asked to order and consume a three-course meal in “packages” from the Dipnosofistirion. At this stage, participants had to observe the packaging, comment on its functionality, and describe their perceptions about the level of sustainability conveyed by its attributes. In addition, participants were given extra packaging samples to a) comment and potentially improve those amendments and b) create a prototype packaging based on the views and needs of the panel. Finally, through the co-creative process, three prototype packaging ideas were created from participants’ feedback and shared with representatives of the consortium, namely Merla Packaging and the Dipnosofistirion. With everyone’s input and the valuable experience of the consortium, a final new packaging concept was created, which will be commercialized in the following months — Merla Packaging will produce the new packaging concept to be utilized by the Dipnosofistirion in a “real-world” environment at its restaurants and catering.
The CoEFTL coordinators on this project are Dr. Athanasios Krystallis, CoEFTL Executive Director, and Dr. Toula Perrea, CoEFTL Member, in the area of Food.
The EIT Food is an Agency of the European Union aiming to strengthen Europe’s ability to innovate by connecting partners from leading businesses, universities, and research centers across Europe. It is a people-centric and resource-smart transformer of the European food system, addressing major societal issues and challenges, including food shortage, obesity, food waste, circular economy, and sustainability.