Keywords: food and drink industry, innovation, inertia, user/producer relationships
Productive inertia and technological flows in food and drink processing
The food and drink (F&D) industry is usually seen as a traditional sector with little potential for technological change owing to nutritional, bio-psychological and cultural constraints on the demand. F&D firms issue fewer patents than firms in other manufacturing sectors. As measured by the number of patented inventions, the pace of technological change in F&D seems less dynamic than in the rest of manufacturing. However, innovation provided by upstream industries represents a substantial portion of total technology available to F&D, especially in commodity-type industries. One symptom of the technological dynamism of this industry is the broadening of the spectrum of sciences and techniques now involved in food and drink processing. The innovativeness of upstream industries and the efforts displayed by the F&D industry to combine the new techniques provided by suppliers should be taken into account to characterise technological strength in F&D processing. The idea of productive inertia in this industry should be rejected.