Founded in 1877, Barilla, the world’s largest pasta maker, has a lot of history behind it. But the Parma, Italy-based company is also looking towards the future with its Blu1877, an innovation hub exploring new, sustainable products and incubating forward-facing startups.

So how does a giant, 150-year-old pasta company leverage technology to constantly innovate? That’s what we’ll be asking Victoria Spadaro-Grant, CTO of Barilla, at the Smart Kitchen Summit {SKS} this October. As a little amuse bouche before she takes the SKS stage, we asked Spadaro-Grant a few questions about what role Barilla can play in the future of food.

Check out the Q&A below. We’ll go far more in-depth at SKS, so don’t miss out. Get your tickets now and join us in Seattle!

As the CTO of Barilla, what sort of technologies are you exploring?
There is a lot happening in the world of food. From robotization of restaurants and cooking “smartization” to natural-digital design of food, to digitization of industrial food processes to create completely new and unexplored consumer experiences.

Indeed, we are living in an unprecedented time where the confine between the worlds of food and digital are blurring, and so is our research and development to create new tasty and delicious products.

One thing remains constant: the human touch and discerning ability required to design foods that people love.

How do you balance trying to foster new innovation with the legacy and history that comes with such a historic company?
Great question! Please think of “tradition” as the innovation that was once super successful and has resisted the acid test of time… remaining in people’s lives forever.

Our job is to continue creating and driving innovation that will become tradition, i.e. Uber, successful products that consumers adopt and carry across all stages of their lives.

Tell us more about Blu1877. Why did you decide to create an innovation lab within Barilla?
At Blu1877, we look to gain exposure to new, exciting products and services, and to new categories that could represent light towers for our future.

Along the way, we also want to help disruptive start-ups that could have the ability to re-shape the way consumers see and experience food.

In sum, the job of Blu1877 is to drive innovation that would be otherwise difficult to carry at Barilla because of the smaller scale or level of category maturity/proximity.

At Blu1877, we seek to tap into evolving trends and learn about how to innovate and do business in a manner — and with an approach — that is different from the established wow we have at Barilla.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for large CPG companies in the future of food?
The ability to generate and invent new “traditions”!

Keep an eye out for more speaker Q&A’s as we ramp up to our fifth year of SKS on October 7-8 in Seattle! We hope to see you there.

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