The aim of this paper was to give an overview of relevant streams of research that can form a basis for research on user-oriented innovation in the food sector. We define user-oriented innovation as a process towards the development of a new product or service in which an integrated analysis and understanding of the users' wants, needs and preference formation play a key role. We distinguish three relevant streams of research that may provide a basis for research on user-oriented innovation in the food sector: research on the formation of user preferences, research on innovation management, and research on interactive innovation. We show that the relevance of these three streams of research for the food sector depends on which type of innovation we are dealing with, and we propose a distinction of three types of food innovations depending on which actors in the food chain are involved in the innovation process. We conclude that while much relevant material exists, little has been specifically developed for or applied to the food sector, and we present five topic areas where food-related research is urgently needed.