2009 R&D Teams of the Year: There Is No ‘I’ in R&D

But somewhere among those words are the letters T-E-A-M. We asked you to pick the most innovative R&D teams and you gave us three: General Mills, Kettle Foods and Peas of Mind.

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Build for your team a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another and of strength to be derived by unity.

– Vince Lombardi
Vince Lombardi’s sayings grace many a motivational poster. The Hall of Fame coach of the Green Bay Packers probably is best known for his harsh intolerance of mediocrity (“Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing”; “Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser”) but he certainly knew how to win. And although he placed great responsibility on individuals to perform to their fullest, he knew that winning required a team.

In January and February, we asked for nominations via our web site for R&D Teams of the Year. We wanted to recognize, with your help, the best, most innovative product development, the lifeblood of our industry, and the companies that, like Lombardi, placed supreme value on the work of their team. 

Food Processing's 2009 R&D Teams of the Year:

(click on the logos below to read each winner's story)

R&D Team Winner: Kettle Foods

R&D Team of the Year: Peas of Mind

You responded with dozens of nominations. To be fair, they were divided into three categories. Finalists in the large category ($501 million in sales and greater) included: Cargill Meat Solutions, General Mills, Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson Foods and Unilever. Medium-sized companies ($100-500 million) making the grade were: Weetabix North America, Ruiz Foods, Kettle Foods and Bolthouse Farms. Picks for small companies (less than $100 million in sales) were Mattson & Co. and Peas of Mind.

In March and April, we asked readers to return to our web site and vote for a finalist in each category. We were floored by the response: 1,555 votes were cast. There were clear-cut, popular-vote winners in the large and small company categories, but the medium-sized category was too close to call – six votes separated the top three R&D teams.  So the editors of Food Processing and accounting and business advisory firm Grant Thornton consulted on the top three and chose Kettle Foods as the winner. General Mills was the runaway winner in the large category and Peas of Mind won in the small class.

Speaking of teamwork, this was our first attempt at collaborating with you, our readers on a popular vote. It was a smashing success, and we thank all who nominated and then voted.

We salute the winning R&D teams, and thank them for agreeing to share their successful strategies with our readers. And turning again to Coach Lombardi for a final word:

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

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