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By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor | 04/29/2009
In the frozen meals aisle, Bertolli’s Mediterranean Style Multi-Serve line and Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine Flatbread Melts found success.
Since 2004, the number of unique UPCs per shopper per year has declined 9 percent to 361. In this transforming economy, that number is expected to continue to fall in 2009, landing below the 350 mark.
Variety, however, continues to be a driving force behind new product innovation. In 2008, 83 percent of new food and beverage products touted new and unique varieties. But the message is clear and critical for CPG marketers: Cracking the code on assortment is more important than ever before.
With new functional ingredients rising to the surface almost daily and natural and organic products gaining steam, health and wellness is a major focus of product innovation today. Promise Activ Super Shots, Minute Maid Enhanced juices and Arnold’s Natural breads are a few Pacesetter products feeding off the nation’s drive for improved health.
2008-2009 New Product Pacesetters – The Rising Stars
Also on the health and wellness front, whole-grain and high-fiber offerings experienced the largest jump. In 2008, 28 percent of Pacesetters touted those benefits, well above the historical average (1998-2008) of 9 percent. Traditional categories — pasta, bread and cereal — are ripe with examples, but fiber and whole grain also appeared in less expected categories, such as kid-targeted Kellogg’s Pop Tarts and Campbell’s V-8 High Fiber vegetable juices. Added nutrients made up 30 percent of offerings, versus a historical 20 percent, and reduced-calorie was the claim for 26 percent of products versus a historical 17 percent.
Taste variety and convenience
Taste and variety-based introductions spiked again in 2008, after gaining momentum in 2007 versus historical trends. An array of alcoholic beverages met this demand: Blue Moon seasonal beers targeted specific consumers and Miller Chill mixed beer with lime flavor. On the side, Keebler Townhouse Flip Sides offer a bit of the unexpected by combining two very different flavors in a single on-the-go snack.
After many years at the forefront of CPG innovation, convenience has become an expected but secondary feature of introductions. Convenience attributes, touted by 28 percent of Pacesetters versus 26 percent prior to 2008, included added portability and ready-to-use. In nearly all instances, these benefits are secondary to more in-demand product features.
For example, steam preparation technology has been gaining momentum, making an appearance in a variety of frozen dinner and vegetable offerings. Last year it was Birds Eye Steamfresh frozen vegetables in a pouch; this year, it’s ConAgra’s Healthy Choice Café Steamers.
And while not all the numbers are in, IRI already is tracking the 2009 Pacesetters (see table). While they span a diverse cross-section of categories, most share a common denominator: multiple product benefits.
May your new product be on the 2009 Pacesetters list.