We dedicate this month's cover story to Diane Toops, our News & Trends Editor, who died Oct. 31 following a brief illness. Tracking new products was her favorite part of the job, and so this was her favorite cover story each year.
This is one of our favorite projects of each year. We write about product introductions in every issue of Food Processing. Rollout and Food Biz Kids are devoted to them, and new products pepper our features on product development and sometimes even plant operations. But this is the only issue in which we put them on the cover.
Every year we survey our full-time editors, freelancer writers and others who help us out and ask them for the new products that have delighted them during the year, the ones they actually buy, repeatedly, for themselves and their families.
It's not scientific or comprehensive, but it is fun. The only rules are that the items are nationally available and "new," meaning introduced since July of 2011.
We usually trot out that well worn phrase "new products are the lifeblood of the food industry." That's not entirely true, as quite a few processors make a nice living creating private label products, contract manufacturing for others or simply maintaining tried and true old products (like Coca-Cola). But like the birth of a baby – every one of whom could some day be president – a new product could be the next Coke or Oreo. Even if it's just the next Caffeine-free Coke, it could provide nice returns on your investment.
New product watcher Mintel Group sees product launches slowly recovering along with the economy. "In 2009 and early 2010, we saw new product introductions drop, due primarily because of the recession. At that time, companies cut back on their new product introductions in the U.S. market, across all categories and all types of products," says Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel's director of innovation and insight.
"Since that time, however, we have seen increases overall in product introductions in food and beverage. The patterns are quite different from category to category, however. For example, the two largest categories with the greatest increases are Dairy and Snacks.
"Dairy has shown strong increases in new product introductions in the past 12 months due mainly because of the impact of Greek-style yogurt, plus all types of yogurt," Dornblaser continues. "Snacks growth has come from alternate types of snacks -- for example, vegetable-based or unusual grain-based snacks -- plus an overall increase in snack bars and nut snacks. The Meals category also has shown growth, driven in part by meals formulated for two people and further expansion of vegetarian offerings.
"Two of the largest categories that have shown the greatest decreases in the past 12 months include Bakery and Sauces. Bakery's decline may be due in part to the lack of 100-calorie pack type introductions [which boosted numbers in the recent past]. Sauces & Seasonings has slowed following strong increases in late 2009, which likely were driven by consumers choosing to cook more at home."
A few facts and figures are all well and good, but nothing drives home the point like taste. And whatever else factors in for repeat purchases. Following are the top 10 new products that Food Processing and Friends find to be irresistible – over and over again.
By the way, keep this in mind: After Jan. 1, we will set up a yearlong poll on our web site so you can tell us what are your favorite products of all time. We'll give you 10 months to think about it. Next November, we will devote this feature to whatever products you specify. It should be interesting.
Our list this year:
- Adonia Frozen Greek Yogurt
- Fair Oaks Farms Core Power
- General Mills Gluten Free Chex Apple Cinnamon
- Hershey's Simple Pleasures
- Hostess Chocolate Crème Twinkies
- IHOP At Home Syrups
- Roland Flavored Quinoa
- Stouffer's Farmers' Harvest Steam Meals-For-One
- Vitalicious VitaPizza
- Wells Blue Bunny Cake-Inspired Ice Creams