Why product development is lagging
We can talk about consumer trends and their desire for convenience, foods that make them healthier and/or look good, authentic flavors and cuisines from around the world, affordable options and most of all great taste. We can zero in on new technologies in R&D, new packaging options that retain freshness and nutritional attributes longer, creativity on the flavor front to tantalize those taste buds and less processed ingredients with a nutritional boost. But bottom line, investing in innovation is expensive and long-term. Sadly over the past decade, we've seen less innovation in new products. Sure, you can improve technologies to add Omega-3 to macaroni, antioxidants to beverages, flavors to water or trumpet organic ingredients, but what happened to real innovation? Food companies have consolidated, stockholders demand for profits NOW have been the reality, we've become more dependent on ingredients from China and third-world nations, talented R&D professionals have been let go, and the industry is spending more and more time in food safety litigation, fighting nanny groups, competing with supermarket private label for shelf space, and trying to keep food prices down while ingredients prices skyrocket. Perhaps we should spend less time throwing new (copycat) products against the wall to see if they will stick and more time investing in true R&D innovation, such as new technologies we've seen in frozen food in the U.S. and refrigerated options abroad. We need to work together with our suppliers for solutions, to honor and free our talented R&D professionals to come up with truly innovative new ideas and products, to allow marketing to tell our stories, and to invest in new equipment and plant to prevent food safety problems. It's a new year; we need to regain consumer confidence. What should food companies do to promote innovation? What do you need? You have the answers, so please share them with us.