Voices: Editor's Plate
Editor's Plate: Swinging for the Fences
Three measures that new product development is alive and well.
By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief
The past couple of years, the planets have aligned to make this May issue of Food Processing a deep dive into product development. Our cover story is our 42nd annual R&D Survey. Information Resources Inc. (IRI) publishes their annual list of New Product Pacesetters, the best-selling new products of 2012, just before we go to press. And with the Institute of Food Technologists' annual Meeting and Food Expo in early July, May becomes our issue to preview the IFT show.
All three are signs of the vitality of new product development in this business.
I liken the development of a new product to the birth of a baby. Both create excitement in everybody associated. Regardless of how they turn out down the road, on their inaugural birthdays they're endowed with optimism and unlimited potential. One could be the next president of the U.S. Or the next Coca-Cola. Everyone around will try to help them succeed.
One key difference between baby and new product is the number of people involved in inception, or conception. In the food and beverage processing world, there are many parents. From the largest global organizations down to the smallest outfits, it's a cross-functional team that brings a new product into this world. Our R&D Survey bears that out.
While R&D certainly quarterbacks the product development team, 64 percent of you say Marketing plays a key role. Manufacturing is next at 54 percent. Management is right behind at 52 percent. (For the other members of the team, see the full table.) And that's the way it should be. Like all new business ideas, launching a product is too risky, too complex a process to hand over to one person, or even one department.
In some of the smallest food and beverage companies, one person may wear multiple hats. I recall a visit a few years back to a small Midwestern salsa manufacturer. The head of R&D and the plant manager showed me around – that was one person, not two. The CEO/head of marketing/purchasing agent joined us later for lunch. When they were considering a new flavor of salsa, they put their heads together but also consulted employees (a.k.a. informal focus groups and/or tasting panels), as well as trusted ingredient vendors, some of which did have considerable R&D resources to lend.
That cross-functional concept, by the way, is the foundation of Food Processing. If you haven't noticed, in every issue we cover issues critical to R&D and product development but also to plant operations – as well as marketing topics and issues of concern to management up and down the organization. As the only double-horizontal magazine – covering every food and beverage category as well as every job category – we lay claim to being the industry's magazine of record, a chronicler that recognizes the unifying factors in this business, not the divisions.
But back to my point. The No. 1 R&D department goal in this year's survey was not cost-cutting, safe line extensions or cleaning up ingredient statements; it was pure new product development. This truly is the blessed event. That desire to swing for the fences also comes out in at least some of IRI's New Product Pacesetters.
While Dannon's Oikos, No. 1 on the IRI list, was a latecomer to the Greek yogurt trend, the Pacesetters list includes some real innovations, and not all of them from multibillion-dollar global companies.
Sparkling ICE combines the interesting flavors of so many carbonated soft drinks with spring water, and creator Talking Rain remains a privately held beverage company based in Preston, Wash. Daily's is a small juice company I grew up with in Pittsburgh. It made a move into drink mixes for cocktails a few years ago, but last year mixed up its own libations in single-serve pouches – a novel concept none of the big guys had tried. MiO may be from Kraft, and ConAgra is behind Orville Redenbacher's pop-up popcorn bowl, but they're true innovations, as well.
So here's to you product developers who swing for the fences. And to you companies that empower them to do so.
Editor's Plate: Swinging for the Fences
Three measures that new product development is alive and well.
Editor's Plate: The Dangers of the Dangers of GMOs
It looks like marketing and profiteering are trumping science.
Editor's Plate: I Worry for H.J. Heinz
Buffett's OK, but who's this profit-conscious Brazilian investment firm?
Editor's Plate: New Year's Resolutions For Both of Us
Take this opportunity to set goals for the new year; I will.
Editor's Plate: The Circle of Life Continues
Companies come and go in the food & beverage industry. Let's celebrate the up-and-comers.
A More Important Vote in California
Proposition 37 looks likely to ignite the GMO debate nationally.
Editor's Plate: Green, Sustainable, Good
Take the time to assess your company's sustainability efforts.
Editor's Plate: Breaking Up Is Not So Hard To Do
The current frenzy of split-up activity is just the circle of life in the food & beverage industry.
Editor's Plate: The Food Industry Responds to Fighting Back
Food Processing readers respond to our May cover story, The Food Industry Fights Back
Editor's Plate: Did Ben and Jerry Change the World?
Two tie-dyed hippies may have set the stage for today's corporate social responsibility efforts.
Editor's Plate: Colorado's Cottage Foods Act
Is it an incubator for entrepreneurship or a recipe for disaster?
Editor's Plate: All Things in Moderation
Create low- (but not no-) calorie beverages (and other food products) without fear of failing.
Editor's Plate: We Both Had a Pretty Good Year
2011 was kind to the food & beverage industry and to us. Let's both keep that head of steam going into 2012.
Editor's Plate: Heinz, Naturally
Another champion from Pittsburgh! 57 or so reasons why the not-just-ketchup company was a standout in 2011.
Editor's Plate: Time to Remember Feeding America
Especially as the holidays approach; some of the benefits are yours.
Editor's Plate: Where's the FDA's New Funding?
The Food Safety Modernizaton Act has become one of the victims of feuding in Washington. Is good enough good enough?
Editor's Plate: The Triple Bottom Line
Should your CFO be your company’s sustainability watchdog?
Editor's Plate: Salts Gets in Some Licks
But don't rush to judgment on either side of the sodium debate.
Editor's Plate: Time to End the Ethanol Insanity
The food vs. fuel debate is tipping our way; don't let the momentum die.
Editor's Plate: What Makes for a Great Trade Show?
Some are succeeding, some failing. You ought to go to New Orleans next month to make IFT Food Expo a success.
Editor's Plate: People Have to Eat, Processors Ought To Build
Optimism runs rampant in our Annual Capital Spending Report.
Editor's Plate: A Littler Joint Venture: Me & Goji
Alexander and Adam let you design your own cereal … and container.
Editor's Plate: Some CEOs Come and Go, Some Don't
Hormel is a study in stability … and success.
Editor's Plate: 2010 Was a Pretty Good Year
A toast to a surprisingly good 2010, with fingers crossed for 2011.
Editor's Plate: Private Label vs. Brands
The rise of private label can only mean brands will raise their game.
Editor's Plate: It's Been a Crazy 70 Years
For our anniversary, we take a fun look back at the recent history of food.
Editor's Plate: Random Notes From China
On stevia, curing the world's ills and entering ‘the China century.'
Editor's Plate: Kellogg Marketing Slammed Again
When the cereal company gets punched for how it markets to children, the whole food industry gets a black eye.
Editor's Plate: More Signs the Recession Is Over
From our capital spending report to the new grocery stores in my neighborhood, food and beverage is leading the comeback.
Editor's Plate: Care Where Your Products Are Sold
Think hard about whether your creation belongs in a hardware supercenter or a dollar store.
Editor's Plate: Comments From Processors on 2010
Write-ins from our Manufacturing Survey show your concerns, insights.
Editor's Plate: Unabashed Signs of Optimism
A couple of our surveys – but more importantly, real results from General Mills and other processors – point to a strong 2010.
Editor's Plate: Nestle is Globally Fortified, Locally Invested
Nestle USA, our Processor of the Year, achieves a unique balance: power, money and size with a conscience.
Editor's Plate: Great Recession Shows Signs of Decline
The Great Recession is not being replaced by the Great Recovery, but celebrate the victories and do your part to keep this momentum rolling.
The Food Industry Needs a Blockbuster Show
Don’t stop at Process Expo’s pairing with the IFT show; add the former FMI Supermarket Show and reap the PR benefits.
Don’t Buy Sustainability from Walmart
Credit the big retailer with jump-starting a unified green effort, but the food & beverage industry should be the driver.
Nestle Leads the Pack in 2009 Top 100 Food Processors List
Just like their Swiss parent, the U.S. and Canadian operations are leading the pack in our annual Top 100 list.
Do They Want Healthier Food or Not?
In his monthly column, Editor's Plate, Dave Fusaro sounds off: Cheerios may have gone too far, but a ‘new’ FDA should focus on safety and health.
Shredded Wheat Remains Simple in a Time of Complication
Ralcorp’s deadpan Shredded Wheat promotion puts it back in the fight.
Editor's Plate: The Dow Jones Average is Meaningless for Food Companies
Maybe AIG, Merrill Lynch and Chrysler are in trouble, but food companies are shining.
Peanut Corp. Food Safety Violations are Inexcusable
Peanut Corp.’s food safety violations look inexcusable.
Resilient Food Industry a Reason for Optimism
Our Manufacturing Survey shows the resilience of the food and beverage industry.
Hormel Remains Solid in Year of Financial Chaos
In a year that ends with financial chaos, Hormel remains as solid as at any time in its 117-year-history.
Let's Put 2008 Behind Us
I’m putting this dismal year behind me and planning for a busy and prosperous 2009.
Don't be Guilty of Greenwashing
Deceptive efforts deserve criticism; but let us know about your best efforts to save the planet.
IFT Showcases Obesity-Beating Methods
Between satiety-inducing ingredients and a Wii workout, we may beat obesity yet.
Job Satisfaction High in a Year of Uncertainty
A small surprise in our annual salary survey is how well you like your job.
The Rise and Fall of the FMI Supermarket Show
The rise and fall of the FMI Supermarket Show
Corn-Based Ethanol an Unexpected Obstacle to Sustainability
In addition to driving up food prices, corn-based ethanol is standing in the way of developing other alternative fuels.
Editor's Plate: Consumer Optimism High
Our own readers’ survey and comments at the CAGNY meeting indicate optimism.
Editor's Plate: For public consumption
Processors should take the initiative against pseudoscience health reporting.
Editor's Plate: Too green for my taste
Choosing food based on a greenhouse gas score is a bad idea, says Editor Dave Fusaro, in this month's Editor's Plate column.
Editor's Plate: The loneliest guy at the IFT show
The Chinese pavilion at the IFT Food Expo was like a ghost town.
Editor's Plate: What food companies are tops?
We give you our annual Top 100© and ask you for a Processor of the Year and topics for next year.
Editor's Plate: A chocolate (flavored) outrage
There’s an outrageous petition before FDA to allow the replacement of cocoa butter in chocolate.
Editor's Plate: What grocers want
The FMI show could/should have been a place where grocery and food processing executives met face to face.
Editor's Plate: The Wal-Mart effect on food safety
‘We’re rolling back prices … on food safety.’
Editor's Plate: Paying homage to the small builders
Acknowledging the excitement and anxiety of building your first plant.
Editor's Plate: Look out for Augie Busch IV
Don’t be surprised if the Eagle again lands in snacks, or some other category that doesn’t get poured into a glass.
Editor's Plate: Who are the best suppliers?
There’s a lot of collective wisdom in the voices of 416 food industry professionals.
Editor's Plate: Keep thinking optimistically
Our own survey finds 75 percent of processors plan on increasing production by at least 5 percent this year.
Editor's Plate: The discipline behind the characters
The Keebler acquisition stretched and tested Kellogg and made it the company it is today, according to Dave Fusaro's monthly column in Food Processing.
Editor's Plate: Time for macro debate on nano
The food industry needs to publicly research the technology, assess benefits and risks and take a unified stand, according to Food Processing's Editor Dave Fusaro, in his monthly column.
Editor's Plate: Five things you should know about Nooyi
With her personality, PepsiCo’s new CEO should shake up the whole food industry.
Editor's Plate: Robbing food to pay fuel
It’s amazing to see how $3-a-gallon gasoline finally has set off a frenzy to find alternatives to oil, not just here in the U.S. but around the world. Will we someday be competing with our own SUVs for food?
Editor's Plate: All things in moderation
Ingredient solutions at the recent IFT show indicate it’s OK to leave in a few calories and some fat.
Editor's Plate: AMA not worth its salt
The AMA is battling salt. What if the organization got involved with something its members actually have proficient knowledge about? Say, infectious diseases?
Editor’s Plate: Healthier products abound at this year’s FMI show
The FMI show proved food processors are trying their best to formulate with the Dietary Guidelines in mind.
Reser's Fine Foods Rises from Humble Beginnings
A lot of food companies started out dreaming big dreams based on a really good family recipe.
Editor's Plate: What’s your China plan?
China is a subject every businessman ought to get a handle on. So we at Food Processing have put together a webcast on the topic.
Editor's Plate: One more step needed on grains
In the next 30 days, tell the FDA to finish the job and define what are ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ sources of whole grains.
Editor's Plate: Is biotechnology the future of food?
Why not a conference on biotechnology, but with the food industry calling the meeting to order?
Editor's Plate: Misplaced blame and ignorance
The Institute of Medicine report on food advertising and childhood obesity is a serious indictment … based on outdated research.
Editor's Plate: Why a processor of the year?
Are you finding ways to add value to your product? Have you wrung the inefficiencies out of your plants?
Editor's Plate: Gas prices change eating habits
If a lot of your eggs are in foodservice and fragmented retail formats, it’s time to reconsider the good old grocery store and people cooking at home.
Editor's Plate: Second Harvest … now and year-round
It’s a win-win-win. What better way to move unsalables, get a tax benefit and help hungry people?
Editor's Plate: Are you doing enough for health?
As the recent IFT Show proved, there are plenty of healthful ingredient solutions out there.
Editor's Plate: An invisible torch has been passed
Tyson Foods, no longer just a chicken company, is now the largest food processor in North America.
Editor's Plate: Ask the experts
We’ve created quite a deep pool of experts for both us and you to draw upon … in print and on the web.
Editor's Plate: Spoon-fed behavior modification
Tell consumers, ‘We care about your health.’ When people feel cared about, they become your most loyal customers.
Editor's Plate: Only you can make the pyramid work
Only General Mills has seized on the opportunity; other food companies must step up.
Editor's Plate: Are you in control of the supply chain?
If you're not managing your supply chain, it's probably managing you.
Editor's Plate: Reasons to be optimistic about food
I’m glad Sara Lee chose Hillshire Farm over Wonderbra.
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