2016 R&D Teams of the Year: Lessons in Overcoming Challenges

Formulation challenges were overcome by the product development teams at Kraft Heinz, Nature's Path, and Tasty Bite.

By Food Processing Staff

A team from India and one from Canada comprise two-thirds of our R&D Teams of the Year winners this year; and the third company didn't exist one year ago.

Kraft Heinz as a corporate entity celebrates its first birthday July 2, but those two companies go back more than 100 years each. With that kind of heritage, there are products that no R&D team should mess with. And yet they did.

Kraft Original Macaroni & Cheese (read their story here), in the blue box, has been around since 1937. While it's wholesome and a favorite among children, it did have two synthetic color additives -- which both gave it that familiar orange color and raised eyebrows among ingredient-phobic moms. While there was no great outcry, Kraft's Meals and Desserts R&D Team went to work to replace Yellow 5 and 6 – which, if you read the following story, was not as easy as it sounds.

In the medium-size company category, Nature's Path for 31 years has been creating nontraditional breakfast cereals. Working with the likes of chia, hemp, and buckwheat takes a special touch. (read their story here)

Also tricky is formulating authentic-tasting ethnic foods that suit American palates. Try doing that from India. Yet Tasty Bite, our small company winner, has succeeded. (read their story here)

This is our eighth annual feature on R&D Teams of the Year, and the process remains the same. Early this year, we asked you in print and on our website to nominate the best R&D teams you know at small (less than $100 million in sales), medium ($100-750 million) and large (more than $751 million in sales) companies. Out of a dozen or so nominees, we whittled the list down to eight. Runner-up in the large category was Enjoy Life Foods. The medium category also featured Daiya Foods and Litehouse Foods. Biena Foods and Grainful rounded out the small category.
Their nominating essays were posted on our web site. In April and May, we asked you to vote, with the winners of that popular vote taking the honors. Apparently, innovation is valued by many of you, because 2,019 votes were cast.

We've profiled the winners in three separate articles, which you can read by clicking the links above. Thanks to the 2,019 of you who voted. And if you feel bad that your company and your team was not among this year's contestants, it’s not too early to drop us a line for next year. Email dfusaro@putman.net.

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