2021 R&D Teams of the Year: Overcoming the Pandemic Product Hurdle

July 15, 2021
The two winners of our annual R&D Teams of the year are Golden State Foods and Talking Rain.

Growing your product portfolio is never an easy thing, but last year’s pandemic presented special hurdles. How are you supposed to grow sales when half your business is in foodservice? How risky is it to develop truly novel products when consumers seem to want boxed macaroni & cheese and canned soup? How do you continue R&D teamwork when your product developers are working from home?

Nevertheless, our two R&D Teams of the Year managed to overcome those challenges. Golden State Foods, despite being almost entirely committed to foodservice, last year created more than 1,200 product prototypes and launched 135 new products for its customers.

And Talking Rain, maker of the ubiquitous Sparkling Ice line of drinks, took a leap into alcohol and created a hard seltzer: Sparkling Ice Spiked.

Those are this year’s winners in the large- and medium-size company categories, respectively. Honorable mentions go to their worthy opponents: Ocean Spray in the large company category and contract manufacturer and bar-maker Nellson in the medium-size category. Both of those races were close.

Races they were, because our readers and website visitors picked the winners.

If you forgot the process, all four teams wrote persuasive essays that we posted on a web-based poll during the month of May; 1,147 of you read the essays and voted for your favorites.

It’s never too early to nominate your team for next year. Email Editor Dave Fusaro at [email protected].

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