1660601362806 2019rdteams

2019 R&D Teams of the Year: Innovation Beyond the Comfort Zone

May 28, 2019
Sargento, Lundberg Family Farms and Athens Foods are this year’s winners for our 2019 R&D Teams of the Year award.

Innovation and stretching outside your comfort zone appear to be the common threads among this year’s R&D Teams of the Year.

For Sargento Foods, after 60 years of working solely in cheese, it meant learning about fruits, nuts even chocolate to capture America’s interest in proteins and snacking.

Rice was the foundation of Lundberg Family Farms, but a 2013 growth initiative led to tortilla chips, chocolate-covered snacks and frozen rice & quinoa bowls.

Phyllo dough seemed impossible without gluten, but the dynamic duo at Athens Foods found a way to create the famous Greek dough for those with Celiac and gluten sensitivities.

Those three were top vote-getters in our 11th annual competition between R&D teams. The runners-up – all worthy of their own stories and recognition – were Schwan’s Chef Collective in the large company category, private label bar-maker Nellson in the midsize group and beverage development firm Imbibe in the small category. Our thanks to all of them for participating.

And to you. Your votes picked those winners. All six teams wrote persuasive essays that we posted on a web-based poll during the month of April, which drew 1,440 votes.

2019 R&D Teams of the Year: Sargento

While cheese remains at the heart of everything Sargento does, new product growth is this Wisconsin-based R&D Team's top priority.

Back in 2015, when America's infatuation with protein was reaching a fever pitch, Sargento combined three sources of the nutrient in one thermoformed multilayer PET tray. Balanced Breaks added a little dried fruit and a handful of nuts or seeds to cubes of cheese in a 1.5-oz. package – in the process, also combining protein (7g per pack) with convenience and snacking. And keeping it under 200 calories. It was a winning combination, literally, garnering a Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Award two years later. Read what other innovations Sargento has come up with in this full-length feature

2019 R&D Teams of the Year: Lundberg Family Farms

Product development, though recently intensified, has always been part of the fabric of Lundberg Family Farms.

A little bit about Lundberg's R&D: To facilitate the product development process, the company opened a pilot plant in 2015 that is roughly a 10-minute drive from the main production facility in Richvale. Using small-scale equipment that approximates the big machinery in Lundberg’s main plant, the R&D team can easily test new formulations and processes without disrupting normal operations. Learn more about them in this full-length feature

2019 R&D Teams of the Year: Athens Foods

How Athens Foods developed its gluten-free phyllo dough after years of persistent experimentation.

Through considerable creativity, can-do confidence and relentless tenacity, the research & development team at Cleveland-based Athens Foods Inc. produced the previously unthinkable: gluten-free phyllo dough. Learn more about Athens Foods Inc in this full-length feature

You can read about each of our individual team winners on their respective pages listed above (and below). And check out all of our previous years' winners in our R&D Teams section on the Food Processing website

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