Collaboration between various departments has grown to be a key element in new product development. In fact, such a cooperative spirit has clearly been vital to the successes of our past two award recipients—H.J. Heinz, this year's New Products Company of the Year, and Kraft, our 2001 Processor of the Year.

Principals at Heinz report that group efforts have led to many of their most successful introductions over the past few years. That collaboration is not only in-house between the various divisions at the company, but also with their customers, consumers and suppliers.

Similarly, Kraft involves multi-discipline teams of R&D, marketing, finance and operations in the early stages of product development. Both companies have found this to be an excellent means of setting priorities and ensuring that all have common goals. Heinz has found an additional advantage—working together assures that any of Heinz' business units can benefit from any developments.

Fostering such a collaborative development spirit led Prepared Foods to arrange the first New Products Conference two decades ago, and as we put the finishing touches on the 20th edition of the conference, that same purpose holds true. Every year, attendees are allowed insights into the principles driving new product development at leading, cutting-edge companies in the food industry. In addition, attendees enjoy an unparalleled opportunity to mingle with top executives from some of the most innovative companies in the food business, plus our friends over at Mintel International Group afford a glimpse and taste of the latest foods and beverages from around the world.

Scheduled to take place next month (October 13-16, to be exact), this year's conference promises the most unique opportunities yet, as attendees will benefit from an examination of the impact of food safety concerns on developing new products. Plus, our bonus session on the 16th explores perspectives of one of the largest demographics in America-kids. Children will evaluate the latest kid-oriented food products and give their unabashed reviews, which should prove most interesting.

Let's see: top-level executives, the latest in development principles, an examination of food safety concerns, a wide sampling of products from around the globe, and a panel of consumers reviewing recent development efforts. This year's New Products Conference offers a glimpse at virtually an entire development process over the span of four days.

For more information on the 20th New Products Conference, contact Marge Whalen, 630-694-4347.

Internet Information

For more information on this issue's articles, see the Internet sites provided below.

The Benefit of Heinz-Sight — H.J. Heinz — Ore-Ida French Fries — Jack Daniels Grilling Sauce — StarKist tuna — EZ-Squirt ketchup

Appetizers Appeal — Chef America — David Burke’s Gourmet Pops — Simmons Foods — Ling Ling

Natural Weight Loss Options — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on obesity — Cytodyne Technologies provides information on Xenadrine EFX — Information on ephedra from the Ephedra Education Council — National Library of Medicine’s PubMed search page — Commercial website on weight-loss benefits of fenugreek seed — Search for relevant articles by using keywords such as “chitosan,” “lowfat,” “diabetic” and so on

Tex-Mex Cooking: A Fusion of Cultures — A primer on chiles — A short history of Tex-Mex cooking

The 20th New Products Conference — Complete conference information