A milk-based canned beverage from Coca-Cola, and an anchovy-flavored porridge from Quaker Oats. These are not just concepts, but products introduced last year into the global marketplace. In 2002, Mintel International, Chicago, tallied 9,546 new foods and beverages in the U.S. alone, a dead heat with the 2001 figure of 9,598.

New products help companies keep pace with changing consumer demands. They diversify product portfolios, enhance a company's image or brand name, provide a reason for salespeople to make a new call on an old client (or a potential new one), test the waters for a major investment, and are a strategy to expand a business.

A wide range of new product success rates has been given, but it is a statistic not easily adapted to sound bites. What defines success? At what point in a new product development cycle is an idea officially a new product? And, for that matter, how do you define the term “new product”?

The majority of new stock keeping units (SKUs) introduced are “me-toos,” items based on established products already in the marketplace. However, accolades—and, often, the most profit—go to the company introducing a truly innovative product.

Unfortunately, original ideas are not easy to come by. For example, we were happily surprised with our 2002 New Products Conference, a joint venture with Mintel that drew close to 300 people. When we polled attendees as to why they came, considering the economy, a number said it was because of the economy. New product ideas were more crucial than ever both to their own and their company's success, they said.

One of Prepared Foods' primary missions is to help fire the imagination of both R&D and marketing folks. We know that cross-fertilization generates ideas. Toward this goal, we have drawn heavily from Mintel's Global New Products Database, not only for North American foods, beverages and dietary supplements, but also for trend-setting new products introduced elsewhere in the world. (You didn't think anchovy porridge was introduced in the U.S., did you?)

Additionally, Food Beat, Wheaton, Ill., chipped in with new foodservice product information. Some 751 new items appeared in the second half of 2002 on the menus of the top 200 restaurant chains.

Lastly, our commitment to the importance of innovation will take shape at our 2003 New Products Conference with a pre-conference workshop titled “Increasing the Odds on Innovation,” to be held starting September 14 at the Four Seasons, Palm Beach, Fla. Stay tuned for details (see www.PreparedFoods.com/npc/2003/).

Internet Information

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

Heart-Healthy to Simply Indulgent
www.keebler.com — Keebler
www.dliteful-bakery.com — D-Liteful Bakery
www.jelsert.com — Jel Sert

Battling Beverages
www.anheuser-busch.com — Anheuser-Busch
www.cadburyschweppes.com — Cadbury Schweppes
www.sabmiller.com — SABMiller

Sizing Up Snacks
www.fritolay.com — Frito-Lay
www.bimbobakeriesusa.com — Bimbo Bakeries U.S.A.
www.nabisco.com — Nabisco Brands

Defining Dairy
www.cabotcheese.com — Cabot Creamery
www.horizonorganic.com — Horizon Organic Dairy
www.sargentocheese.com — Sargento Foods

Come and Get It
www.oscar-mayer.com — Oscar Mayer
www.nationalharvest.com — National Harvest

Cereals Run Sweet and Healthy
www.GNPC.com — Mintel International's website with updates on global new products
www.nmisolutions.com — Natural Marketing Institute
www.smallplanetfoods.com— Small Planet Foods

No Holds Barred
www.PreparedFoods.com/archives/2000/2000_02/0002energybars.htm — 2000 article on health bar formulating
www.PreparedFoods.com/archives/1999/9910/9910clifbar.htm — Clif Bars profile

Foodservice Fancies
www.foodservice.com/news — Industry news
www.restaurant.org — National Restaurant Association
www.PreparedFoods.com/archives/2003/2003_ 2/0203future.htm — International foodservice feature

Nutraceutical Ingredient Use
www.NutraSolutions.com — Prepared Foods' supplement on supplements
www.npicenter.com — Website with news updates for nutritional products