Whatever the industry, it is crucial for those within it to keep updated on business environment changes. The ability to offer a steady stream of new products desired by clients also is critical. However, neither is it easy.

To assist the industry with both these objectives, Prepared Foods' annual New Products Conference, taking place next month, is stepping up to provide an educational and exceptional agenda of speakers and interactive events.

Many companies do pursue new product goals both aggressively and with as much efficiency as possible. Using Mintel International's Global New Products Database (GNPD, Chicago) to delve into product development initiatives of various organizations, amazing numbers show up.

For example, looking for new food and beverage products introduced worldwide from January 2002 through July 2004, the following data emerges. Using the search phrase “Kraft Foods,” over 1,900 items appear. Using the search word “Schwan's” brings up over 220 records. Typing in “Sara Lee” results in a list of well over 400 records on the database, and a search with “Masterfoods USA” produces a list of new products that easily tops 200.

And, while these primarily are retail companies, introducing new products and being in tune with consumers is no less important for the foodservice industry. For example, last year, Pizza Hut launched Fit 'N Delicious pizza that had about 25% less fat than its comparable Thin 'N Crispy pizza. Buffalo Chicken Pizza is a more recent new offering.

Schwan's, Kraft Foods, Masterfoods USA, Pizza Hut and Sara Lee have something else in common beyond a belief in new products and a strong customer orientation. Nestled in among the distinguished 2004 conference presentation line-up are high-level speakers from each of these companies. (See sidebar to the left.)

Essential business information from the immediate (e.g., regulatory updates impacting new foods, and new product trend and sales information from IRI, Beverage Marketing and the GNPD consultants) to the intriguing (e.g., nutrigenomics) will be provided as well.

Interactive educational sessions include the sampling of seminal new products gathered around the globe. Networking is made easy and enjoyable by activities such as a golf tournament, a “scavenger hunt” in which teams are given clues as to where they should take creative photos in the Sonoran Desert, and a sunset desert barbecue with upscale Southwestern cuisine, bonfires and Mexican dancers. Go to PreparedFoods.com and click on “2004 New Products Conference” on the left side for more information.

Speaker Line-up

Advancing Genomics and What it Means
for New Food Product Development
Ruth DeBusk, nutritionist/geneticist,
Interactive Training Media
Creative Product Development
Kati C. Fritz-Jung, VP R&D, The Schwan Food Co.
Trends and Statistics in the
Cutting-edge Beverage Industry
Gary Hemphill, Senior VP, Beverage Marketing Corp.
of New York
Regulatory Update: Must-know
Information for Product Developers
Steven Steinborn, Partner, Hogan & Hartson LLP
Transformational New Products: Reinventing How Consumers Eat
Valerie Skala Walker, VP Marketing,
Information Resources Inc. (IRI)
Global New Products Presentation
Lynn Dornblaser and David Jago, Directors,
GNPD Consulting Services
Global New Products Sampling Session
Consulting staff of the Global New Products Database (GNPD)
Perspectives on the Future of Foodservice
Brian Averna, Corporate Executive Chef, Sara Lee Foods
From Kids to Teens: Differing Needs & Attitudes of Children, Tweens and Teens
Bryan Urbick, Consumer-Knowledge Centre, and Abel Westerhof, KidsLink Research Ltd.
Top 5 Trends Impacting
Product Development
Todd Abraham, VP Research, Kraft Foods
Leah Evans, Senior VP R&D, Pizza Hut
John Helferich, VP R&D, Masterfoods USA
Exclusive Mintel Consumer Reports: Stalking the Not-so-elusive Baby Boomer
GNPD New Products Send-off

Special Networking Events

(Additional great meals and
breaks also provided)

Sunday: October 10
Golf Tournament
Photo Scavenger Desert Safari
Welcome Reception

Monday: October 11
Cocktail Reception

Tuesday: October 12
Sonoran Desert Sunset Dinner