The Spirit of Innovation Awards recognize and celebrate exceptional and innovative product development teams for their work on exciting new products. The awards are based on Prepared Foods' and Ventura Foods' fierce commitment to the concept that innovation is one part pioneering ideas and one part inspirational teamwork.

More than 30 entries from a broad range of companies were submitted in two categories. The categories were foods for sale in retail (grocery) stores and prepared foods for sale to foodservice operations. Winners serve as an example of team efforts in the development of foods and beverages introduced in the marketplace in 2002 through the middle of 2003.

A Prepared Foods panel reviewed the products, which were judged on various criteria:

  • The obvious need for coordination among several of a company's departments and vendors as seen in the complexity of a product,
  • Ingenuity of the product's concept (which may also include packaging elements),
  • Sensory quality of the food or beverage,
  • The commercial launch of the product into the retail or foodservice distribution channel, and
  • Willingness of the company to work with Prepared Foods in regards to editorial efforts and conference attendance.
The award includes a donation of $2,500 to a university chosen by the winner. The winners received free registration and accomodations for Prepared Foods' New Products Conference, where they received their Ventura Foods'-sponsored award during an awards dinner. Brief presentations also were made on the challenges and triumphs during the products' development.

Congratulations to this year's winners, Schwan Food Company in the retail category and Wells' Dairy in the foodservice category!

Nominations for the 2004 Spirit of Innovation Awards, which can be submitted by a company or a vendor on its behalf, will begin in March 2004. Stay tuned!