“Working harder and smarter” is a maxim companies have taken to heart. The U.S Departments of Labor and Commerce report the U.S. business sector's productivity increased 4.0% during the second quarter of 2003 over the same period in 2002. This follows a 4.8% productivity increase in 2002 over the year 2001! Increased productivity slows inflation and keeps countries—and companies—competitive.

The search for improved efficiencies permeates all business functions, including those involved in product development. Crucial information should be exchanged between leading ingredient companies and their customers' R&D and marketing departments, as well as others responsible for implementing a firm's strategic product development direction.

The challenge then becomes exchanging information productively. Ingredient suppliers want to eliminate fruitless leads and to communicate with senior-level personnel charged with strategic product development planning. Similarly, personnel at food companies want useful information that vendors can provide. However, they, too, are frustrated.

From my own experience as director of several food R&D/QC departments, I had to make a choice. I could save my time and have vendors speak to those who reported to me, although they did not always see the “whole picture” or know my information needs. Or, I could meet with the vendors myself, potentially wasting time finding the right vendors to give me the desired information.

Now, Prepared Foods, along with its partner Vertical Xchange, is introducing a solution. ProductInnovationXchange (PIX) is an event to foster highly customized and confidential, strategic discussions. Senior R&D and business development executives at key food companies meet, in a series of quiet conference suites, with the senior management team from a select number of innovative ingredient companies whose products address issues specified by the food executives.

Meetings are scheduled through an extensive needs-matching program that pairs a company's new product development initiatives with supplier ingredient and technology portfolios. Before meetings are held, much groundwork takes place—from the creation of “white papers” detailing the food executive's information interests to the posting of selected information on PIX's secure Xtranet website. The purpose is to ensure the eventual meetings are strategic, insightful and substantive sales exchanges. What a way to increase productivity!

For more information, contact Elizabeth Lange at 952-736-9393 or Elizabeth@pi-xchange.com. The first PIX strategic sales event will take place at the Carefree Conference Resort, Carefree, Ariz., April 25-28, 2004. See www.pi-xchange.com.

Internet Information

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

A Cereal Start
www.campden.co.uk/research/current/rmcereal.htm — Raw Materials and Ingredients: Cereals
www.inthe80s.com/cereal.shtml — Cereals of the 1980s

Rich Man, Poor Man
www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aib747/aib74707.pdf — Complete article with footnotes, references, charts and graphs, from which this article was drawn
www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodMarketStructures/conferencepapers/richberg.pdf — Do the Poor Pay More? An Empirical Investigation of Price Dispersion in Food Retailing

A Culinary Approach to Fortified Foods
www.PreparedFoods.com/archives/2001/2001_7/0701flavormasking.htm — Previous PF article on masking
www.talksoy.com/Health/t98Symposium3.htm — Working with soy-based products

Variety for Low-Carb Consumers
www.PreparedFoods.com/newsletter/articles/0403/0403_6b.htm — Study that counters aspects of Atkins diet

The Chef's Edge: Marinades
www.petersgourmet.com/library/facts.html — Interesting marinade factoids
www.fiery-foods.com/default.asp — For barbecue enthusiasts

Men's Health to Male Menopause
www.cdc.gov/cvh/mensatlas/index.htm — CDC's information on male cardiovascular disease statistics
www.chiroweb.com/archives/19/11/08.html — Survey on supplement market

Calcium Supplements
www.consumerlab.com/results/calcium.asp#tips — Consumerlab.com report on calcium supplements
www.crnusa.org/shellnr051603.html — CRN urging the FDA to crackdown on coral calcium claims

Ingredients in Use: Inulin and Prebiotics
www.PreparedFoods.com/archives/2001/2001_9/0901ns_ingredients.htm — "Prebiotics Enhance Gut Health" from NutraSolutions