In 2007,Prepared Foodsand Ventura Foods will again join together to present the Spirit of Innovation Awards to recognize exceptional, innovative product development teams for their combined efforts in overcoming hurdles, meeting demands and creating truly innovative products. Past winners have reflected the notion that innovation requires not just innovative ideas but also inspirational teamwork.

As in previous years, nominees will be accepted in two categories: Foodservice and Retail. The nomination must have been released nationally within the last 18 months; that is, the product should have appeared between 2006 and mid-2007. A panel of industry experts will evaluate each nomination and product on a variety of criteria:

  • The need for coordination among the company’s departments and/or vendors. This will be determined primarily through the product’s nomination form, but the judging panel will also evaluate the product’s complexity. (Nevertheless, judges will rely heavily upon the nominations to detail the coordination and teamwork efforts involved in the creation, planning and launch of the product.)

  • The ingenuity of the product’s concept. This may also include the uniqueness of the package.

  • The sensory quality of the nominated food or beverage.

  • The willingness of the nominated company to work with Prepared Foods editors and to attend Prepared Foods’ New Products Conference.

    On behalf of the winner, Ventura Foods will make a $2,500 scholarship donation to a university of the winner’s choice. In addition, each winner receives free registration and accommodations to the Prepared Foods New Products Conference, where they will receive their award and offer a brief, five-minute presentation on the product, the challenges and the efforts required to produce the winning product. In addition, two runners-up in each category will also receive free registration to the 2007 New Products Conference.

    Nominations for the 2007 Spirit of Innovation Awards are now being accepted. A company may submit a nomination, or a vendor may do so on a company’s behalf. Entry forms and further details are available at the Spirit of Innovation website:

    Past Recipients of the Spirit of Innovation Awards

    2003 Retail: Schwan’s North America for Red Baron Slices

    2003 Foodservice: Wells’ Dairy for Friazos frozen desserts

    2004 Retail: Barilla for Restaurant Creations

    2004 Foodservice: Campbell Soup Co. for the V8 Entrées

    2005 Retail: Kraft Foods for DiGiorno (team shown on right); 2nd place: Procter & Gamble; 3rd place: Oberto Sausage Co.

    2005 Foodservice: McCain Foods for Latin Latitudes; 2nd place: FGF Brands; ConAgra Foods

    2006 Retail: FGF Brands for Fabulous Flats Naan; 2nd place: General Mills; 3rd place Liberty Richter

    2006 Foodservice: Hormel for Natural Choice; 2nd place: Advance Food Co.; 3rd place: ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston