Prepared Foods and Ventura Foods are joining together to present the 2009 Spirit of Innovation Awards. Recognizing exceptional, innovative product development teams for their combined efforts in overcoming hurdles, meeting demands and creating truly innovative products, the award has honored companies large and small throughout the industry’s categories, be it dairy-based desserts or meal components, beverages, baked goods or soups.

The common trait shared among the winners has been each company’s reflection of the notion that innovation requires not just unique ideas, but also inspirational teamwork:
2008 Retail Winner: Kraft Foods for DiGiorno Ultimate Focaccia
2008 Foodservice Winner: Tyson Foods Inc. for Fully Cooked Pot Roast

2007 Retail Winner: RW Delights for Heavenly Souffles
2007 Foodservice Winner: Multy Grain Foods for Vegan Crab Style Cake

2006 Retail Winner: FGF Brands for Fabulous Flats Naan
2006 Foodservice Winner: Hormel for Natural Choice

2005 Retail Winner: Kraft Foods for DiGiorno
2005 Foodservice Winner: McCain Foods for Latin Latitudes

2004 Retail Winner: Barilla for Restaurant Creations
2004 Foodservice Winner: Campbell Soup Co. for the V8 Entrées

2003 Retail Winner: Schwan’s North America for Red Baron Slices
2003 Foodservice Winner: Wells’ Dairy for Friazos frozen desserts

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 2008 and mid-2009. A panel of industry experts will evaluate each nomination and product on a variety of criteria:
* 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.

* 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 in the names of the winning companies, and 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.

Nominations Needed!
Nominations for the 2009 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. The deadline for entries and product samples (three) is June 30, 2009. Entry forms and further details are available at the Spirit of Innovation website: www.PreparedFoods-SOI.com.