Is your new product’s success directly the result of great teamwork? Would you like some extra industry recognition for a team of employees who were innovative and creative in successfully launching your company’s product?

Prepared Foodsmagazine and Ventura Foods have presented the Spirit of Innovation (SOI) awards since 2004, specifically to recognize innovative product development (PD) teams for their work on exciting new products. The PD path is not always smooth, and it takes active, dedicated participation by members of several departments--such as R&D, production, marketing, sales, purchasing and even suppliers--working together to ensure a successful roll-out. Employees who go the extra mile are hard to find; teams that perform admirably are even rarer. The SOI awards seek to reward those high-performance teams. This year, nominations are being accepted until June 25, 2010; winners will be notified in July 2010.

Winners are chosen in both the retail and foodservice categories. A company may nominate itself, or a vendor may do so on a company’s behalf. Food and beverage products launched during the past 18 months (between 2009 and mid-2010) are eligible for the award this year. Additionally, Ventura Foods has graciously agreed to make a $2,500 scholarship contribution to a university of each first-place winner’s choosing.

The winners are chosen by a panel of industry judges that considers several criteria, such as:
* The need for coordination among the company’s departments and/or vendors, and the product’s complexity. Judges rely heavily on a fully completed nomination form for this information (nothing confidential needs to be disclosed). Forms can be found at:
* The ingenuity of the product’s concept. This may also include the uniqueness of the item’s packaging.
* The sensory quality of the nominated food or beverage.
* The willingness of the winning companies to work withPrepared Foods’ editors as subjects for feature articles in the October 2010, issue of the magazine and to attendPrepared Foods’ 2010 New Products Conference, to be held September 12-15, 2010, in Palm Beach, Fla.

The forms and complete details, including the type of information requested (no proprietary information needs to be disclosed), the criteria used to pick the winners, where to send product samples and a list of previous foodservice, retail and scholarship winners, may be found at:
--Julia M. Gallo-Torres, Managing Editor

In Good Company

The 2010 SOI winners will be part of an innovative, elite cast of companies:
2009 Retail Winner: MolliCoolz’ Milkshake Mixers
2009 Foodservice Winner: Simplot Food Group’s UpSides® Multigrain Blends

2008 Retail Winner: Kraft Foods’ DiGiornio Ultimate Focaccia
2008 Foodservice Winner: Tyson Foods Inc.’s Fully Cooked Pot Roasts

2007 Retail Winner: RW Delight’s Heavenly Soufflé
2007 Foodservice Winner: Multy Grain Foods’ Vegan Crab Style Cake

2006 Retail Winner: FGF Brands’ Fabulous Flats Tandoori Naan
2006 Foodservice Winner: Hormel Foods’ Natural Choice sliced deli meats

2005 Retail Winner: Krafts’ DiGiorno Microwave Rising Crust Pizza
2005 Foodservice Winner: McCain Foods USA’s Latin Latitudes

2004 Retail Winner: Barilla America Inc.’s Restaurant Creations
2004 Foodservice Winner: Campbell’s Away From Home V8 line of soups, chilis and entrées

Please visit see a complete list of winners and read why they won. Winners will be the subject of a feature article inPrepared Foods’ October 2010, issue. Profiles of companies who win second and third prizes also will be presented. pf