“New—what’s wrong with you?” That’s how one TV ad begins its product pitch. Ad copy suggests many “new” products are actually just simple extensions or iterations with word “new” slapped onto them. Then the advertiser asserts—what’s needed is “better.” The company says consumers are clamoring for products that are truly better—more unique, more effective and more life changing.

What: Prepared Foods 34th Annual New Products Conference

When: Sept. 25-28, 2016

Where: Naples Grande, Naples, Fla.

Details: www.newproductsconference.com

2016 Speakers

2016 SOI Awards

Likewise, Prepared Foods knows time-pressed food and beverage executives are clamoring for something truly better in a new program experience. So when it came to planning the 34th annual New Products Conference, Prepared Foods’ editorial and planning teams went back to the drawing board to recast the entire event.

Leveraging What We’ve Learned

Prepared Foods still serves R&D directors but we realize that today’s new product development is a team sport. It’s a multi-functional blend of marketing, consumer insights, food science, culinary, nutrition, packaging—and even such new titles as “VP-Breakthrough Innovation” or “VP-New Platforms.”

Moreover, we realize that innovative best practice insights literally come from anywhere and everywhere. Meanwhile, we all want to better understand the future, a shifting retail landscape and today’s fast-paced, fragmented consumers.

For all these reasons, we recognized it was time to completely reformulate the New Products Conference. From now on, this intimate and unique event will embrace a distinct theme, offer tracks with more related insights—showcasing packaging and “break-out” businesses—and present a much broader, richer environment for ideation.

Even our annual “Spirit of Innovation” new product competition—co-sponsored with Ventura Foods—has been recast and expanded.

Casting Big Vision

The New Products Conference 2016 theme is “RIPE for Disruption,” which acknowledges the ongoing opportunities to ideate, innovate and capture consumers. This year’s event creates a much richer learning experience with a host of insightful keynote speakers and industry experts.

The conference opens on a big note with two keynote presentations, starting with Nancy Giordano, a strategic futurist and founder of Play Big, Inc., Austin, Texas. Giordano is ranked among the nation’s top 50 futurists and also is a veteran strategist who strives to better leverage the powerful possibilities that exist at the intersection of business trends, societal needs and authentic brand stories. Passionate to help leaders drive meaningful change, she aims to make the future tangible in strategically designed interactive, hands-on sessions so attendees better relate and take home what they learn.

As former chairman & CEO of The Hershey Company, Rick Lenny knows what’s required to win in the marketplace—with both the consumer and the customer. Now as Chairman of IRI, one of the world’s largest retail data and insights firms, Lenny will take a look at winning in-market examples of innovation and discuss how presidents and heads of innovation can differentiate themselves and lead change in new directions.

Delivering Tuesday’s keynote address is Jon Sebastiani, founder of Krave Pure Foods and KRAVE Jerky (sold to Hershey) and founder of Sonoma Brands. Newly formed Sonoma Brands is a consumer products incubator and venture fund that will both innovate and invest in category disrupting brands. Sebastiani will discuss how Sonoma Brands supports and develops promising small to mid-sized companies with a proven concept of success, an authentic story and a passion for originality. Sonoma helps build management teams in critical areas and work collaboratively to accelerate growth, drive brand awareness and create exceptional strategic value for all stakeholders.

Delivering another distinctive viewpoint is Craig Dubitsky, an award-winning innovator and founder of Hello Products, a Montclair, N.J., oral care company taking on this $30B daily-use category. Named one of the “50 Most Creative People of Year” by AdAge (2014), Dubitsky applies design thinking as he revolutionizes every CPG category he’s touched—from household cleaning products (Method) to snacks (Popcorn Indiana) to lip balm (eos Products). Craig shares his approach to reimagining and reinvigorating categories with insights and integrated package and product development.

Views From the Front Lines

Looking for more insights from executives on the front lines? This year’s event features exclusive presentations by …

… Jeff Church, co-founder & CEO, at Suja Life LLC, one of the nation’s fastest growing processors of cold-pressed juices and probiotic drinks;

… Susan Allen, Schwan’s Consumer Brands’ senior director-Innovation and a leader for the Schwan’s Chef Collective, chefs driving culinary new product inspiration and change;

… Lisa Thorsten, Campbell Soup’s director of global regulatory affairs, and an internal champion for responsible nutrition in product development;

… Scott Aakre, Hormel Foods’ vice president of corporate innovation and new product development;

… Tulin Tuzel, Sabra’s chief technology officer and leader of the company’s multi-functional innovation center outside Richmond, Va.;

… Doug Cornille, vice president of marketing at PowerBar, which marks new ownership (Post Foods) and its 30-year anniversary with an entire product line relaunch.

Prepared Foods takes attendees even further with more program features. A new “Fast-Growth Companies” track features presentations by Pat Crowley, founder of Chapul LLC, maker of cricket bars; and Michael Parisi, vice president of sales and marketing for barkTHINS, the snacking chocolate business.

Prepared Foods’ new “Packaging” track series features Craig Dubitsky, as well as a presentation by Chastity Prince McLeod, packaging group manager at Nestlé’s new global, multi-million dollar R&D center in Solon, Ohio. McLeod will share thoughts about working directly with counterparts in R&D, culinary, consumer insights, marketing and other departments.

Industry Experts, Insights

Rounding out the New Products Conference are industry insight leaders. They include Lynn Dornblaser and David Jago, directors of innovation insights at Mintel Group. Dornblaser and Jago will present US and global new product trends data and consumer insights feedback.

Still more experts—are consumers themselves! This year’s New Products Conference features a live panel with Millennial consumers, moderated by Maeve Webster, founder of Menu Matters, a retail and foodservice consulting firm.

Diving even deeper into consumer insights is Dr. David Forbes, president, Forbes Consulting and author of “The Science of Why?” a book about exploring and understanding consumer motivational behaviors.

Also addressing consumer behaviors and motivations are Barb Stuckey, president and chief innovation officer at Mattson; and Rachel Cheatham, PhD, founder & CEO at the Foodscape Group. Stuckey will discuss the nation’s fast-changing retail environments, which now vary in every way from Amazon.com to city meal delivery businesses. In her address, Cheatham will discuss consumers’ nutritional interests and motivations. She will speak with Campbell Soup’s Lisa Thorsten.  


Keynote Speakers

Rick Lenny, Chairman, IRI (former chairman, Hershey Company)

Nancy Giordano, founder of Play Big Inc., strategic-future consulting

KRAVE Jerky Founder Jon Sebastiani, now CEO, Sonoma Brands (innovation incubator)

Executive Insights

Jeff Church, Co-Founder & CEO, Suja Life LLC

Susan Allen, Senior Director-Innovation, Schwan’s Consumer Brands

Lisa Thorsten, Director-Global Regulatory Affairs, Campbell Soup

Scott Aakre, VP-Corporate Innovation & New Product Development, Hormel Foods

Tulin Tuzel, Chief Technology Officer, Sabra

Doug Cornille, Vice President of Marketing, PowerBar

Industry Insights

Lynn Dornblaser, David Jago, Directors of Innovation Insights, Mintel Group

Barb Stuckey, President and Chief Innovation Officer, Mattson

Rachel Cheatham, PhD, Founder & CEO, Foodscape Group

Dr. David Forbes, president, Forbes Consulting, author of “The Science of Why?”

Chef Todd Erickson, executive chef of Haven South Beach and Huahua’s Taqueria

Track: Packaging

R&D Meets Packaging: Chastity Prince McLeod, Packaging Group Manager, Nestle R&D Solon

Design Thinking: Craig Dubitsky, Founder and CEO, Hello Products

Track: Fast-Growth Brands

Pat Crowley, Founder, Chapul LLC (cricket bars)

Michael Parisi, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, barkTHINS

Live Consumer Panel

Millennial Consumers with Maeve Webster, Menu Matters

*As of June 20, 2016

New Products, New Awards

You like product improvements. We do too! In fact, Prepared Foods and Ventura Foods proudly announce several new features to 2016 Spirit of Innovation Awards. This 12th annual contest recognizes food and beverage manufacturers’ product development teams for their collaborative work on innovative new entries.

Rather than simply acknowledge the top three finishers in two categories (retail, foodservice), this year’s competition breaks with the past and honors six first-place honorees in six categories. Moreover, this year’s honorees will be showcased during a special awards session and reception at Prepared Foods’ New Products Conference.

Award winners recognized at the event will be in the following categories:

Best New Product - Retail Food: Most interesting, unique new retail offering (product line or individual SKU)

Best New Product - Retail Beverage: Most interesting, unique new retail offering (product line or individual SKU)

Best New Product - Foodservice / Front of the House: Most interesting, unique new prepared offering addressing restaurant patrons’ taste trends and other food preferences.

Best New Product - Foodservice / Back of the House: Most interesting, unique new prepared offering that addresses trends and helps operators reduce cost, labor, time, etc.

Best New Product - Alternative Channel: Best new food / beverage developed specifically for in-store bakery, in-store deli or convenience store channel operators.

Most Disruptive / Interesting New Product: Editors’ choice of the most “disruptive” and new-to-category product (food or beverage / retail or foodservice).

What makes the Spirit of Innovation awards unique is that they honor product R&D teams’ multi-functional collaboration to identify and address market opportunities. Products will be evaluated on an initial 10-point grading scale according to an item’s originality, demonstrated teamwork and demonstrated sales success.

Prepared Foods staff will evaluate all submissions and seek additional input from chief editors of sister BNP Media titles: Beverage Industry, Dairy Foods, National Provisioner (meat/poultry/seafood), Snack&Wholesale Bakery, Candy Industry, Refrigerated & Frozen Foods and Industria Alimenticia. Related titles include Brand Packaging, Flexible Packaging and Packaging Strategies.


Originally appeared in the July, 2016 issue of Prepared Foods as Rip for Disruption.