Let’s face it. It’s challenging to find venues to see and taste today’s new food and beverage products. The nation’s coronavirus pandemic has cancelled industry trade shows, closed or severely limited restaurants and forced grocery shoppers to don masks, maintain inside social distancing and follow prescribed traffic patterns in retail aisles.

Even so, Prepared Foods is talking new products and honoring nine food and beverage companies for their excellence in consumer insights, R&D teamwork, cross-functional execution and overall innovation. Specifically, there are six category winners and three additional honorable mentions in Prepared Foods’ 18th annual Spirit of Innovation Awards (SOI).

‘We’re honored to partner with Tastepoint by IFF, whose strong commitment to innovation is demonstrated by their support of this experience,” says Mike Leonard, publisher of Prepared Foods and Cannabis Products.

“This year’s Spirit of Innovation Awards brought more than 200 submissions for new products introduced from January 2019 through March 2020. True to form, they represent every taste, technology and trend now cutting across foods and beverages—including plant-based meat and seafood, clean label products, intriguing new flavors, CBD products and products with functional, better-for-you benefits,” says Bob Garrison, Prepared Foods Editor-in-Chief. “It’s tremendous to have a bigger, online platform to discuss innovation trends with experts. Moreover, we will recognize our Spirit of Innovation winners like never before. This virtual format lets us go directly to our winners, hear each company’s innovation story and even encourage attendee-winner questions and answers—all in real time.”


Editor’s Choice / Most Innovative: Mind Blown Coconut Shrimp, Plant Based Seafood Co.

New Retail Food: Green Giant Cauliflower Breadsticks, B&G Foods Inc.

New Retail Beverage: KÖE Shelf Stable Organic Kombucha, Stratus Group LLC

New Foodservice Product / Front of House*: Tyson Crispy Thigh Strips, Tyson Foodservice

New Foodservice Product / Back of House**: Marco's Adovada Sauce, Ready Foods

New Alternative Channel Product***: Lobster Salad Sensations, King and Prince Seafood Corp.

*Addressing foodservice consumer trends, tastes

**Addressing foodservice customer-operator needs

***New item for in-store deli and/or convenience store channel

Honorable Mention / Retail Food: Ground Veggie Meatless Mix, Urban Accents

Honorable Mention / Technical Achievement: Spaghetti Squash Pasta, Solely Inc.

Honorable Mention / Technical Achievement: Caliper CBD Powder, Caliper Holdings

Prepared Foods’ New Spirit of Innovation Experience

Since their start in 2003, Prepared Foods’ annual Spirit of Innovation Awards traditionally have been celebrated showcased and sampled at the brand’s annual innovation event: the New Products Conference (www.preparedfoods.com/new-products-conference). 

Providing a unique and intimate look at every angle of product development, Prepared Foods’ annual New Products Conference travels each year to a different city known for food and beverage product development. With a nod to a “new normal,” Prepared Foods will host its 2020 New Products in all virtual format across three days in mid-September: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Sept. 14, 16 and 18 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. EST. 

With that, Prepared Foods and partner Tastepoint by IFF created an entirely new “event”: a two-hour Spirit of Innovation Awards Program and Integrated Innovation Experience on Tuesday, October 27th, 2020 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. EST

It will include… 

… an experts’ “state of innovation” panel, moderated by Prepared Foods Chief Editor Bob Garrison;

… in-depth profiles of each winning company’s product + problem-solution storytelling straight from R&D team members;

… exclusive real-time, online chats between webinar attendees and winning company R&D teams  

Fast Facts: Prepared Foods Spirit of Innovation

Prepared Foods’ Spirit of Innovation awards are unique in that they honor R&D teams’ multi-functional collaboration to identify market opportunities and do work together in product development. There is no charge to enter and to be eligible, products must have been introduced between January 2019 and March 2020.

The annual competition is open to all prepared foods and beverages developed for retail-grocery sales, commercial and non-commercial foodservice operations as well as alternative channel outlets such as in-store deli-bakeries and convenience stores.

Prepared Foods received more than 200 initial submissions and companies were asked to support their nominations with product and innovation details. Editors used that information to select 46 new products, which advanced to second round preparation and tasting in July. Each product was evaluated against a 10-point scale for overall innovation, their innovation problem-solution story and sensory performance (including taste, appearance, texture, smell, etc.) 

2019-2020 Spirit of Innovation Award judges included

Charlie Baggs, President & Executive Chef, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations

Nicole VanWort, Product Development Chef, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations

Michael Battocletti, Product Development Chef, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations

Leslie Maclin, Principal, Isthmus Innovation

Bob Garrison, Editor-in-Chief, Prepared Foods

David Feder, Executive Editor-Technical, Prepared Foods

Doug Peckenpaugh, Editor-in-Chief, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery; Cannabis Products

Andy Hanacek, Editor-in-Chief, The National Provisioner

To learn more about Prepared Foods’ Spirit of Innovation Awards and past winners—complete with winning product profiles—visit www.preparedfoods.com/spirit-of-innovation-awards.