Bob Garrison came in from the cold. A founding editor of BNP Media's Refrigerated & Frozen Foods (R&FF) Bob has profiled industry-leading companies, explored corporate strategies and covered food product development trends at more than 150 leading private and CPG companies since 1989. He has chronicled the histories of leading brands and businesses, including Gorton's, ConAgra Frozen Foods (Banquet) and Swanson's frozen TV dinners. He also has interviewed or profiled such food industry leaders as Mike Harper (ConAgra), Don Tyson and frozen bagel icon Murray Lender.
Understandably, it hasn’t been the best time for CPG food and beverage processors to unveil new products to retail customers or their consumers. Yet it doesn’t have to bring an end to strategic innovation—involving insights, ideation or product development.
Effects of the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic were dramatically evident in early March when New Hope Network postponed the annual Natural Products Expo West exhibition in Anaheim. The move immediately impacted an estimated 90,000 attendees and 3,600 exhibitors.
More than half of US adults claim they really enjoy cooking (53%) and more than one-third consider the kitchen to be the most important room in the home (35%), according to Packaged Facts’ report, “Eating Trends: Cooking & Food Shopping” Officials note these percentages have risen compared to a decade ago.
This month, I’d encourage industry professionals to pause, reflect and resolve to enhance your brand’s relationship—it’s emotional appeal—to those same consumers. Why? More shoppers are making pointed, conscious decisions to buy—or not buy—based on a growing list of factors.
Looking more closely at new product trends, it's clear that meat, poultry and seafood processors are addressing consumer interests in flavor and new food experiences. Still more new products help operators address back-of-house labor issues and consumers' concerns about ethical sourcing and sustainability.
Manufacturers' new offerings need to fit their customers' menu trends and operational demands. Those two requirements are standard. And then there's a third dimension—the true reason that makes a new item stand out for customer and consumer.