Our ability to reason, think creatively and solve problems. Perhaps that’s best described as mind over matter. Ah, but how do food and beverage manufacturers interpret a shifting and fast-paced foodservice market? That can be a more vexing question of mind over menu.

What’s the issue? We’ve arrived at a period when two conflicting statements are equally true: less is more—and more is more.

What do I mean? In this year’s annual foodservice menu review, Technomic finds restaurant operators intentionally trimming and cutting menu offerings (see page 40). On the whole, restaurants have reduced appetizer selections by 7%, desserts by 5% and entrees by nearly 9% according to year-over-year comparisons from Technomic’s MenuMonitor data. Bottom line: there literally are fewer new product opportunities for food and beverage manufacturer-suppliers.

Meanwhile, other Technomic features show operators and consumer-customers asking for more transparency about ingredient sourcing and sustainability, more better-for-you products, more items suited to specialty diets (gluten free, vegan, etc.) and more ethnic foods with authentic, hotter and global flavors.

Datassential and The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) also find consumers opting for foodservice “at home” meal solutions (see page 25). It’s a time when more meal providers—including supermarket delis, meal kit delivery services and others—are jumping into the market.

What is your company thinking about foodservice product development? For its part, The Schwan Food Company is taking a culinary-focused R&D approach through its newly formed Schwan’s Chef Collective, a group of internal corporate chefs who collaborate with outside chefs from all over the nation. Not only will these chefs inspire Schwan’s next retail product but also new foodservice offerings as well.

We believe Prepared Foods’ annual foodservice issue helps food and beverage processors identity key industry trends. For my part, I’d also encourage you to join groups such as IFMA or the Research Chefs Association (culinology.org) to learn alongside your peers. Likewise, plan next year to try for a National Restaurant Association Food and Beverage Award (FABI)—and you might just end up on Prepared Foods’ cover next August!

Transforming a Brand and Revolutionizing an Experience

Join us as Prepared Foods presents its 34th annual New Products Conference!

Ripe for Disruption

Speakers Include:

Just Announced! Koel Thomae, Co-Founder, Noosa Yoghurt

• Nancy Giordano, founder of Play Big Inc.

• Rick Lenny, Chairman, IRI (formerly chairman of Hershey Company)

• Jon Sebastiani, CEO, Sonoma Brands (founder of KRAVE jerky)

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

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

• Lisa Thorsten, Campbell Soup, Director-Global Regulatory Affairs

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

• Pat Crowley, Founder, Chapul (cricket bars!)

• Chastity Prince McLeod, Packaging Group Manager, Nestlé R&D Solon

• Craig Dubitsky, Founder and CEO, Hello Products (design thinking)

• Michael Parisi, Vice President, Marketing, barkTHINS

• Doug Cornille, Vice President, Marketing, PowerBar

• Barb Stuckey, President and Chief Innovation Officer, Mattson

• Rachel Cheatham, PhD, Founder & CEO, Foodscape Group (nutrition)

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

• Live Millennial Consumer Panel with Maeve Webster, Menu Matters

Prepared Foods’ New Products Conference has arranged a special rate of $189 plus tax per night for attendees at Naples Grande in Naples, Florida. Make plans to attend now ensure availability. Register today and save $300!

For more information, visit www.NewProductsConference.com or contact Marge Whalen at 847-405-4071 or whalenm@bnpmedia.com.