Like it or not, some changes we need often come from an outside perspective. This happened years ago when a personal friend, a Prepared Foods reader and my everyday jogging pal, said my “youngish” photo on this viewpoint page—looked nothing like the actual, aging Bob Garrison.

Ouch. Of course, I told him he was crazy. Yet it forced me to take a longer, literal view in the mirror and reluctantly admit that time was passing and my appearance was changing.

Our Prepared Foods team recently shared the same experience when we deconstructed and recast our annual New Products Conference (now in its 36th year). We hired an outside meetings and marketing specialist who challenged us to re-examine every aspect of our conference goals, planning and decision making.

That exercise made us realize just how much new product development has changed and evolved. Markets have changed (e-commerce, home delivery, etc.). Consumer insight data gathering has changed (now also leveraging artificial intelligence). Where you find new ideas—and capital investment for those new ideas—has changed. The “who” and “how” behind new products also has changed, with more multi-functional input and integration. Even many of today’s job titles are different from those just a decade ago.

Prepared Foods Rebranding Poll

So we recast nearly every aspect of the Prepared Foods’ New Products Conference. Interestingly, after a successful 2017, we received a compliment from a packaging executive who attended the meeting. That was great because we have been adding packaging to our agenda and emphasizing the intersection between R&D and packaging. Then this supplier added that she initially thought Prepared Foods’ name implied supermarket deli prepared foods.

Ouch. That comment had us asking ourselves, “Short of changing such a well-known brand name, what we can redo to reframe the Prepared Foods experience—both in print and online—to reflect our updated mission?” That led us to this redesign, or a “make-over” if you will, which is more than what I could do for my personal appearance.

What’s Not Changing: We still believe product development’s basic tenets remain the same—involving steps of ideation/discovery, prototype development, ingredient matrix development, supplier search and supplier selection. We’re also keeping our core trends and technology content—targeted to marketing and consumer insights professionals, corporate research chefs, food scientists, vice presidents of R&D, heads of nutrition, purchasing, quality and safety. We believe no other business-to-business title provides you with the same depth and breadth of content.

What Is Changing: From a new, integrated tagline (R&D Insights and Innovations) to new graphics, we want everything about your reading experience to be engaging and educational. Meanwhile, we’re determined to devote more coverage to the topics and trends that impact you: packaging, sustainability, food safety and new technologies. Moreover, you’ll see us covering distinctive growth markets such as pet foods and even the dynamic, emerging market for recreational and medical cannabis foods and beverages.

We hope you like Prepared Foods’ new look and new reading experience. And please do share your thoughts and feedback directly with me at or take our rebranding poll at