I realize you already may be in the middle of fiscal 2019, yet I believe there’s something noteworthy in turning the page on a calendar year. Perhaps it’s simply that holidays and vacations (hopefully) offer respite, a moment to downshift, an opportunity to pause and hit “refresh.”

This is a time when my wife—an unabashed book lover, introvert and deeper thinker—reviews personal journal entries, lists new goals and quietly huddles with more books. She shares this comment with me from Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke: “And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”

That quote certainly speaks to me. This is when I’ll take the opportunity to more carefully and critically review our preceding December issue of “2019 Predictions.” We asked some industry’s leading observers to write about “things that have never been” and I’m keen for another chance to more carefully consider more than 20 separate articles about what’s next for consumers, culinary trends, ingredients, packaging, nutrition, sustainability and market channels.

Here are three topics that resonate with me.

• Growing Interest in “Clean” Packaging: Prepared Foods’ 2018 New Products Conference (NPC) included a presentation from Linda Gilbert, CEO at EcoFocus Worldwide. She said more consumers are taking a more wholistic approach to clean label and considering sustainable packaging elements too. At a time when some US towns don’t even offer recycling and the US sends recyclables as far away as China—might more compostable, plant-based packages be a better future choice?

• Upcycling of Former Waste Stream Ingredients: Another NPC presentation involved Rizal Hamdallah, head of a new Innovation Lab within Tyson Foods. He discussed Tyson’s new  Yappah! snacks, which utilize spent grains, upcycled chicken breast meat and rescued fruit and vegetable purees. In her December prediction, nutritionist Dr. Rachel Cheatham also highlights ingredient upcycling as a growth area.

• Growing Interest in Functional Foods, Drinks: Last month saw Mission Field’s Carolina Fryer talk about adding probiotics to refrigerated hot sauce, which in turn, was moving out to the store perimeter. In this month’s issue, Mintel writes about more consumers accepting and looking for functional ingredient benefits in their coffee. Whole Foods also shares its 2019 predictions in this issue and those also include probiotics entering nearly all center-store products.

Speaking of this month’s issue, we’re bringing you even more trend predictions on page 21. That’s where Whole Foods Market category managers, buyers and experts share their own top 10 trends for 2019.

What does this all mean for you? I think it’s perhaps now when R&D needs to mean “Revisit & Define.” Why not join me and review Prepared Foods’ December issue—along with the latest Whole Foods predictions—to consider how your latest new product activities line up? Is it time for a quick course correction or are your latest innovation efforts on track? In any case, I wish you success in 2019! 

New Products Conference
September 30 –October 2, 2019
Swissôtel Chicago

Save the Dates!

Whether it’s a local, national or international flavor that you’re looking for, Chicago provides“foodies” (like yourself) with a plethora of restaurant and market options to not only satisfy your tastebuds, but to also provide you with “food for thought” when it comes to your own products and services!

That’s why we’re proud to announce that Chicago will host Prepared Foods’ 37th Annual New Products Conference.

Scheduled next Sept. 30-Oct 2, 2019, New Products Conference showcases disruptive and thought-leading experts and companies who share insights about consumers as well as food and sales channel trends. Last year’s event helped attendees connect new product development to the worlds of e-commerce, artificial intelligence, plant-based foods, Millennial consumers, sustainability and functional foods. This year’s powerful three-day event promises these and many more topics.

New Products Conference activities (including a live “street dive”) and intimate setting help attendees network and build business relationships. Meanwhile the conference program is guaranteed to spark ideas and help participants go back and build their own businesses!

Visit www.newproductsconference.com regularly for updates on the 2019 program.