Welcome to Prepared Foods’ annual Retail New Products Annual issue where we showcase on-trend and emerging ingredients, flavors and new product formats across all major retail product categories. Of course, you’re holding the in-print version and you can find more online at PreparedFoods.com.

I’m equally excited to tell you even more about another Prepared Foods “state of the industry” (SOI) offering—this time one designed to be the ultimate interactive, in-person event. I’ll note, however that this SOI stands for much more than “state of the industry.” In fact, it’s better billed as the “state of innovation” in food and beverage.  

This spring saw us finish our agenda for Prepared Foods’ 2019 New Products Conference, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the Swissotel in Chicago. Instead of covering trends in a category-by-category review, we’re covering the industry’s critical issues—by topic. Here’s just a teaser…

Emerging Product Platforms / Companies: Our opening keynote presenters, respectively, are Eric Schnell, Founder of BeyondBrands; and Clarence Mak, Mars Inc.’s Chief Marketing, Sales and Innovation Officer for Global Food. Schnell will share BeyondBrands’ investment and work with emerging companies across five platforms: food, beverage, plant medicine, well-being and nutraceuticals. Mak will discuss Mars’ “Seeds of Change” Innovation Accelerator and highlight the program’s first 10 honorees. Interestingly enough, Chicago also is home to one of the nation’s few innovation incubator programs: The Hatchery Chicago. Hatchery CEO Natalie Shmulik will discuss how this unique new facility helps entrepreneurs and new companies find everything from ingredients to investment.

Plant-Based Foods Revolution: Elohi Strategic Advisors Founder and Chairman Stephanie Lind leads a multi-dimensional panel discussion about where plant-based foods stakeholders can quickly identify and pursue new opportunities and technologies. Panelists include:

* Investment: Andrew Ive, Founder, General Partner for Big Idea Ventures & New Protein Fund

* Ingredients: Melissa Facchina, CEO, Siddhi Shot Corp., a New York, N.Y.

* Innovation: Todd Boyman, Co-Founder, CEO of Hungry Planet, a St. Louis manufacturer of plant-based chicken, ground-beef and burger alternatives

Cannabis-based Food & Beverage: Come hear an industry deep-dive perspective from CBD products developer Cannabistry Labs and its President Scott Mandel (former founder of Enjoy Life Foods); and Shehzad Hoosein, Executive Vice President.

Still more sessions will cover…

… sustainability: Panel discussions about sustainability as well as growing use of “upcycled ingredients” with executives from Tyson Innovation Labs (Yappah!) and ReGrained.

… improving innovation process, success: Hear Mission Field’s Carolina Fryer talk new product ideation with executives from GoodBelly/Next Foods. Josh Resnik, CEO of Minneapolis’ Wedge Co-Op (and former General Mills exec) shares grocery perspectives on innovative new products, categories. 

… consumer insights: Menu Matters’ Maeve Webster shares an in-depth, interactive look at Gen-Z consumers and their behaviors. Mintel representatives Lynn Dornblaser and David Jago examine how processors can better appeal to “mainstream” consumers. U&I Collaboration LLC shares a scientific look at how consumers perceive and talk about “texture.”

… product development and package design: Cutting-edge packaging design and technology—including  eye-tracking recognition—with R. Andrew Hurley, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Science, Clemson. Force PKG’s Partner Tom Newmaster also leads an interactive workshop about applying design thinking to new product and package ideation.

Learn more about these and other New Products Conference presentations at www.NewProductsConference.com and we look forward to seeing you in Chicago!