The Annual Prepared Foods’ New Products Conference

Healthy ChoiceThe annual Prepared Foods’ New Products Conference kicked off on Monday, Sept. 9 in Palm Beach, Fla. This is my third conference and the combination of an intimate setting, information-packed presentations and diverse food industry professionals make this a worthwhile event.

This year started off with a timely and informative keynote presentation by Rick Lenny. Rick is an accomplished industry veteran and former chairman, president and CEO of the Hershey Company, and former president of Nabisco Biscuit Company. The key theme of Rick’s presentation was “relevance,” and how important it is for companies and brands to maintain their relevance with consumers. This seems reasonable until, as Rick pointed out, in just over 20 years, half the companies that comprised the Dow are no longer on the Dow. Obviously, these companies didn’t plan for this to happen, but it did. Today, consumer-oriented companies dominate the Dow, and the big question is: How do companies today stay relevant for the future? To address this critical question, Rick laid out his E³ strategic framework: Enhance Relevance, Extend Reach and Enhance Growth.

Day two of the Prepared Foods’ Conference featured many informative presentations from a variety of talented executives. Dr. Scott Edgett, CEO and founder, Product Development Institute and Stage-Gate International; Bob Jones, CEO, Scientific Nutrition Products, Inc.; Kevin Higar, director of operator product development, Technomic; William Bigelow, VP business development/R&D and Jeff Wirtz, corporate executive chef, Blount Fine Foods; and Mike Helser, associate director, General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network.

Mintel, a platinum event sponsor, hosted two highly informative and fun events. During one event, conference attendees were able to sample over 60 products from around the world. Products from France, Japan, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain and the U.S. caught my attention:

  • Japan: Diet Black Coffee Jelly
  • U.S.: Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt
  • The Netherlands: Cyberry Healthy Eyes Beverage
  • United Kingdom: Tesco’s Choka Blok Premium Private Label Ice Cream
  • United Kingdom: Tesco’s Goodness Pasta Sauce with “Hidden Vegetables”
  • United Kingdom: Tilda’s Sweet Vegetable & Whole Grain Rice
  • Spain: Corpore Satiating Bars
  • U.S.: Assure Beverage
  • France: Casino Supermarket Packaged Cookies for Children

During another Mintel event, Lynn Dornblaser and David Jago presented their “10 Trends You Must Keep in Mind When Developing New Products” presentation. Lynn and David are two of Mintel’s top CPG experts and take high-level insights on market, consumer and product trends and boil them down to actionable takeaways for the attendees. Top 10 Trends we all should be mindful of in our new product development efforts are the following:

  1. Weight loss evolves into hunger management
  2. Everyone but consumers are focused on calories
  3. Smuggling fruit and vegetables into the diet
  4. Products for seniors are products for everyone
  5. “Economy” is more than just low price
  6. Private label ramps up innovation
  7. Taking out the “fake”
  8. “Green” isn’t just about recycling—it’s the whole supply chain
  9. Flavors go experimental and experiential
  10. Technology helps consumers “play” with their food

Lynn and David’s parting words of wisdom, “technology means connectivity, know that the powerful private label is here to stay, the food world has gone local, focus on the positives (positive features and benefits vs. calorie reduction and less fat), and most importantly keep it ‘simple’ is the driving theme across messaging to product features to benefits to ingredients.”

For Rocco’s full review of the conference visit the Franklin Foods website and blog.

Rocco Cardinale
Rocco Cardinale

Rocco has over 15 years of marketing and branding experience in the food and beverage, and consumer packaged goods industry. His background stretches from founding a coffee company in California to his current role as director of marketing with Franklin Foods, an innovative dairy manufacturer. Rocco’s marketing and branding successes have appeared in Bon Appetit, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, The Wall Street Journal and Wired Magazine. Connect with Rocco on LinkedIn and Twitter@RoccoCardinale.