Product Development Trends

by Theresa Cogswell
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Developing the right new products and marketing them is difficult in good times. Enter a down economy, and there are even more challenges to be concerned with. Knowing what the trends for 2009 will be, and staying on track, can feel like a crap shoot as well. So which approach will you and your development and marketing team take? Will it be the MORE approach or LESS approach? MORE product development could include adding: • Prebiotics • Probiotics • Omega-3 fatty acids • Vitamin D • Whole grains LESS product development could include reducing or eliminating: • Azodicarbonamide (ADA) • "Chemical"-sounding ingredients, i.e., taking a "natural" or clean label approach instead • Sodium • Trans fats Each of us involved in product development is also a consumer. So how would you choose to spend your money in this economy? Do you want MORE or LESS for your money? Whatever your answer, there is another piece to the puzzle. The new product must be seen as a "good value." Increasing the perceived value of your product is an ideal way to build consumer loyalty. Here’s an example from each category. In the MORE category, let’s look at the addition of vitamin D. There are several ways to get vitamin D, including sunshine and vitamin D-enriched milk. But how about adding value to your baked foods through its addition? Plenty of suppliers will put together vitamin blends for enrichment. There is also vitamin D-enhanced yeast on the market. The amount of vitamin D in the yeast can be adjusted to match the delivery amount desired, based on serving size. So the next time there is information in the news about the benefits of vitamin D, and there has been quite a bit lately, consumers will be pleased to see that their bread contains MORE vitamin D. The LESS side of product development is a bit more difficult because it often involves reducing a negative ingredient. But a statement that indicates, for example, that the product "Now 50% lower in sodium," is a positive for consumers who are on low-sodium diets or have high blood pressure. Other LESS ingredient changes are not as easy to market directly to the consumer. For those of us in the baking and milling industry, azodicarbonamide (ADA) is a common everyday ingredient that has been used as a flour-maturing agent or dough conditioner for decades. Typically we don’t give the word a second thought, especially because it has been considered a processing aid and likely not listed on the ingredient legend. In the past few months, the Food and Drug Administration has made it very clear that it believes ADA positively affects the volume of baked foods and, hence, is more than a processing aid. So labeling of ADA is now required — unless, of course, you want to follow the LESS approach to product development and remove ADA from your products. While it is unlikely that you call out, "Does Not Contain Azodicarbonamide," on the front of the package, not listing the ingredient on the package is one approach. It is the perception of the ingredient and how consumers will respond to its listing on the ingredient legend that we must consider. So product development people must determine if LESS is more or if MORE is more when it comes to developing new products. And remember to ask what will bring value to your consumers during down times. END

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Baking & Snack

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