Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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association news Highlights from the Specialty Food Business Summit T he annual Specialty Food Business Summit, which this year was presented as a Product Development Boot Camp, took place from April 8-10 in Dallas. "Innovation is the lifeblood of the specialty food world, but it is hard to do it flawlessly," said Lee Zalben of Peanut Butter & Company, and chair of the Specialty Food Association's Producer/Supplier Council, which helped develop the event. The Summit's Product Development Boot Camp provided the tools to help makers do so, he said. The Summit included networking opportunities and kicked off with a reception where attendees were encouraged to fill a bingo card by finding fellow makers who had done things such as eaten poutine in the last three years, could name more than seven Texas sports teams, or had been a member of the SFA for less than one year. Each attendee who got bingo won a prize and new bonds were forged along the way. The first day's roster of speakers took attendees through critical points in the product development process, including the food, flavor, and culture trends currently driving consumer purchases; how to start R&D; using syndicated data in decision-making; project management processes; sensory evaluation; and more. The variations of product development was a theme throughout the day. In the opening session, "How Do I Start? Professional Product Development Secrets from the Country's Most Successful R&D Firm," Barb Stuckey, vice president of Mattson, advised com- panies to think through an innovation strategy. "If you want to do something that already exists— that's new-to-you innovation," she said. "New-to- the-world innovation is also known as really hard. It's expensive to explain to consumers what you're doing." Stuckey recommended that companies seeking new-to-the-world innovation keep a foot in the famil- iar. In other words, think more in line with cookies made with cricket flour rather than chocolate you inhale. "The most important thing is for consumers to articulate a need or desire for the product," she added. Don't discount product development that is not breakthrough innovation, urged speakers. "When you introduce a product that is new to you, you are devel- oping a new capability inside your organization. That adds value," said Michelle Jones of Stage-Gate, a proj- ect management methodology, in her session, "How Do I Plan It? From Idea to Launch" (see feature, p. 140). Attendees also chose from one of three tracks dur- ing the final day of the program, including 1. Managing Regulatory Compliance, Quality, and Safety in New Product Development; 2. Selling Your New Product: Retail, E-commerce, and Distribution Strategies; or 3. Marketing Your New Product: Get the Word Out and Build a Campaign. Experts touched on a variety of subjects within each track including food safety, label anatomy, and traceability; sales strategies for retail and e-commerce; and marketing, public relations, and social media. Didn't attend the Summit but want to learn more? You can purchase videos of the sessions at learning.specialtyfood.com. "The most important thing is for consumers to articulate a need or desire for the product." 26 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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