I have been attending the Food Marketing Institute Convention since I was a teenager. Walking the exhibit floor with my dad was easily one of the most exciting food events of the year. Having the opportunity to see and taste new products well before they appeared on store shelves gave me an inside edge to impress my high school friends.
The new-product introduction world has changed dramatically since then. No longer can brands wait for an annual convention to showcase their wares and impress supermarket buyers. With the competition for shelf space at an all-time high, brands must reach out to retailers proactively, rather than hoping they will stop by their booth — no matter how lavish.
New food and beverage introductions are the lifeblood of our food world; our recent SupermarketGuru NGA Consumer Panel Survey found that a quarter of shoppers want “more variety, better choice and more assortment” of products on the store shelves.
It is safe to say that many people just get bored with eating the same foods day after day. Food has become the new universal language! With the proliferation of food bloggers and people taking photos of their foods to post on Facebook and Twitter it is clear to me that the level of interest in our foods is at the highest it has ever been.
Which is why it is critical for our brands and supermarkets to innovate.
Although foodservice dollar sales have declined from their all-time high, mostly due to the economy, consumers look at restaurants leading the way in the food world rather than our supermarkets. And that needs to change.
Yes there is no doubt that our brands develop new products — but just how many are new? And how many are just additional flavors or line extensions? We should strive for fewer “new” products and more “innovative” products.
The supermarkets would then have the space (and desire?) to celebrate these products, rather than just adding them to the shelf and hoping that a coupon or ad will drive shoppers to find them. For new products to be successful there must be a true partnership between brand and retailer. As you survey this year’s FMI exhibits for new foods and beverages, take note of which ones are worthy to celebrate!