Keep Innovating in the Recession

Articles
February 18, 2010

Keep Innovating in the Recession

The recession drained food and beverage manufacturers of their will to innovate in 2009, suggests the latest Mintel Global New Product Database.

The recession drained food and beverage manufacturers of their will to innovate in 2009, suggests the latest Mintel Global New Product Database.  The newest Mintel figures show a dramatic 30% slide in food and drink product launches compared with 2008.

The slowdown was especially evident in two places: in the activity of small companies that often differentiate themselves through new products, and in the natural and organic segments. Food and drink introductions with an all-natural claim dipped from 15% of all launches in 2008 to 13% in 2009. The organic claim edged down similarly from 12% of all launches in 2008 to 10% in 2009, Mintel reported.

Noting this was the first large-scale decline in new product introductions to the United States market in the past decade, Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel’s top new products expert, said the economy caused small manufacturers to stop or slow their introductions, and other categories were over-saturated.

Nevertheless, some food and beverage segments grew in new product introductions in 2009:

  • Items with an economy claim soared by 72%.
  • Ethical and environmental claims rose from 9% of all launches in 2008 to 17% in 2009.
  • There were 16% more launches of side dishes in 2009 vs. 2008.

Our view at SupermarketGuru.com:  The companies that will emerge strongest in the economic rebound will be those that invest in innovation when times are tough.  Retailers still want to be first in their markets with well-conceived new products that make life easier or more enjoyable for consumers, and that enhance category performance. Consumers who eat out less and compromise often to meet their household budgets appreciate the help that comes from innovative products bringing a new kick to meals and more pleasant ways to feed the family.

Innovation that adds value never goes out of style. Before cutting out true newness, why not save money elsewhere first?