- Nielsen released its Top 25 Breakthrough Innovation winners for 2019 where 15 of the products mentioned were from food companies, PepsiCo’s bubly sparkling water and Mtn Dew DEW-S-A, Caulipower, Dave’s Killer Bread, Bagels, Flower Foods, Kraft’s Devour frozen foods and Just Crack an Egg microwavable breakfast bowls, Dunkin’ Donuts Bottled Iced Coffee from Coca-Cola, Ferrero’s Kinder Joy, Lamb Weston potatoes, Lay’s Poppables, Oui by Yoplait, Summer Edition Red Bull, Mondelez’s Ritz Crisp & Thins, RXBAR and White Claw Hard Seltzer.
- The recognition was given after Nielsen reviewed 45,000 products that launched in 2017 and evaluated them against their mass potential, longevity, brand incrementality, category distinction and appeal toward a specific consumer target.
- According to the release, Nielsen cited that a new product was launched every two minutes in the U.S., making innovation all the more important to stand out in a saturated field. It also noted that CPG unit volume sales have remained constant at around 1% growth rate year-over-year in the U.S.
Despite the rapid pace of product launches, only a handful may have staying power. This year, Nielsen applied its data and found that of the most innovative food and beverage companies, some of the ones with potentially higher market penetration appear to be hitting on trends within plant-based, packaging and beverages.
On the list are several innovations that tap into the plant-based space, which aligns with today’s consumers that are pushing for both healthier and more sustainable diets. A recent study from DuPont Nutrition & Health found that 52% of U.S. consumers are eating more plant-based foods and believe it makes them feel healthier. Caulipower and Dave’s Killer Bread brands tap into this market not only with plant-based protein but by showcasing the power of nutritious plants in the context of carbohydrates.
Other brands may have also stood out because of their packaging. Oui by Yoplait, Mtn Dew DEW-S-A and bubly sparkling water all reimagined their packaging to differentiate from the pack. As consumers demand more transparency, healthier ingredients and cleaner labels, more brands are catering to these requests and making sure their packaging reflects it. Oui used a glass container, bubly presented a sleek design and recyclable aluminum to speak to a younger demographic and Mountain Dew developed a limited-time only interactive packaging.
Going forward, it's likely to see more eye-catching, eco-friendly packaging that appeals on the shelf and captures loyal consumers by cultivating a better-for-you, sustainable image.
The noticeable number of beverages on the list, from red hot White Claw Hard Seltzer to Dunkin's bottled iced coffee, is a result of a rapidly changing beverage industry that is adapting to legacy alcohol sales slipping in favor of premium, low-alcohol and no-alcohol alternatives and a surge in functional beverages including kombucha and cannabis-infused water. Convenience also plays a major role in which brands fly off the shelves.
For companies to be successful, however, innovation must be done strategically. As Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio noted earlier in the year, having a "frenzy of innovation" over the last several years did not help the company as it struggles to bring up sales. That's a problem many CPG companies face today as they try to provide a product for everyone with little traction. According to market research firm IRI, more than 10,000 new products make it to retail shelves every year, and 90% fail to achieve the goals they set out to achieve. Less than ten reach $100 million or more in sales each year, according to the firm.