Product Innovation

Staying Ahead of the Curve With Product Innovation

Every year, commercial food producers and manufacturers spend a lot of time and resources on the development of new products that can appeal to both old and new customers alike. This trend isn’t likely to change this year, and in fact industry experts are expecting an even greater level of investment in 2024. As always, the direction of such innovations is being driven in part by changes in the preferences of consumers and a number of other factors. At Silva, we embrace these changes and look forward to providing the ingredients that can make innovative new recipes shine.

What Is Driving Innovation?

In any industry, competition for customers is naturally one of the biggest motivators for developing new products. Over the last few decades in the U.S., the features and attributes that can entice new consumers have changed significantly. Below are some of main factors that are currently driving innovation:

  • Health and wellness: With obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related conditions on the rise in America, there has perhaps never been a greater focus on food choices that are perceived as beneficial for health and wellbeing. Food and beverage producers have been creating more and more products with labels like gluten free, low fat, low calorie, and all natural in order to meet the rising demand for healthier options. This also includes fortified foods and foods with functional components like probiotics and antioxidants.
  • Sustainability and the environment: In light of climate change and other threats to the environment, more and more consumers are eager to find innovative products that align with their values. These consumers are drawn toward foods that are produced in a sustainable way, including aspects like the number of resources used in packaging or the amount of energy and water required to cultivate various plants.
  • Convenience: A variety of societal factors—like an increase in remote work and changes to relational dynamics—have prompted a greater interest in ready meals, protein bars, and a range of other convenience-oriented foods. In essence, consumers want healthy, environmentally friendly options that are also easy to prepare and fit into busy lives.
  • Globalization: One of the more exciting drivers of innovation is the effect of globalization on the development of new products. In recent decades, travel has gotten cheaper, and more people are visiting other countries in order to experience new flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques. This shift toward a more global perspective has led food manufacturers to include fruits and vegetables from many places that can cater to diverse consumer preferences and cultural tastes.

What’s New in the Marketplace?

As these drivers continue to reshape the food and beverage industry, we’ve watched as brands have rolled out a number of new products, including:

  • Vegetable puffs: Cheese puffs have been a popular snack item for a long time, but the typical ingredients aren’t generally thought of as “healthy.” The desire for more nutritionally robust versions of these light and airy snacks has led producers to vegetable puffs instead. Examples include broccoli, cauliflower, and corn. Besides offering a satisfying crunch, vegetable puffs are a good vehicle for additional flavors like jalapeños or sour cream and onion.
  • Sweet potato jerky: Part of the increased focus on health among consumers is related to the rising interest in plant-based foods. Meats like beef and pork, for instance, require production processes that have a relatively high carbon footprint. That’s why plant-based meat alternatives have become more popular. One example of such an alternative is sweet potato jerky, a chewy snack that’s both healthy and delicious; moreover, upcycled sweet potato parts can be used to produce them.
  • Veggie chips: Similar to the puffs noted above, fried chips are practically synonymous with the word “snack.” Yet while potatoes tend to be the go-to ingredient, there are many other vegetables that offer more nutrients and a more interesting flavor. Almost any kind of vegetable can be used to make snack chips, but some popular examples include kale, kelp, spinach, beet, carrot, and tomato. Additionally, many new veggie chip products are even healthier because they are baked rather than fried.
  • Spicy cheese: Another example of a product innovation is in snack cheese products. These creamy indulgences can be eaten by itself or easily spread onto a cracker, or used as a dip for celery sticks. They can also be vehicles for different flavors like spicy jalapeño peppers.

Silva’s Good-for-You Promise

At Silva, innovation is always on our minds. That’s one of the reasons we recently began offering product concept development, a service that helps you identify new ideas for the future. We will always continue to provide premium ingredients that are subject to a rigorous production process of cleaning, sorting, milling, and various treatment options, but now we are also thrilled to help develop new concepts that can be the groundwork for your next hit product.

One of our most important values is providing high quality products that are both good for your customers and good for your business. That is why we have developed our industry-leading production processes; it allows us to deliver the ingredients you need to deliver an end product worthy of your brand. If you’d like to learn more about any of our ingredients, or if you’d like to speak to someone about how Silva can help you create an innovative new recipe, please contact us today.