New Product Launches Down 30 Percent in '09

February 1, 2010
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According to Mintel's Global New Product Database (GNPD), U.S. food and drink product launches plummeted 30 percent from 2008 to 2009, marking one of the most significant declines in new product introductions in recent history.

A new report from Mintel International Group Ltd., Chicago, reveals the recession took a heavy toll on U.S. food and drink manufacturers' product development efforts. According to the company's Global New Product Database (GNPD), food and drink product launches plummeted 30 percent from 2008 to 2009, marking one of the most significant declines in new product introductions in recent history.

"In the last decade, Mintel GNPD has only tracked occasional, small declines in new product introductions for the U.S. market, never a decline as strong as this,” said Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel’s new product expert. “We see that a number of small companies, which typically introduce a wide range of products, have stopped or slowed their introductions due to the economy."

However, she noted, the recession is not the only culprit, as "some categories have simply become so over-saturated that there is little room for new products."

Despite the decline, certain segments did see an increase in new product activity, including the side dishes category, where the number of product launches jumped 16 percent from 2008 to 2009, most likely resulting from the introduction of more convenient solutions (think steam bags for vegetables), as well as an increase in at-home dining.

Mintel also reported an increase in new products with certain on-package claims. For example, the number of new products carrying ethical and environmental claims grew from 9 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2009. Growth was especially strong among products that claimed environmentally friendly packaging, the number of which jumped from 3 percent of all new products in 2008 to 9 percent last year. Not surprisingly, the number of new products boasting an economy claim also increased from year to year.

Among the biggest losers: natural and organic products, which have higher price points that did not make as much sense during the recession. According to Mintel, the number of new product launches with an all-natural claim fell from 15 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2009, while the number of new items with an organic claim slid from 12 percent in 2008 to 10 percent last year.

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