December 20, 2010

Applauding the New Product Winners at Kosherfest

If you take a close look at the winners of this year’s New Products Competition, you are likely to recognize such common names as noodles, cookies, pasta, lasagna and borekas. While you might think that we are after all dealing with the familiar, this year’s roster of winners shows just how much can be done to enhance the familiar and make it an attractive option at point of purchase. Luck Chen’s noodles are not like the traditional lugshen (noodles) in that they have great texture and you can conveniently warm them in a microwave or in warm water. Sarah's Tent Potato Borekas that maintain the flaky crust but also adds the potatoes. Osem’s Bamba is not just Bamba anymore. Its Peanut Snack now comes with Hazelnut Cream Filling. And how about Get Healthy America's Lasagna Florentine.

The point is that we used to think of new products as being totally new, in name and content. In recent years, we’ve learned to appreciate the customer’s desire for variety. The same product with a different flavor, enhancing a product by adding another (i.e. a chocolate dipped pretzel), and combining tastes (i.e. the many new flavors and toppings of frozen pizza). We used to think that the customer was resistant to change, particularly when it comes to food and that tampering with the original was a prescription for disaster. We have since learned that consumers love it to the point where product enhancement has become a significant trigger for profits for many companies, particularly in the kosher food industry.
This year’s winners deserve more than the awards that they will receive at Kosherfest. They should be complimented for understanding the mindset of today’s shopper and the quest for the different, the exotic, and, of course, the more wholesome, natural, and healthier products. Mazal Tov to the winners.