May 22, 2013
By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson
Are your petfood products truly innovative? Do you have a system for product development in your company? While those two concepts might seem contradictory -- innovation and systems -- you need both to ensure robust new product development, according to Jeff Johnston, VP of research and innovation for Champion Petfoods.
Johnston presented his ideas and insights on new product development earlier this week at the Alltech 29th Annual International Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, reporting that Champion, based in Alberta, Canada, went from producing private-label, value-priced products to developing and producing its own high-end brands, Orijen and Acana. That process, which took several years, included establishing a business philosophy and model. Champion created a motto, "Biologically appropriate: nourish as nature intended," and decided that it would develop a dedicated, loyal supplier network and never outsource production. This meant also getting rid of ingredients and processes that no longer fit, Johnston said.
Basically, you have to build a system to achieve true innovation. Specifically, Johnston recommended that you:
Johnston also offered suggestions for where he thinks petfood companies can innovate, such as with sustainable ingredients, nutritional research, processes and safety. And he talked about how a company needs to commit to innovation and product development by dedicating people, money and focus, adding that how much you spend on R&D isn't as important as making sure the money is spent effectively.
In other words, Johnston said, be sure you're engaging in purpose development, which is all about maximizing fit with your business strategy while minimizing time to market.
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