Outstanding companies use innovation to stay in front of the market and the competition. Alas, most innovations do not fall into your lap or come knocking on your door. Still, many business people seem to think that might happen. They watch the world from their desks, and base most of their decisions from that view. Perhaps they expect the same old marketing and controlling costs will be enough to boost their profits.
Accomplished businesspersons aggressively pursue innovations. They develop a systematic process to develop an innovation strategy containing three key components:
Analysis, Planning & Implementation
Analysis includes market research reports; assessing the health of your organization; finding out what your customers want; how your competitors operate; and finding out what the petfood industry's R&D trends are. Crucial to any analysis is upper-management, making face-to-face contact with experts, suppliers, retailers, existing customers and potential customers.
If you place undue resources on long-term planning, today's business will suffer. The ideal approach is to focus on the present to achieve growth and keep one eye on the future. Looking for innovations is important, but so is taking good care of current business.
Imagining the future
Companies tend to see their competitors as providers of similar products. Then the future throws them a curve ball. A helicopter service may be doing very well transporting people to an exclusive conference center. Then, high-quality videoconferencing cuts their customer base in half. Innovators concentrate on what their customers' requirements are likely to be in the future.
The customer's ideal
The core of what you are looking for is what the customer wants from you. Analyze why your customers buy from you and what their ideal is. Next, prioritize their needs to increase the odds of your strategy succeeding.
Paying close attention to what your customers say and what they really do is crucial. Formal and informal market research are important. Scientific journals and trade magazines are valuable resources. Perhaps some of the best hunting grounds are at symposia and exhibitions. For example, at Petfood Forum 2006, you can find useful contacts, ideas and innovations. You can network and discuss key issues. In the exhibition area, you can have an exceptional opportunity to evaluate a wide range of products (over 170 exhibits). As one attendee put it, "it is a Mecca for purchasers."
Testing the idea
Before committing to the production and launch of a new product, it is wise to test the idea. When projects involve different teams, the following list helps to keep the project on track and avoid problems.
After a process has passed to another team, it will still need to be monitored if it affects your customers. Documenting processes always leads to their improvement.
Again, the core of what you are looking for is what your current and potential customers want from you now, and in the future. Innovators concentrate on what their customers' requirements are likely to be in the future. Looking for those requirements at Petfood Forum 2006 is part of that quest. The following are summaries of the innovative presentations you will find there.
Petfood Forum 2006 will be at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The registration fee includes the four meals and two receptions listed in the schedule of events (see p. 25). In addition to our website (www.petfoodindustry.com), you can get more information about Petfood Forum by E-mailing Marcia Riddle at Riddle@wattmm.com (attendees) or Dee Henson at Henson@wattmm.com (exhibitors).
Make hotel reservations directly with the Hyatt by calling +1.847.696.1234 or faxing +1.847.698.0139. For a lower group rate (US$154), make reservations in the Petfood Forum block of rooms prior to March 15, 2006 and before the group block is filled.
Lean manufacturing is one of the most tested and powerful transformation methods today. However, most companies do not use it in a way that yields its full potential. Do you know the difference between fake and genuine lean? Jamie Flinchbaugh will explain. He is a co-founder of the Lean Learning Center, Novi, Michigan, USA.
Trade around the world has become a relatively level "playing field." Numerous technological advances and the lowering of political/trade barriers have made it possible to do business instantaneously with billions of people across the planet. Wallace Tyner, PhD will discuss what this means to your business. Dr. Tyner is the head of Purdue University's Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
How a company deals with a crisis can determine whether a brand or company survives. Stephen Payne of The Petfood Institute (USA), will share ideas for successful management of a crisis. He will also offer warnings on pitfalls and discuss how a trade association can help an industry overcome problems. Steve is The PFI's vice president of communications. He handles a variety of public relations and consumer affairs issues and manages The PFI Market Access Program, a USDA grant funded program to expand petfood exports overseas.
Over the years, many pet dental homecare programs have been advocated. Evidence of effectiveness is highly variable, however. S. Dru Forrester, DVM, Hill's Pet Nutrition, will discuss a recent Journal of Veterinary Dentistry report that evaluates various dental homecare methods. She will talk about current evidence that supports the use of dental petfoods, chew toys, dental treats, tooth brushing, zinc salts and other methods. Dr. Forrester received her DVM from Auburn University and completed an internship, small animal internal medicine residency, and Master of Science degree at Texas A&M University.
Benedikt Sas, PhD will describe the benefits of the probiotic Bacillus subtilis PB6 for companion animals. He will also discuss its safety aspects, mode of action and challenges regarding its application. Dr. Sas started as a chemistry manager for Kemin Europe agrifoods, looking after the discovery and development of new antimicrobials, biosurfactants and antioxidants for the agricultural and petfood businesses. In 2001, Kemin Pharma was founded, and he took on the responsibility as the president. Kemin Pharma focuses on the discovery and development of innovative concepts and drugs for the treatment of infectious diseases.
Dave Albrecht will discuss how to develop a purchasing strategy and how to analyze the industry and the supplier for maximum company benefit. Other points he will cover include negotiating, sourcing techniques, leveraging, regulatory compliance and purchasing contracts. Dave has over 20 years purchasing experience including Fortune 500 companies such as Proctor and Gamble (The Iams Company) and Campbell Soup. He is currently director of purchasing for Wells Dairy, a leading US ice cream manufacturer.
Obesity has become one of the most common nutritional disorders in cats. Obese cats suffer a wide range of health problems such as diabetes mellitus, thyroid dysfunction, and hepatic, urological and cardiac disorders. Hussein S. Hussein, PhD will explain the etiology of feline obesity, evaluate its health risks and identify strategies for its prevention. Dr. Hussein is an Associate Professor of Nutrition and Microbiology at the University of Nevada-Reno, USA.
David Lummis is the pet market analyst for Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com. and author of "Market Outlook," a monthly column in Pet Products News. His report will:
Odor can be a big problem for petfood manufacturers. Non-thermal "cold plasma" odor control is an advanced technology that has been successfully used by the petfood industry. Arne Thomas Haaland will present the basic principles, design considerations and practical experience with the petfood industry. Arne is with Applied Plasma Physics (APP) in Stavanger, Norway. APP has been working with Griffin Cardwell, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, since 2002.
Without the rendering industry, byproducts from meat and poultry processing would fill up landfills quickly and the decomposing waste would contaminate our soil and water. In the last decade, renderers have had more than their share of problems, especially related to Bovine Spongiform Encepahlopathy (BSE). Douglas P. Anderson will share his insights on the state of the rendering industry. Doug is vice president-rendering at Smithfield Foodsbased in Smithfield, Virginia, USAthe world's largest pork processor and producer. He holds officer-level positions with the National Renderers Association, the World Renderers Association and the North American Rendering TSE Coalition.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is considering an amendment of the Model Regulations that would require a calorie content statement on all dog and cat food labels. Dr. Dzanis will describe the label changes that could be required, as well as how pets, pet owners and manufacturers could benefit. Dzanis is a consultant for the petfood industry and a former petfood expert with the US Food and Drug Administration.
Ray Bachelor, a licensed professional engineer, founded Bachelor Controls, Inc. in 1983. His presentation will cover how to make better use of your production information, including:
Greg Aldrich, PhD will explore functional ingredients that fortify the antioxidant defense system.
Whether dog, cat, mouse or man, antioxidants are crucial to survival in an oxygenated world. Physiologically unchecked oxidation can lead to many disease states which are painful, chronic, and degenerative. Key metabolic antioxidants, such as glutathione peroxidase and ascorbic acid, have been shown to protect against oxidative damage. Dr. Aldrich is a nutrition consultant in the petfood industry.
Arielle de Jong, of TNO Nutrition and Food Research, will discuss a multi-discipline approach to petfood packaging. For example, it can combine expertise focused on:
Packaging can interact with petfood by actively regulating conditions, thereby extending shelf-life and improving safety and quality.
Sumitha Nair from Mintel International, will explore the global arena of new petfood products. She will analyze some of the trends that are gaining momentum within the category, including health, humanization and specialization. This presentation will also examine a few rapidly growing ingredient claims and innovative packaging opportunities, as well as present key regional drivers and a look at future trends. Sumitha is a senior consultant with Mintel International Mintel Custom Solutions. She provides strategic guidance and analysis to a diverse portfolio of consumer packaged goods clients.
Thomas Meyer is the secretary general of FEDIAF, the European association of individual country petfood manufacturer trade associations. He will describe how EU petfood regulations strive to achieve the best possible consumer protection and public health policy. Mr. Meyer will give the legal-technical background, summarize recent regulatory developments and elaborate in more detail on:
Thomas is a lawyer who has been Secretary General of FEDIAF since 1998.
Genetically-modified ingredients, meat and bone meals and othersyou know how these controversial ingredients affect your business now, but what about the future? This presentation goes beyond advocating a position. Juliet Zavon will use real-world examples and examine how such controversies can be expected to evolve over time and how businesses can prepare for the changes. Ms. Zavon is a multi-lingual management consultant. Her consultations cover new business opportunities, strategy, valuations, international operations, strategic alliances and competitive positioning.
Current research has found new and better ways to detect and detoxify mycotoxins. Recently, dozens of dogs in the US died after eating mycotoxin-contaminated, commercial petfoods. Timothy Phillips, PhD of Texas A&M University, a widely-respected mycotoxin researcher and expert, will discuss some of his recent findings and offer practical advice.
Petfood extrusion is a complex process that is often considered more of an art than a science. Despite its complexity, there is a systematic approach to understanding and training for extrusion by organizing the process into manageable topical areas. Brian Plattner, PE, manager of the Wenger Technical Center will cover:
He will examine how these topics impact the critical product characteristics such as shape and density. He will also give practical advice on how to manipulate the process variables to bring a final product back into specification.
Formulating with new flavors should be highly collaborative. Kantha Shelke will describe how successful initiatives involve marketers who provide the concept, flavor suppliers who provide the aroma compounds, flavorists who understand the material interactions, product developers who put it all together and plant operators who help ultimately to make the flavor system work. Kantha is a principal at Corpus Blue LLC, a Chicago firm that specializes in competitive intelligence and expert witness services.
The concept of good fats and bad fats is one that helps humans keep track of their dietary habits and heart disease risk. John E. Bauer, PhD, DVM will discuss how dogs and cats are different and able to withstand both types of fats in their diets. For them these fats are either facilitative or functional. Dr. Bauer is Professor of Small Animal Medicine and holds the Mark L. Morris Professorship of Clinical Nutrition at the Veterinary College of Texas A&M University. His areas of specialization are lipid biochemistry, disorders of lipid metabolism and comparative nutrition.
The Asian petfood market is dynamic and growing rapidly. Eric Combelles, Euromonitor International, will talk about the characteristics of this market. Japan dominates sales of dog and cat food. Growth in China, with the second largest dog and cat food sector in the region, has been buoyant due to the increasing popularity of mid-priced and premium dog and cat food. Mr. Combelles monitors the research for the petfood industry in Euromonitor's key 52 countries.
Information on a petfood label ranges from a statement as simple as that of net weight to recommendations for use as dietary therapy for some disease conditions. Manufacturers view a petfood label as an important aspect of the product as it communicates something about the nature of the product to the consumer. Dr. Dzanis will discuss why it is important that the consumer be aware of the valuable information on a petfood label. Dzanis is a consultant for the petfood industry and a former petfood expert with the US Food and Drug Administration.
Packaging analyst Ben Miyares is the vice president of industry relations at the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute. He will explain several ways for petfood manufacturers to increase packaging productivity, including:
Miyares is editor and publisher of Ben Miyares' Packaging Management UpdateÂ®, a weekly online resource from PMMI that tracks packaging materials and machinery technology trends.
Dr. Daniel Carey, director of technical communication in the R&D division of The Iams Company, will explain why he thinks animal welfare guidelines should not be proprietary. He believes that petfood companies need to compete in other areas: Innovating, processing and marketing. However, when it comes to animal welfare, he says petfood companies should be more open and transparent about what they are doing by:
By Lindsay Beaton
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