Innovative NPD Workbook for Food & Drink Sector Companies

Food Chains for Competitive Advantage (FCCA), an initiative supported by Bord Bia and part of the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) has just launched a practical guide to new product development, specifically designed for Irish Food & Drink SMEs. Heike Owens, project manager says: “We are delighted to launch our food and drink NPD guide which we hope will help many Irish SMEs manage the NPD process efficiently in a way that minimises risk and maximises the chances of success”.

Over the last three years the IEA has been working with 25 Irish food & drink SMEs on a variety of new product development projects. This was part of an EU funded programme – Food Chains for Competitive Advantage (FCCA), which was further supported by Bord Bia.

Some of Ireland’s best food & drink companies have taken part in the programme with the goal to launch an innovative new product. The impressive list of companies includes amongst others: Stable Diet Kitchen, Mc Cambridge, Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese, Brodericks, Freshcut Foods, Sushi King, Newgrange Gold and the Good Fish Company.

Conor Mulhall, from the Little Milk Company, explains: “ At the Little Milk Company we always have lots of new ideas for products as we know how important innovation is. Being on the FCCA programme has allowed us to structure these and make sure we are not missing the vital step in the process”.

The FCCA programme included a series of workshops, study tours to Birmingham and London, a stand at the Ploughing Championship in 2013 and one-to-one tailor-made mentoring.

According to Paul Hogan, owner of Hogans Farm: “The various workshops provide an insight into the different approaches to NPD and the identification of opportunities. They also provide tools to manage the projects including information on industry laws and regulations in the various markets. This training is then backed up with guidance from mentors who assist you from the beginning of the conception of the idea, through to the launch. We have found the training provided throughout the programme extremely beneficial to the overall NPD process and are now in the middle of working on exciting new product developments.”

The NPD workbook follows a stage gate process from idea generation to the launch of a new product. It provides a systematic approach to food & drink NPD, practical tips, and a series of forms to aid NPD documentation.

“ It is a process that we have tried and tested and fine-tuned over the last three years. We believe it is the first time that a guide like this has been put together” Heike Owens commented.

Simon Mc Keever, CEO of the IEA, hopes that the NPD Workbook will assist and guide many more Irish food & drink companies through the NPD process and he stresses that “we need Irish companies to develop innovative new products that are successful on the Irish and international markets.”