Stylish attractive woman is standing by the refrigerator with dairy products, holds yogurt in his hands and reads the label. An attractive girl buys a yogurt in a supermarket.

More than three in four (76%) of food and beverage brands are planning to invest more in new product development (NPD) this year, according to the latest R&D and Product Innovation report from TraceGains. This marks a 12% jump from last year (64%). 

Based on a survey of more than 250 global food and beverage leaders, the report highlights how brands are increasing innovation efforts to stay competitive (51%), manage cost increases (46%), and meet consumer demand (42%). 

A number of brands are looking toward AI technology to boost their competitiveness this year — 36% are already testing it for NPD, and 53% are considering it for ingredient sourcing and product formulation. However, outdated technologies and processes could slow their progress. More than half (56%) of respondents said they lack the internal tools to manage product formulations and recipes, 37% still lean on manual processes for managing formulas and recipes, and 23% said they’re using outdated technology platforms.

Other highlights from the new report include:

  • To safeguard recipe formulations and intellectual property, brands are keeping R&D processes like recipe formulations (74%), product development (73%), product concept ideation (70%), ingredient selections (70%), and packaging (57%) in-house.
  • As ESG awareness rises, brands are prioritizing supply chain traceability (44%), using of sustainable ingredients (42%), and focusing on water and/or carbon neutral strategies (26%).
  • Surveyed leaders believe “better for you” formulations (60%), sustainable packaging (48%), and plant-based animal alternatives (32%) will be among the biggest innovation drivers in the coming months.

Respondents also cited several concerns that could hinder their investment plans, including rising costs of production and labor (58%), unpredictable demand and commodity pricing (53%), ingredient and material availability (46%), talent acquisition struggles (36%), and an unclear regulatory landscape (28%).

Check out the full report to learn more about what’s driving and inhibiting NPD in the industry. 

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