I know I have to get new products into the marketplace, but I keep hitting roadblocks. Are there any good resources to help with new product development?

Bill Haines, Vice President, Product Innovation, Dairy Management Inc.
Q: I know I have to get new products into the marketplace, but I keep hitting roadblocks. Are there any good resources to help with new product development?

A: In 2003, consumer product manufacturers introduced 33,678 new products to the U.S. market, according to Information Resources Inc., Chicago. And the rate of innovation is accelerating. The 2003 figure represents a 6% increase in new product rollouts over 2002, and a whopping 94% increase in introductions over the last decade.

That fast pace is necessary to make sure that enough new products survive to become profitable. If you can latch onto the right food trend with the right product at the right moment, the return on investment can be worth millions. While estimates place the failure rate at somewhere between 40% and 90% for product introductions, there are also plenty of success stories.

Fortunately, a wide variety of resources can help smooth the path from concept to market. Need expert guidance in new dairy processes or ingredients? Wonder about the latest dairy research and technology? Need to boost the protein content or nutritional profile of a product? Have questions regarding consumer trends? Need assistance with packaging and production scale-up? Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI) is ready to partner with you to help you innovate with dairy.

A phone call to DMI's Technical Support Hotline (800/248-8829) can connect you to our comprehensive technical support network. Typical questions include such things as, "What's the new research on the calcium equilibrium in cheese?" or "What are the functional advantages of hydrolyzed whey protein and where can I get it?" If we can answer your question over the phone or by return email, we do, calling upon our libraries and databases of research, technologies, formulations, nutrition information, marketing data, supplier contacts and more.

We also can assist with more extensive research and production-oriented inquiries such as, "I'm developing a low-carb frozen dessert and need help with the formulation" or "How can I get the flavor right in my prototype shelf-stable milk?" DMI's nationwide network includes two applications labs, six dairy research centers and more than 100 experts in applications, research, technology, nutrition and marketing.

DMI often works in cooperation with individual dairy processors and food and beverage manufacturers to support short- and long-term research projects on specific issues with business applications. All of the dairy research centers feature pilot plant facilities, and some also have dairy applications labs. Manufacturers can use these facilities to test formulations or processes for dairy products or other food and beverage products that contain milk, dairy proteins, cheese, dry milk and whey ingredients or milkfat.

About two years ago, a food manufacturer phoned DMI's Technical Support Hotline for assistance in formulating his high-protein frozen energy bar. DMI helped him team up with the applications lab at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo to solve his technical challenges with pasteurization. Later, we worked closely with him to help him satisfy federal guidelines for school lunch programs so that he could get his energy bar approved as an alternate protein source for school children. Today, this invention-Cold Fusion Frozen Protein Bars-is sold in 2,000 stores and schools, mostly in the western United States.

"The relationship with DMI allowed us to really improve the taste and texture of the product," says Collin Madden, Cold Fusion's inventor. "We're a small company. We just wouldn't have had the resources to do everything on our own that DMI enabled us to take on."

If we can be of assistance in creating new products with the versatile functionality and nutritional benefits of dairy, please don't hesitate to get in touch. On the road to successful innovation, every helping hand is welcome. Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI) is the domestic and international planning and management organization that builds demand for U.S.-produced dairy products on behalf of America's dairy farmers. For more information, call DMI's toll-free Technical Support Hotline, 800/248-8829, or visit www.extraordinarydairy.com.