The Race to Shelves

Speed to Market Has Been a Growing Focus
Over the last decade, agility has become a key focus for both small “challenger” food and beverage brands as well as large national brands trying to stay ahead of the curve. Since 2010, mentions of “speed” or “agile” on earnings calls for major brands has increased over 500% (CB Insights 2020).


Source: CB Insights 2020; Mondelez International, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Tyson Foods, Nestle, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Kellogg Company, Campbell Soup Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Kraft Heinz Company.

Big food companies are known to take well over a year, sometimes over two years, to bring new products from the ideation phase to the shelf. As I have previously discussed, many companies are innovating faster with a consumer-first design process to stay on top of trends and consumer demands. With the added dimension of a sudden global pandemic that model is even further stressed.

The Lockdown Adds a New Dimension
During the global lockdown, many retailers and brands postponed shelf re-sets, slowed new item introduction planning, and even reduced SKU count to simplify supply chains. As we move towards the “next normal”, retailers will look to move quickly to add seasonal and limited-time-only items.

This puts renewed pressure on brands and manufacturers to increase new product speed to market, as those who respond quickly will be rewarded with shelf space and revived consumer attention.

Accelerating Product Development
In order to keep up with the rapidly shifting market, food and beverage leaders will need to take steps to accelerate product development and reduce time to market in a post-COVID world. But how?

Manufacturers may choose to re-launch previously successful LTOs to speed up time to market.
Food manufacturers will need greater turnkey support from ingredient suppliers in order to reduce development timelines.
Current stage-gate models will need to be modified to accommodate accelerated go-to-market requirements.

Here are a few specific recommendations for brands and manufacturers looking to accelerate new product development and successfully launch items faster than ever:

  • Partner with knowledgeable and reliable ingredient suppliers
  • Think about consumer interests and “wow” consumers with executable ideas
  • Don’t compromise on sensorial aspect of product experience
  • Understand the value of speed and quality


One way Sensient is providing turnkey support to our customers is through our new Virtual Interactive Visualization and Ingredient Development sessions— VIVD!

VIVID sessions are designed to supplement the formulation process and create an immediate and visual line of communication directly between our technical color experts and our customers’ R&D teams. Developers are able to provide immediate feedback to high-quality visuals and collaborate in real-time with color experts. This enables our customers to increase their speed to market for new and reformulated products and accelerate product development timelines.


See the studio and learn how your team could leverage this new tool in this video:

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