...In the kitchen

News and Notes from the Innovation Center to the Production Floor and Beyond

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Product Development is about the People

  • By Stefani LiDestri
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Not everyone believes me when I say one key to successful product development is having fun. As in “can’t wait to get to work today” fun. However, I fully recognize that we’re spoiled here.

The LiDestri Innovation Center is filled with “lifers” – development experts with decades of experience and up and comers eager to make their mark. Our partners often tell us how much enjoyment and inspiration comes with working with the LiDestri R&D team. Whether we’re brainstorming new concepts or testing improvements for existing products, our innovators bring a level of curiosity and grit that allows for unexpected and unparalleled results.

Our innovation space, often called a playground for brand developers, is home to an ultra-modern, professionally-stocked kitchen, tasting room and a Pilot Room with scaled-down processing and packaging equipment for experimenting at a much smaller scale than on our commercial production lines.

What drives us here is an untamed competitive nature to stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the world of food, drink and spirits. For example, in the next few months we’ll be announcing a new line of organic beef products called 55 Farmers™. The initial launch will include frozen meatballs, beef bites and sticks, with all the meat sourced from organic farmlands in Australia.

Of course, salsa isn’t new, we’ve been making it for more than 40 years and currently produce more than 50 different salsa products. What is exciting are the newest of the fresh flavors we offer including Smoky Peach, Chipotle & Roasted Tomato, Hatch Valley Chili and we also produce organic salsas.

Currently there is a shift in private label to more premium and organic sauces and marinades. Premium salsas represent a fairly small segment of the market, but what’s promising is that their growth and contribution to the category is disproportionate to the size of the category. We see nothing but blue skies for these and other organic products.

Shift your mind to Spirits for a moment. Remember the rapidly elevating category of Whiskey? Well, we’ve found a space that our crew has been able to capitalize on big time, flavored whiskey for the wanna be whiskey drinker. Our expert developers were asked to find the perfect balance of grains and create approachable flavor and notes. My take, they knocked it out of the park! This is a gateway spirit to happily transition white spirit drinkers to brown liquor, appropriately branded Cask & Crew.

Now, let’s transition from organic edibles and whiskey to apple cider vinegar beverages! No, we’re not playing “One of these things is not like the other.” In our family of products, they all fit a certain profile: they’re on trend and rapidly being discovered by consumers, which has resulted in an uptick in consumer consumption.

We don’t sell just another apple cider vinegar (or ACV as they’re called), instead we captured the next generation of ACV by creating a sipping beverage in a unique package. It’s called Vimin™ -- an organic sipping drink containing the daily dosage of 2 TBL of ACV, in three amazing flavors. It’s a low-calorie beverage that goes down smooth without the “burn.” Check out Vimin’s website to get the full story on why it’s so special: sipvimin.com.

In some cases, it’s not the product that’s innovative, it’s how the product is created. When we saw the good-for-you lifestyle movement gaining traction we knew immediately that our clients would need fresh, innovative ways to produce and package these healthy products. We took the major step of adding High Pressure Processing (or HPP) to our Lee Road facility in Rochester, NY. My colleague Lindsay Rinefierd wrote about the technology in a recent blog. The bottom line is that it applies up to 87,000 pounds of water pressure on sealed products. The result is a product that can have a much cleaner label, maintain its healthy attributes and still achieve the same shelf life or even greater as those using preservatives.

Learn more about LiDestri’s approach to product development on our website’s new Innovation section. And if you happen to be looking to partner with a company fueled by passion and curiosity, that formulates and manufactures innovative food, beverage and spirits for its national and retailer brand partners, and have some real fun while doing it…let’s talk.

    • Stefani LiDestri

      About the author

      Stefani LiDestri
      Co-President and Chief Marketing Officer

      Stefani LiDestri is the Co-President and Chief Marketing Officer of LiDestri Food & Drink—an innovator in food, beverage and spirits manufacturing.