New Research Reveals Increase in NPD and Innovation for Food Brands Despite Outdated Internal Manual Processes, Rising Costs and Ingredient Sourcing Bottlenecks

Findings from TraceGains “R&D and Product Innovation” Report Show Jump in NPD from 64% to 76%, Greater Supply Chain Traceability and Rise in ESG and Sustainable Ingredients

WESTMINSTER, Co., March 25, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — TraceGains, a pioneering force in integrated compliance, nutritional calculation and labeling, and new product development (NPD) software for the food and beverage industry, today released its latest survey report, R&D and Product Innovation in the Food and Beverage Industry. Based on responses from more than 250 global food and beverage leaders, TraceGains found that despite outdated manual processes being a challenge for many brands, 76% are planning to up their NPD spend in 2024, a 12% jump over last year when 64% invested in product development. Brands are also walking the talk when it comes to ESG initiatives. Following a rise in ESG awareness from 64% in this August 2023 report, 44% are now prioritizing supply chain traceability, 42% are using sustainable ingredients, while 48% believe sustainable packaging will be a large innovation driver in the months ahead.


Brands Are Ready to Act, But Are They Prepared?

Amid signs of progress after a few challenging years for the food and beverage supply chain, brands are planning to dial up product innovation efforts to meet consumer demand (42%), combat rising costs (46%), and stay competitive (51%). Even with their enthusiasm, however, 56% of brands reported a lack of internal tools to manage product formulations and recipes, highlighting a clear need for solutions to help automate and streamline work.

Other key findings from TraceGains’ latest report include:

  • Brands are still concerned over macroeconomic factors that could impact their planned investments, from rising production and labor costs (58%), fluctuating demand and commodity pricing (53%), availability of ingredients and materials (46%), challenges with talent acquisition (36%) and a lack of regulatory clarity (28%).

  • When it comes to managing product formulas and recipes, over one-third (37%) of brands still rely on manual processes, 25% are struggling with staffing challenges, and 23% acknowledge working on outdated technology platforms.

  • Brands recognize that harnessing AI is critical to stay competitive: more than one-third (36%) are already testing the waters for NPD. Another 53% are considering AI for sourcing ingredients and materials, as well as formulating products.

  • Many brands are opting to keep portions of the R&D process in-house to protect recipe formulations and intellectual property (IP), including product concept ideation (70%), recipe formulations (74%), ingredient selections (70%), product development (73%) and packaging (57%).

  • More than half (60%) of brands think “better for you” formulations will be the main innovation driver in the months ahead. 

  • Another 32% are banking on plant-based animal alternatives and 26% will prioritize water and / or carbon-neutral strategies.

“Our research reveals a clear imperative for brands to invest in product innovation as numerous transformative shifts coalesce across the industry forcing them to act,” said Paul Bradley, Senior Director, Product Marketing. “While it’s evident that brands require robust tools and solutions to navigate these challenges, a significant gap still exists in internal resources that may hinder their progress. At TraceGains, we’re committed to empowering brands with the technology and insights needed to thrive in this fast-moving industry.”

To learn more about how food and beverage companies can streamline and automate their efforts around product innovation, visit

Survey Methodology

From February 5, 2024, through February 22, 2024, TraceGains conducted an online survey of 261 food and beverage leaders at small and large food brands worldwide.

About TraceGains

TraceGains is revolutionizing the food and beverage industry with advanced and integrated digital solutions for compliance, nutritional calculation and labeling, and new product development. Trusted by over 1,200 global clients, including half of the global top 100 food and beverage manufacturers, the TraceGains network connects brands via a vast ecosystem of 73,000 supplier locations, along with a comprehensive database of half a million ingredients and products. Enriched with global horizon scanning and ESG information, TraceGains offers streamlined processes and automated insights to navigate the complexities of the global food and beverage markets.

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