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New product winners and losers: The learning process

So, what do you do when a product flops? You certainly don’t give up.

Tristan Simpson, founder and CEO of tristan michele marketing, BB #:366330 a Los Alamitos, CA-based marketing consultancy, for example, changed directions and took over as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Ready Pac Foods, Inc., {{BB #114498}} based in Irwindale, CA.

Among some key achievements during her time at Ready Pac: doubling the size of Ready Pac’s Bistro Bowl Salads, implementing a product development process for the company, and developing four new products garnering $250 million in revenue over three years.

“I’m not afraid of my failures—says the woman who has had many!—and realize now they were all for a purpose,” Simpson reflects.

“Some of my ‘big’ ideas didn’t pan out initially,” she admits, “but did lead to a ‘build on the idea,’ which is really the beauty of innovation: to not get too locked into your own ideas but see where they go from where you started them.”

For Gina Nucci, former co-owner and director of marketing for Salinas, CA-based Mann Packing Company, Inc. BB #:114946 prior to its sale to Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. BB #:111187 in 2018, the next big thing was Nourish Bowls, a cherry on top of the company’s portfolio of value-added vegetables that helped cement Del Monte’s acquisition of Mann Packing.

Where Veggie Mac-n-Cheese failed in its simplicity, Nourish Bowls thrived with new, complex flavors that were difficult to achieve at home.

“We took something that was gaining popularity in the restaurant industry, which had yet to hit retail,” Nucci says. “There were some items in the frozen section, but not a lot.”

Mann Packing needed the right raw materials, “in fun, quick-cooking cuts to keep costs down,” Nucci points out, and the company found it in an unlikely vegetable has-been.

“We turned to a not-so-popular veggie, kohlrabi, which we had never grown in mass before,” she says. “It takes a long time, so our planning, rollout, and launch execution was dependent on Mother Nature.”

This is an excerpt from the cover story of the September/October 2021 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue.

Pamela Riemenschneider is Retail Editor for Blue Book Services