Feedback Fuels Innovation

Harnessing the power of consumer voices reveals a blueprint for breakthroughs, propelling produce companies toward groundbreaking innovation advances.

by Melissa Mackay, VP of North American Marketing, Fresh Del Monte

For companies, innovation isn’t negotiable. When polled, 84% of executives thought that innovation was critical to their future success, according to Accenture.

In today’s world, there is always something new coming, so how do companies keep up? Simple: They continue to innovate on products, processes and technologies. Not only do companies need to use innovation to adapt and overcome challenges, but innovation also keeps consumers engaged and interested in their products and their company as a whole.

Every year, 30,000 new products are introduced, but according to Harvard Business School, 95% of product innovations fail. This shows how companies continue to try new things, fail, pivot, and come up with something better. They keep a robust pipeline and have a willingness to ‘fail fast’ when needed.

A main driver of innovation is undoubtedly the target consumer market. Accenture notes that 65% of high-growth companies plan to collaborate with consumers during the innovation process.

By tapping customers and asking for their feedback, companies can better deliver products that will actually sell.

Before innovation was a buzzword, Fresh Del Monte heard consumers consistently asking for a sweeter, less tart pineapple. That’s why, in 1996, the Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet Pineapple was born — the first new pineapple variety since the Cayenne Pineapple — changing the way pineapples were consumed. In 1980, pineapple consumption in the United States was 1.5 pounds per person annually. By 1999 that figure doubled. It’s in the name, but the Del Monte Gold pineapple is sweeter than previous varieties, which is exactly what consumers were asking for.

Since then, Fresh Del Monte has launched its Pinkglow pineapple and Honeyglow pineapple to strong consumer demand.

Similarly, keeping an eye on consumer trends and insight data is another way to help inform product innovation and to understand what consumers are interested in buying.

Recently, Fresh Del Monte and Kraft Heinz teamed up to launch Lunchables with Fresh Fruit after seeing a 500% increase in social media searches for “Lunchables with fruits and vegetables” in the past year. While it’s too soon to look at consumer data, this new product was created based on consumers’ feedback and interest.

Similarly, Mann Packing, Fresh Del Monte’s vegetable division, debuted Mann’s Air Fryer Veggie Kit, seasoned veggies that are ready in less than eight minutes, in 2022 in response to the growing trend of the air fryer in American kitchens — more than 40% have one.

Now, coming up to a year after launch, Mann Packing is using consumer feedback to research improvements to a product’s packaging and size to improve it even further.

This ‘launch and learn’ mentality is beneficial when companies tap into consumer insights and have access to customer feedback so they can come back with a product that is even better than the original. By listening to consumers, companies can tweak products in a way that will resonate, and improve the chance for success.

Feedback comes from many different sources, including category reviews, customer relationships, category management data as well as consumer data. While it can be a lot of data to sort through, the takeaways are invaluable.

Start by listening to the customer you have the closest relationship with. Ask them for their opinion, what they are hearing and any data-driven insights they may have access to. Then dive into your own data and see what you can glean. Feedback is a gift, but only if you use it.