Innovate or Die!

2021 was an interesting year. We moved to Santa Rosa, CA, I ended my career in distribution and started Grow Foodservice to consult vendors in the foodservice world. I’ve talked to many entrepreneurs about their products. Many are fascinating & some some are not so much…

The new year gives us an opportunity to think about change & Improvements. My changes revolve around a healthier lifestyle, clarifying objectives and plans, along with outreach (gotta grow, right?)

What makes YOUR innovation matter? Your product needs to have a strong point of difference to have it stand out.  Ideally, your product makes people say, “why didn’t I think of that!”

With the supply chain disasters of the past year, some companies slowed innovation to manage the “blocking and tackling” of day-to-day business. It’s understandable. If you can’t get existing products to customers, why look at product innovation?

After nearly 2 years of covid, we have seen some signs of improvement.

2022 will be the year of innovation. If you don’t innovate, you do risk becoming irrelevant.  Here are some things I’m seeing and thinking about when it comes to innovation.


What information do you use to bring new food products or flavors to market? What will consumers want in the next few months? I used to go off my gut instinct. Then tools became available that showed trending flavors. Now, there is a company that gathers information from over a million menus in the U.S., all the top delivery services and  billions of data points in social media. With this information you can catch an early trend, speed product development, and get your items to market FIRST!


I grew up with my mom baking all the time! Her dad was a pastry chef from Sweden and finished his career in Minneapolis with his own bakery, Hugo’s Bakery. I love sweets!

The food industry added sugar to products to make them taste better. Now, Americans consume sugar at over 5 times the recommended rate. Diabetes effects more than one of ten Americans. We have a health crisis.

The food industry needs to take lead on reducing sugar consumption. I’ve been a part of the food industry for over 40 years, so when I say we, I mean WE need to play our part in improving the obesity and diabetes problems in America. There is now a sugar substitute that can replace sugar pound for pound in a recipe, tastes great and is high fiber! R&D teams should be investigating alternatives to reduce sugar and calorie consumption.


Recently, I’ve had a couple conversations with an Italian guy that has hemp seed pasta. My first thought was why hemp? It turns out, hemp flour has been used for millennia in certain parts of Italy! When I received samples from my new Italian friend. His pasta was fantastic! The pasta is a mix of hemp and durum semolina flours.

We bought some hemp pasta at a nearby natural food store and had a completely different experience. The product had an unnatural flavor & we tossed it! I asked my friend why we had two completely different experiences. The answer is quality ingredients! For foodies, you know this story. Great ingredients make great products. His pasta was delicious with just a little oil, garlic and some sausage on top! You can look back in history to find great ideas, too!

Send a private message if you’d like to know more about any of the above products. No obligations in just having a conversation.

What great, innovative ideas are you seeing?

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