The National Restaurant Association is seeking innovative food and beverage products that have made a significant impact on the industry, and will recognize these products at the 2011 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show May 21-24 at Chicago's McCormick Place.

An independent panel of expert judges will select the recipients of the inaugural Food & Beverage Product Innovations Awards.
 
The NRA is currently accepting applications from manufacturers who have made significant advancements and innovations in ingredients, preparation, processing and packaging of food and beverage products launched in the U.S. marketplace between January 1, 2010 and May 21, 2011.

The product may be designed for one, several or all operator segments. The awards will be presented in two categories: Healthier Products and Innovative & Impactful Products.
 
"Food and beverage innovation is a major driver of customer satisfaction and restaurant profitability. Manufacturers play a vital role in food and beverage product innovation," said David Gilbert, COO of the NRA. "To be successful, operators must continually seek and adopt new products and ideas, frequently originating from manufacturers. Understanding this, the National Restaurant Association is launching the new Food & Beverage Product Innovations Awards program to celebrate and encourage continued innovation from manufacturers, while identifying cutting-edge ideas operators can use to enhance their business."
 
For consideration, candidates must submit their application by March 28, 2011. Any new product submitted for consideration must meet one or more of the following general criteria:

  • New Product Introduction – product introduced to the U.S. marketplace on or after January 1, 2010 through May 21, 2011
  • Product Improvement – significant improvement to an existing product that is clearly recognizable by the operator
  • New Process or Preparation – a new way to produce an existing product that improves the product in some way – longer shelf life, better nutritional profile, more nutrient retention, meets new nutrition standards, etc.
  • Healthier Nutritional Profile – changes that significantly impact the nutritional profile of the product and can be validated
  • Packaging Improvement – a significant change in the packaging of the product that delivers clear benefits to the operator
  • Products Designed for Children – new products (and/or new formulations) specifically designed for tougher standards on student feeding
  • Incremental Value to the Operator – products that provide real value to operators in terms of price, cost savings, labor savings, time savings, increasing check average, etc.

The independent panel of expert judges for the Food & Beverage Product Innovations Awards will represent the major commercial and non-commercial segments of the foodservice industry.

All applications are reviewed by the panel of industry leaders, which includes Deborah McDaniel (senior director, menu development, McDonald's/quick-service), Linda Sceurman (national director of nutrition and menu development, ARAMARK/K-12 school foodservice), Jeff McClure (director of culinary services, Sodexo/college and university foodservice), Tracy Vessilo (vice president, retail innovations, Compass/business and industry), Mary Angela Miller (administrative director, OSU Medical Center/healthcare), Ed Wronski (director F&B concept development, Disney/leisure and entertainment), Carlyn Berghoff, CEO, Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group/catering – off premise), Jim Krueger (chief, Food & Beverage R&D Branch, USAF/military).

Additional judges to be added to the panel will represent family dining, casual dining, fine dining and lodging.
 
Award recipients will be showcased at NRA Show 2011 and also included in an extensive pre-, at- and post-show promotional campaign. The award recipients will be announced in late April 2011.
 
For more information and application forms, visit www.restaurant.org/show/fbawards.

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