From the Editor: Innovators shall inherit the Earth

From the Editor: Innovators shall inherit the Earth

Todd Runsetad, editor-in-chief of Functional Ingredients, talks about innovation and how it can take companies in new directions.

Todd RunestadScrew the meek. They shall inherit the wind. As for the greenbacks, they will flow squarely to the innovators. For as surely as good fortune and luck favor the well-prepared, fortune favors the innovators.

We’ve been talking a lot about innovation lately. In late September we launched our first-ever virtual trade show, with the educational component fixated like a laser beam squarely on the topic of innovation.

(And here’s a shout-out to the hundreds of you who checked out the sessions. In case you missed it, go to and you can watch any of them through the end of March. You’ll be glad you did!) 

Our annual market overview issue in your hot little hands right now is a testament to the story of innovation. Inside the pages to come, we shine a light on the trends, ingredients, conditions and categories that, in sum, take the pulse of the greater wellness and nutrition industry’s state of innovation.

One thing I thought I’d reveal here are the many challenges to innovation. I’m sure some of these will hit home for many of you. Here’s a cool five to ponder as you flip through the pages to come.

  • Company size
    In the 1970s, two out of every three new major brands were created by large companies—those of $2 billion or more, according to By the 1980s, it was a 50/50 proposition. By the 1990s, it was about 2:1 in favor of the small companies. And in the decade of the Naughties, it was a whopping 8:1 advantage for the small. Will large companies get in the game? In today’s tightening regulatory environment, where science holds sway, it seems to me only the big have the resources here.
  • Resources
    As Sara Lee CEO Marcel Smits said, “Innovation is the answer to commodity price hike challenges. If you have products with an added benefit, you can keep up or even increase prices.”
  • Regs
    Overly burdensome regulations are hamstringing European companies. (See Ovaltine graphic on page 18) This side of the pond, NDIs threaten the supplements world. A reinvigorated FTC seems to be setting up onerous roadblocks.
  • Technical resources
    Sometimes a staff biochemist is a good call. For example, joint-health products are no longer just glucosamine and chondroitin but also have hyaluronic acid to fill the synovial membrane—if that’s gone, your joint is toast. Also, MSM/sulfur bonds to hold all matrices together. Sometimes you have to think bigger picture.
  • Creativity
    Maybe you don’t have the expertise. Maybe you don’t have the vision to see the market need and product solution. Maybe you think it’s easier to stoop for pennies by knocking off an existing product than to reach for dollars by conjuring a truly innovative, game-changing, new product.

Read it and reap!

Todd Runestad
[email protected]

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