PLAYER PROFILE: Borden's Kaiser shepherds new products to market

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Craig kaiser knows what it takes to bring food products to market.

It takes a good concept, surely. But it also takes a complex process that brings those innovative ideas out of the laboratory and onto store shelves as efficiently and effectively as possible. Enter Mr. Kaiser, the first to hold the position of VP-business development and innovation at Borden Foods Corp.

Mr. Kaiser is charged with sorting through the company's over-filled new product pipeline and "getting as many ideas as we can from mind to market." To do so, he will work with several departments at Borden, including research and development, market research, product development and marketing.

Although Borden has made a commitment to becoming the global leader in "grain-based meal solutions," it has introduced only a few new products to meet that goal as it struggles with more ideas than resources to execute them. One of its few recent entries is a shelf-stable pasta and sauce line called It's Pasta Anytime.


But Mr. Kaiser's 20 years of experience in Nestle USA's frozen food division has prepared him to face Borden's challenge with what he called "market pull and technical push." At Nestle, he spearheaded the groups that launched Stouffer's Lean Cuisine, Hearty Portions and Skillet Sensations.

"From the market pull standpoint, I want to work closely with the market research people to clearly identify what consumers are asking for, and translate that into products that add value and convenience, both in terms of new products and renovation of existing products," he said. From the technical push side, his goal is to "work with the R&D and marketing folks to identify innovative new technologies that we could introduce into the marketplace that tap into what consumers are asking for."

Namely, meal solutions, or convenient answers to what to make for lunch or dinner. They are, as Mr. Kaiser put it, the "holy grail" for every food marketer these days.

Borden restructured a few years ago, in an effort to become smaller, leaner and more focused, especially on innovation in the meal solutions arena.


"In the Borden organization, the research and development facility is called the Innovation Center," Mr. Kaiser said. "They're obsessed with innovation, and that said a lot about the culture, their vision, and the focus on the growth and creativity of the company."

Unlike Nestle, with worldwide sales last year near $45 billion -- Borden has more limited resources with which to execute those innovative ideas. But that doesn't worry Mr. Kaiser.

"I've seen incredibly talented, creative people unable to execute their idea, to translate it into a product that meets the expectations of consumers in a cost-effective way. "You need a process that takes creative ideas and overlays them across a multi-functional structure to gain that perfect marriage between ideation and execution," he said.

That "process" is what Mr. Kaiser believes will help Borden meet its long-term goals and will in the near-term translate to a host of new and innovative products brought successfully to market.

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