Bimbo, General Mills among Forbes' most innovative companies

by Max Sosland
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JERSEY CITY, N.J. — In the first quarter of 2013, Bimbo Bakeries USA introduced a line of snack cakes under the Sara Lee brand. About a month ago General Mills, Inc. introduced a new line of high-protein, gluten-free products. Innovations like these had both companies recognized in Forbes’ recent survey for the 100 most innovative companies. 

The list was determined based on “innovation premium,” which Forbes described as a measure in percentage of how much investors of a company build up the stock price in anticipation and expectation of new products. The companies also need to have $10 billion in market capitalization, at least seven years of public data and spent at least 2.5% of revenue on research and development.

According to the survey, Grupo Bimbo had an innovation premium of 33.7%, earning a rank of 83. General Mills, Inc. had an innovation premium of 33.1%, earning a rank of 91.

Forbes also evaluated companies’ sales growth the past year. Bimbo’s sales growth was determined at 2.5% while General Mills grew 0.8%.

General Mills recently released numerous products, highlighted by gluten-free and high-protein. A trend has been growing leaning toward gluten-free and high-protein diets, aiding the company’s rise onto the list.

Both Bimbo and General Mills are following the small-scale indulgence trend of consumers. Bimbo’s introduction of Entemann’s Little Bites and Betty Crocker’s continuing partnership with the Hershey Co. in creating various dessert mixes are examples of this.

The list is topped by the software and programming giant Salesforce.com. The company had an innovation premium of 75.9%.

Hershey Co. also made the list, coming in at No. 80 with an innovation premium of 34.3%. Hershey’s presence on the list comes after a breakthrough year of product development with the launch of the Hershey’s Spreads platform, the company’s debut in the category, and Lancaster soft caramel crèmes, Hershey’s first new brand introduction in 30 years.

Novozymes, a biotech firm that focuses on food processing aids and enzyme production, ranked 38th on the list with an innovation premium of 43.1%. The company’s goal is to contribute to the food industry safer and healthier foods while increasing the efficiency of the process by eliminating waste. The company recently developed a maltogenic amalyse called Novamyl that improved white bread and bun freshness.

Monster Beverage Corp. was the highest ranked food and beverage brand at No. 15 with an innovation premium at 54.1%, followed by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., which ranked No. 20 with an innovation premium of 50.5%.
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