CHICAGO – During the Consumer Analyst Group of New York’s 2021 virtual conference, executives from Mondelez International, Inc., outlined how the company was resetting its innovation agenda. Efforts included launching fewer, more impactful and more incremental new products and eliminating a quarter of stock-keeping units to prioritize higher value innovations. Now the snack maker is updating its innovation strategy again.

“Our focus now is to maximize the incrementality of what we call beyond the core innovation with a few important levers,” said Martin Renaud, chief marketing and sales officer, during the company’s virtual investor day on May 10. “First, drive even more focus in the business units behind a few priority projects.

“Second, enhance our capabilities to develop even better consumer-centric ideas with new methodologies and continuing to leverage fast test and learns to quickly iterate with consumers. And finally, continue our open innovation approach with SnackFutures CoLab.”

New product examples from the updated innovation agenda include Oreo Gluten Free in the United States, Oreo Zero in China, Lacta Intense in Brazil, and Caramilk, a chocolate product, in Australia, according to the company. 

In early March, the company selected 10 emerging brands to be a part of its CoLab startup engagement program. Some of the companies invited to participate include Every Body Eat, a line of crackers and crispbreads that are free from the top 14 allergens as well as corn and sugar; GoNanas, a manufacturer of banana bread mixes that are allergen-friendly, vegan, gluten-free and nut-free; Moonshot, carbon-neutral crackers formulated with regeneratively grown, organic ingredients; and Oat Haus, maker of a range of oat-based spreads.

“Two years ago, we decided to reduce our project portfolio by more than 25% and to rebalance to rediscover what we call core innovation, and in particular, the core innovation behind our most important brands and products,” Mr. Renaud said. “Thanks to that refocus, we have seen the results of our projects improve significantly, and we are now above benchmark in contribution to growth and incrementality.”

Health and well-being also continue to be a focus of innovation for the company, said Dirk Van de Put, chairman and chief executive officer.

“Well-being is still a big focus for the company,” he said. “We're trying to make a contemporary interpretation of what does well-being really mean for the consumer today. And that has a whole evolution. And sometimes they (consumers) mix it even up with well-being for the planet as part of a whole wide well-being thinking. So, we want to make sure that whatever we do, the evolution that we see in our portfolio is in line with what the consumer sees as well-being.”

Two examples of healthy “renovation” Mr. Van de Put cited were Oreo Zero Sugar in China and the Cadbury Plant bar, which is a vegan option. The company remains focused on reducing the sugar and sodium content in products and shifting to simple ingredients when possible, he said.

“And then we also are very focused on well-being acquisition,” Mr. Van de Put added. “It's not really innovation or renovation, but it also helps us to get a more balanced portfolio. I’m referring here to the (acquisitions) we’ve already done like Perfect Bar or LU or Gourmet Food in Australia. So, those are really the ways we will gradually see a better balancing of our well-being offer product-wise.”