The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) announced the launch of the Center of Innovation Excellence (CIE) formed to develop and bring best practices and proven methodologies to foodservice that will improve the effectiveness of innovation to ensure success. The CIE’s first area of innovation focus will be “products to launch.”

“Pioneering the creation of the Centerof Innovation Excellenceis an exciting step forward by IFMA members to help address this important challenge faced by many businesses in the foodservice industry,” says Larry Oberkfell, president and CEO of IFMA.

The foodservice industry has an appetite for innovation. The CIE began working with a core group of forward-thinking members who support the efforts, the “Founding Members,” which include Proctor & Gamble Professional, Land O’Lakes, the Schwan Food Company, Rich’s, Otis Spunkmeyer, Kellogg’sFood Away From Home, International Paper, Basic American Foods, Insight Beverages, and Sargento.

Chain operators who also contributed in the first phase of work include Buffalo Wild Wings Bar & Grill, Brinker International Restaurants, Culver’s Franchising System, Del Taco LLC, Perkin’s Restaurant & Bakery, Marie Callender’s Inc., and Red Lobster.

Red Lobster Chef and Senior Director Michael LaDuke commented on the initiative, “Significant opportunity exists to improve the processes of manufacturers and operators and, most importantly, the combined collaborative imperative,” says Michael LaDuke, chef and senior director at Red Lobster. “I applaud IFMA for championing the Centerof Innovation Excellenceeffort.”

IFMA partnered with Stage-Gate International, a full-service provider that helps companies achieve growth through successful innovation, to create the Centerof Innovation Excellence.  

“The time is right to develop an industry-specific solution that serves the needs of foodservice manufacturers, suppliers and operators,” says Scott Edgett, CEO of Stage-Gate International. “We think this can be a game-changer for the industry.”

While the CIE is a process in development, foodservice manufacturers and trading partners can purchase the first phase of the initiative, a white paper titled “Product Innovation—a Common Framework for Foodservice,” as well as become involved in “Phase 2” of the research. For more information, please visit

Emerging Concepts, News, Operations