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All Employees Responsible for Innovation, Study Says

Perceptions regarding who is primarily responsible for innovation have expanded from the confines of the laboratory to include all employees of a company, according to a cross-sectional study of managers and professionals in manufacturing companies in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

More than one third of respondents-37%-said they rely on all employees, not just the head of science and technology, to advance innovation. While a smaller number-23%-responded that innovation is the chief technology officer's responsibility.

Conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc. on behalf of Dow Corning Corp., the study involved a telephone survey of executives from a range of industries. "The results show a trend away from the traditional ‘inside-out' approach to innovation, which involves creating a new product or solution and then looking for a way to sell it," says Scott Fusion, global executive director for marketing, sales and customer service at Dow Corning. "Respondents now are turning to an ‘outside-in' perspective of monitoring the external environment, market needs and customer expectations and then creating products, services and solutions to address those needs."

Respondents' rankings of factors that make a supplier a successful innovator reinforce this perception. The top-ranked factor was having an "intimate understanding of what customers want and need." This response scored 8.9 out of a possible 10, where 10 is considered extremely important. The second highest response was "employees are creative," which scored 8.6, and the third was "apply the latest developments in science and technology," at 8.5.

Zero Grams Trans Fat Cooking Oil at Wendy's

Wendy's is now cooking with oil that has zero grams of trans fat per serving at its 6,000 US restaurants. After two years of research and development, Wendy's is the first major quick service restaurant chain to switch to a non-hydrogenated cooking oil for its French fries and chicken items.

Wendy's breaded chicken sandwiches, nuggets and strips now have zero grams of trans fat. Depending on the serving size, trans fats in French fry offerings will range from zero to 0.5 grams. Kids' Meal nuggets and fries will have zero grams of trans fat. Changes to Wendy's cooking oil and chicken items will reduce trans fats for Wendy's chicken and fries by an average of 95 percent. Beyond this effort, the company is working directly with its French fry suppliers to further reduce trans fats that occur as part of the par frying process at their facilities, with a goal of zero grams.

Wendy's use of the non-hydrogenated oil also means on average a 20 percent reduction in saturated fats in the breaded chicken items and French fries.

Sugar Market Not So Sweet

In response to a continuing tight sugar market made worse by last year's Gulf region storms, USDA has increased the in-quota quantity of the tariff-rate quota for refined sugar for FY 2006 by 90,719 metric tons raw value. The US Trade Representative Office said it is allocating a total of 26,681 metric tons raw value to Mexico. The remaining 64,038 metric tons raw value of the in-quota quantity may be supplied by any country on a first-come, first-served basis.

Plant Floor Cost Cutting Via Wireless

Wireless technology is about to see widespread adoption on the plant floor. Full story.

State of Food Manufacturing

Food production professionals undertake the quest for continuous improvement. Full story.

Fabulous Food Plant: Nong Shim Foods Inc.

Manufacturing is as much about people as machinery, and when both groups represent different cultures, harmonious production can be a challenge. Full story.

Reap What You Flow

New flow technology pays off in quality and productivity improvements. Full story.

Beverage Packs Take Home Top Awards

An aseptic transparent stand-up pouch and a beer can with a thermal barrier shared the top DuPont Award for packaging innovation. Full story.

People, Plant and Industry News

Castle Brands, a developer and marketer of premium branded spirits, appointed Con Constandis to the newly created position of managing director - Americas and senior vice president strategic planning. Previously Constandis was CEO for Allied Domecq USA and held executive positions with Seagram's Spirits & Wines.

As part of its efforts to introduce healthier snacking, The Hershey Co. established the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition. The center will conduct research to develop products and technologies with health benefits in the areas of heart health, weight management and mental and physical energy.

ConAgra Foods agreed to sell its refrigerated meats businesses to Smithfield Foods. The sale includes the Butterball, Eckrich, Armour, LunchMakers, Margherita and Longmont brands, as well as the associated plants and inventory. The combined annual sales for the refrigerated businesses are about $1.8 billion.

Kettle Foods broke ground last month for a new potato chip plant in Beloit, WI. The $18 million, 53,000-sq.-ft. production and distribution facility will employ 100 people when completed during the first part of 2007.

John Dresel, president and COO of Tully's Coffee, will be leaving the company. John Buller, a member of the board of directors, has been appointed as new president and CEO. Buller will continue on the board, where he has served since March 2005.

The Morrison Milling Co. has been acquired by C.H. Guenther & Son Inc. Morrison Milling is a family and employee-owned flour milling and frozen food company. Guenther officials plan to carry on the Morrison name and brand identity.

Peter Hall has been named director of engineering for Seiberling Associates in Beloit, WI. He will be responsible for managing the mechanical design group, as well as scheduling and training.

International Flavors & Fragrances appointed Robert Amen as chairman of the board and chief executive officer.

Key Principal Partners announced the sale of Ampac Packaging, LLC to a group led by Prudential Capital Group and Falcon Investment Advisors. Ampac's management team will retain ownership interest along with Prudential and Falcon.

Campbell Soup Co. is selling its UK and Irish businesses to Premier Foods plc for $845 million. The businesses have annual sales of approximately $480 million. Products made by Campbell's UK and Irish businesses include Homepride sauces, OXO dry stocks, Batchelors dry soup and meals, Erin dry soups and sauces, and Fray Bentos meat products. The sale includes three manufacturing plants in the UK and one in Ireland.

Decas Cranberry Sales, a provider of cranberry-based ingredients, appointed Jeff Carlson as president and CEO. He most recently served as chief operating officer. Prior to his career at Decas, Carlson served as the executive director for the Cape Cod Growers Association.

Mars, Inc. acquired Doane Pet Care Enterprises from Teachers' Private Capital. Doane Pet Care is a Nashville, TN-based store-brand manufacturer of dry pet food.

Coffee Pacifica appointed Rhonda Penner-Dunlop as chief financial officer.