Prepared Foods' 18th Annual Spirit of Innovation Awards


Duration:120 minutes


Let’s face it. It’s been challenging to find venues to see and taste today’s new food and beverage products. Our nation’s pandemic has limited traditional outlets to track and explore these Innovations.

This year, Prepared Foods and partner Tastepoint by IFF are creating an entirely new event, a two-hour Spirit of Innovation Awards Program and Integrated Innovation Experience honoring nine food and beverage companies for their excellence in consumer insights, R&D teamwork, cross-functional execution and overall innovation.

This will include:
  • An experts’ “state of innovation” panel featuring Principal of Isthmus Innovation Leslie Maclin and Co-founder and Global Insights Director of Innova Market Insights Lu Ann Williams.
  • In-depth profiles of each winning company’s product + problem-solution storytelling straight from R&D team members.
  • Exclusive real-time, online chats between webinar attendees and winning company R&D teams.  
CLICK HERE for more details!

  • Editor’s Choice / Most Innovative: Mind Blown Coconut Shrimp, Plant Based Seafood Co.
  • New Retail Food: Green Giant Cauliflower Breadsticks, B&G Foods Inc.
  • New Retail Beverage: KÖE Shelf Stable Organic Kombucha, Stratus Group LLC
  • New Foodservice Product / Front of House: Tyson Crispy Thigh Strips, Tyson Foodservice
  • New Foodservice Product / Back of House: Marco's Adovada Sauce, Ready Foods
  • New Alternative Channel Product: Lobster Salad Sensations, King and Prince Seafood Corp.


Bob Garrison


Prepared Foods

Bob Garrison earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1985 from Indiana University’s School of Journalism. Then he was a Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune newspaper reporter from 1985 to 1987, before joining Chicago-based Gorman Publishing and its Bakery Production & Marketing title. In 1990, Garrison was one of 12 people who founded Stagnito Publishing in Northbrook, Ill. At the time, Garrison was executive editor for a start-up publication entitled “Dairy & Frozen Foods.” From 1995 to 2012, he served as editor for the magazine, which is now known as Refrigerated & Frozen Foods. In 2012, Bob became Editor-in-Chief at Prepared Foods (, the largest audited titles serving more than 40,000 food and beverage manufacturing professionals (all channels) in R&D, marketing, innovation, culinary and health/wellness/nutrition. Prepared Foods operates across three platforms with a digital magazine, online media as well as the industry’s oldest running in-person new product innovation event: the New Products Conference.

leslie maclin



Leslie Maclin is the Principal of Isthmus Innovation, a strategic consulting practice focused on designing successful new product platforms to fuel business growth, with expertise leveraging both early stage and legacy food technology assets. Isthmus Innovation collaborates across the spectrum of innovation initiatives, with experience leading business analysis, opportunity identification, and concept design briefs and validation for Global brands, “intra-”preneur brands and businesses, and disruptive emerging brands. Leslie is respected as a collaborative innovation catalyst and new business builder, fueled by a unique blend of hands-on food industry experience: CPG breakthrough innovation, B2B Omni-channel marketing, and Hospitality & Culinary Management. Isthmus Innovation client profiles include Global CPG’s, Venture Capital groups and Emerging Start-up brands. Prior roles include Senior CPG roles at Kellogg’s, including Sr. Director Innovation & Business Development. She received her B.A. from the University of Kentucky.

Ilya Sokolov

Global General Manager


Ilya Sokolov joined Bel as the Global General Manager for the Babybel brand within the Strategy, Growth Levers & Markets Department on June 1st, 2020. He is located at the US headquarters office in Chicago, Illinois. Ilya is a purpose-driven General Manager and Marketing & Innovation executive who specializes in nutrition. In his 20+ year career, he worked across North America, Europe and Asia in global and regional roles worked across all elements of the healthy diet – grains, dairy, fruits, vegetables, plant-based. For 10 years, Ilya was with PepsiCo working as Regional General Manager for both dairy and children’s food portfolio, and as Global Brand Leader where he led the restaging and portable breakfast launch in 50 markets and led the cross category kids’ platform under Quaker and Tropicana brands in US, China and other key markets. Just prior to joining Bel, Ilya led Marketing & Innovation at Curation Foods (a fresh plant-based portfolio company) based out of California where he led their fresh plant-based portfolio restage in US and Canada.

Lu Ann Williams

Co-founder and Global Insight Director

Innova Market Insights

Lu Ann Williams is director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, provider of market research services including the Innova Database. With more than 20 years’ experience, Lu Ann leads a team of analysts to discover and understand the latest trends shaping the global food market.



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