New product trackerMintel International, Chicago, says there are fewer new retail products as processors cope with a changing economy. New data from the Mintel Global New Products Database show total food and drink product launches down by 51 percent from the first quarter of 2008 through the first quarter of 2009.

Compounding the annual decline is the fact that new product introductions dropped sharply from the last quarter of 2008, by 32 percent. Manufacturers typically release fewer new items during the first quarter of a year but 2009's reduction is higher than in recent years, says Mintel.

"Faced with low consumer confidence and reduced spending, many food and beverage manufacturers cut back on product development and new product launches," says Mintel analyst Lynn Dornblaser. "Many companies face internal budget cuts that affect everything from new product ideation to development and marketing."