New Product Development in Food: Global Limited-Edition Product

Check out the global trends in seasonal and limited-edition new product development

April  2, 2024 – Seasonal and limited-edition food products can be a fun way for consumers to get excited about their shopping experience. After a decrease in consumer interest in seasonal and limited-edition foods in 2020, possibly due to the pandemic, consumer interest is returning.

Seasonal and Limited Editions Impacts on NPD 

Innova’s new product development research shows an overall uptick in interest for seasonal and limited-edition products. Over the last five years, seasonal product launches have risen by 16.1% CAGR, and limited-edition launches have risen by 14.8% CAGR. Both seasonal and limited-edition product launches outperform the overall market in terms of product activity. Additionally, West Europe is the most active region for both seasonal and limited-edition foods, representing 39% of activity in the field.

New product development for Christmas, Easter, and, other seasonal activities have been growing over the past year, while Valentine’s and Halloween are growing much slower. Within these seasonal releases, confectionery foods account for almost one-third of seasonal and limited-edition activity.

Limited Editions: From Unusual to Unique 

Limited editions have been shown to motivate customers to make impulse food purchases. Innova’s new product tracking shows that almost one in two customers would be very likely, or likely to make a one-time impulse purchase for a limited-edition product.

As for interest in limited-edition products, it varies by age and location. Regionally, Asians and Latin Americans are more likely to make one-time impulse purchases of a limited-edition food, while Millennials and Gen Z are more likely than Boomers or Gen X.

new product development

Influence of Flavor 

When asked about the most influential flavor aspects for food and beverage choices, almost one in four consumers responded with seasonal or limited-edition flavors. West European consumers most often chose seasonal or limited-edition flavors as most influential for their purchasing choices, with France leading at 32% of consumers, Germany at 30%, and UK and Spain at 25% and 24% respectively.

Consumers are additionally more likely to look for seasonal or limited-edition dessert and ice cream foods for purchase. For instance, the new product development process for Van Leeuwen led to a “Limited Edition Idaho Potato Malted Milkshake And Fries French Ice Cream,” adding a more unique savory flavored ice cream option for consumers. Brands are additionally using limited-edition products for brand collaborations, and global flavor fusions.


Seasonal new product developments remain tightly linked to the occasion for which it is intended. For example, Halloween new product developments often appeal to the youth with mystery or non-specific flavored products, while Valentine’s products go all in on the relationship between pink, and its flavor counterparts (raspberry, cherry, strawberry). However, there are several other trends that underpin new product development activity across the field.

Unexpected and expected flavors are both seen in seasonal products. For example, some Christmas products take traditional sweet foods, and create savory flavor variants. However, for some occasions, such as Valentine’s, popular favorites such as berry flavors are still important in new product developments.

Brand Extensions and Hybridizations 

There is a strong market for consumers interested in new and innovative foods launched from familiar brands. 29% of consumers stated they would definitely try a trendy or innovative food from a familiar brand, and almost half of consumers stated that they would try them once or twice.

Brands are using consumer willingness to step outside of their typical portfolios. For example, Mtn Dew produced a “Mtn Dew Baja Blast Hot Sauce” in 2023, and Chupa Chups released limited-edition “Choco and Vanilla” and “Strawberry and Cream” flavored milk, also in 2023.

What’s Next 

Seasonal and limited-edition new product development is pivotal to innovators in offering consumers new and exciting food and beverages. Additionally, these products allow companies to trial possibly unusual and experimental concepts.

Activity of limited-edition and seasonal new product developments has increased, and these products account for a significant share of overall new product developments. Thus, to stand out, limited editions likely have to offer something different to get consumers to make a purchase.

Social media has become extremely valuable in promoting these products. Fast paced, bold posts about limited-edition or seasonal products can engage with target audiences. Additionally, more unique or unusual products may create more interest and social media activity through further sharing by consumers.

Finally, plant-based limited-edition and seasonal new product developments offer further opportunities for consumers as the category continues to develop.


This article is based on our report, “New, Niche and Not For Long – Trends in Global Limited Time NPD.”
If you are interested in receiving this report, feel free to request a demo through our Contact Form.

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