But retailer behaviour is also crucial. Glanbia supplies to most of the major multiples in the UK, including Asda, Safeway, Somerfield, Kwik Save, Iceland, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer. Development work at its groundbreaking Malpas Centre of Cheese Excellence in Cheshire often involves teams from the multiples actually making their own cheese.
In this way the NPD process is enhanced by relationship building ­ and fun. Via Malpas,Glanbia's multiple customers can be involved in every stage of the NPD process.
A new Marks & Spencer dairy team came away from a totally hands on' visit to Malpas with the verdict that most of it was "great fun ­ with all objectives achieved".
A spokesman says: "From the buyer's point of view, he needed to understand the process to ensure that we are getting the best values for the best product for our customers.
"We wanted to understand how best we could exploit this unique facility. We are continually looking for ways to satisfy the customer through quality and innovation As a new team in dairy it was important for us all to understand all stages of the cheese making process ­ from a product delivery point of view.
"And as a department we need to understand how our cheese differs from the competition and how we can improve quality and flavour.
"It is very important to ensure the qualities of the cheese and important attributes such as handmade', farmhouse' etc are conveyed in the packaging, or in promotional activities."
Malpas is pushing forward with refining and improving recipes and packaging formats, with hundreds of pilots running.
A recent major project has been to help drive more growth for British Blue Stilton, a sector relatively inactive in terms of new ideas and formats. Glanbia has now launched two new blues. Tuxford 1780 was launched in July. Leicester Gold was launched over the deli in February/March and is expected to be launched in pre-packed format later this year.
The launches were underpinned by Glanbia's segmentation research which enabled it to build a detailed profile of today's Stilton buyer, and identify groups such as the Deli Set, who are motivated by premium products and tend to make a special effort preparing food.
"As with many premium products, Blue Stilton has been prey to poor imitations with significant variability in quality," says commercial manager David Giles. "Part of the challenge in growing the UK Stilton market is educating the consumer and challenging their perceptions of British-made Blue cheese. Essential to this process is getting shoppers to try the cheese for themselves."
Giles adds: "We are keen to address the issue of seasonality in British Blues. Traditionally, Christmas is the busiest time of year for Blue Stilton but we are also looking at ways to encourage the consumer to think about new meal occasions."
And packaging was also rethought. Giles says: "With Tuxford 1780, we have introduced a contemporary design and presentation. But in addition, we have created a fridge friendly pack. The 225g pack reflects the average amount of Stilton purchased per trip and with its easy to open and recloseable format, the packaging reassures the customer that the cheese will not go off before they've had time to eat it all."