WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — After peaking in 2007, new products introduced by the food and beverage industry fell sharply in 2008 and 2009, according to data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Food and beverage product introductions in 2009 were 19,047, down 3,519 from 2008 and down 21% from the 2007 record of 24,236. The data were published in the June issue of Amber Waves magazine from the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the USDA.

The ERS described the decline in 2009 as the largest in at least 15 years. The pace of new product introductions grew fairly steadily through the 1990s and into the 2000s. As recently as 1992, the number of new products introduced each year in the food and beverage industries totaled only about 10,000.

Categories with the most new products included beverages and candy, gum and snacks. The ERS said the steepest reduction in new products were among products with popular “tags” such as premium or organic. By contrast, the ERS said private label product introductions hit a record high in 2009.