Interview:

Trendy colours also matter in the food industry!

 

In the interview below, Kulinaaria’s Business Development Manager sheds some light on whether the low sugar content in food products is an unavoidable trend and what the impetus is for launching new products.

Before starting product development, we study what materials and colours are trending in the fashion industry, among other things. If green shades are in, we try to choose these colours for our products too. All of these minute details must be observed because they are what draw the attention of consumers!

— Merje Kips, Business Development Manager of Kulinaaria OÜ

How often must the range in the food industry be updated? We all know that people tend to get used to their favourites and don’t want to lose them.

We make product development plans once a year. We try to introduce new products to every segment by removing less popular items in order to make room for new and trending products. Although our initial plan might be to launch only one new product, in reality it usually doesn’t play out that way. The actual number of new launches is always bigger.

For example, take our new Pallikesed product. The idea was to launch two new choices alongside the traditional rum ball. However, the product developer was very creative and so the tasting committee was presented with 17 different tastes. As they were all so delicious, it was difficult to choose only two, which is how we ended up launching four new tastes.

How do you decide which new products to launch?

We follow trends and, naturally, it also depends on our production capacity and machinery. Our production facility recently received a brand-new interior – in order to choose new robotic machinery, we went through our product portfolio and mapped our opportunities and needs. We also studied customer and market expectations as well as trends. The goal was to be able to produce both mass and niche products, and if a new customer arrived with a very peculiar product wish, we would be able to offer it. Currently, we can produce food in large quantities, but likewise we can also design new tailor-made products, if required.

What are the current trends in the food industry and how much do you follow them?

Before starting product development, we study what materials and colours are trending in the fashion industry, among other things. If green shades are in, we try to choose these colours for our products too. All of these minute details must be observed because they are what draw the attention of consumers!

Essentially, we are moving towards simplicity and healthiness, including only the fundamental components and nothing superfluous. We are striving to reduce salt and sugar quantities in our products but this, too, has its nuances. For instance, we cut the amount of sugar in our raspberry cake, but then sales of it declined. Some products just need to be sweet. The Alexander cake is a total sugar bomb, but it has sold excellently for decades.

We also focus on producing responsibly, reducing waste and offering products with additional value. By that I mean products where we have added vitamins, microelements or fibre to help bodies absorb nutrients better, to avoid having to consume food supplements. In this area, we work closely with scientists from the Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies.

Thanks to our renewed technology park we can prolong the expiration dates of our products without adding preservatives. The consumer wants products to be made with natural whipped cream, little sugar and be totally healthy, but you can’t have everything. Sugar and salt have preservative qualities – you must add something to make the product last.

Trends in ready-made foods indicate that people are eager to try various tastes from all over the world. As people are living busy lives, they are looking for simple alternatives to cooking at home or eating in a restaurant. With this in mind, we have launched new sauces packaged in plastic cups, including chilli con carne, Bolognese, tikka masala and chicken curry sauce.

You are one of the largest producers of ready-made food in Estonia. Do you regard your company to be a trend setter? Are others imitating you?

We can see that our party products are copied a lot. Also, in packaging our competitors tend to follow us – we have moved towards more environmentally-conscious solutions.

And, of course, we were the first company to start selling poke bowls and produce them industrially, so-to-speak – while restaurants were already offering them, they were not on the menu of large producers.

Our roll-packaged cookie dough is also a unique product on the market, both in content and form. This way of packaging is innovative and easy for the consumer to use – it’s quite straightforward to cut slices and put them in the oven. Our cookie dough with toffee and caramel was awarded the title of “Best Estonian Confectionery Product 2021”.

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