Retailer to supplier:
“I want you to develop a premium product that is better than anything our competitors make. Oh, and by the way, can you make it cheaper than anything else on the market?”
This challenge is given to food developers on an increasingly frequent basis. While it frustrates me, it is the ultra competitive food market that has led to retailers exerting enormous pressure on manufacturers to deliver high quality products at rock bottom prices.
So what are the options?
Option one would be to tell the retailer what you really think, but this is not generally a career-enhancing move.
Option two is to attempt to rise to the challenge, but also demonstrate alternative options.
Fresh is not always best. To develop a top notch red pepper soup at an economy price, I would turn to the greatly improved frozen vegetables (plain and roasted) that are available to manufacturers at a fraction of the cost of buying fresh.
To develop a tasty snack meal at a competitive price, start with a base such as rice or pasta with small additions of flavoursome ingredients. Remember: air and water are cheap – ice cream manufacturers are well practised on this one!
It is important that you use all your creative skills and knowledge of food ingredients to make the product tasty. Value shouldn’t mean bland.
It is vital that those responsible for food creation play an active role in product costings. A simple spreadsheet, which shows the actual cost that each ingredient contributes to the overall recipe cost, is invaluable. To demonstrate how a small percentage decrease of one expensive ingredient can dramatically decrease costs is a very powerful and useful tool.
The best advice I can give is to present two dishes: one that meets the price point and another that doesn’t, but is a dish you are proud of.
Give cost indications and remember that taste is more powerful than words. Your next move is to offer to send the selector repeat samples for their chief executive – it’s certainly worked for me in the past!
Development consultant and interim manager at Cheftech