R&D and plant-based fish: John West podcast

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Jon Burton talks research and development on the Enriched range
Jon Burton talks research and development on the Enriched range

Related tags Meat & Seafood

In this exclusive podcast interview, Jon Burton – marketing director at John West – discussed the research and development process behind the brand’s Enriched line of tuna products and the growth of plant-based alternatives to fish.

“It was important to us to develop these products in a way that had a single manufacturing process and as simple as possible,”​ he explained. “We made sure that the process by which the products were enriched was the same for all the products.” 

The past two years have seen John West capitalise on the health benefits of tuna – health itself was a growing trend identified by the manufacturer.  

Functional health

“The functional food side of health has grown strongly over the last few years,”​ Burton added. “Consumers are really looking to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing through what they eat – eat themselves well.  

“That’s why we went down that enriched route because it builds on what we’ve already got.” 

Burton went on to discuss the role of tuna in a world where plant-based alternatives to fish and meat were becoming increasingly prevalent in the food and drink retail space.  

In his eyes, meat and meat-alternatives can co-exist, but questioned what plant-based options could offer that meat couldn’t already. Burton also highlighted the relatively small size of the ambient plant-based fish market, which was worth less than £1m.  

 Vegans and flexitarians 

Burton also said: “The consumers who are interested are in two groups: vegans who are doing it for dietary reasons and having an option for them will be really important going forward; and then you’ve got flexitarians where it’s a bit more about wanting to do the right thing, whether that be for health, animal welfare or sustainability reasons. 

“I think at the moment our category is not necessarily seen as one where they’re searching for those alternatives as much as other categories, because it gives them what they need. But I think it's all about staying relevant to consumer trends.  

Meanwhile, the balance between health and indulgence, experiences and flavour mash-ups were just some of the key consumer trends to look out for in 2022,​ according to Friesland Campina’s global marketing lead for food Suzanne Van den Eshof. 






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