Spirit of innovation awards: foodservice
An Icon “Away from Home”
In its new line of soups, chilis and entrées for foodservice, Campbell's Away From Home division (Camden, N.J.) brings a decidedly retail perspective to the arena. A powerful brand, accentuated by a strong nutritional profile and near-gourmet ingredients and taste, might seem somewhat out of place on the foodservice side of the industry. However, Campbell has implemented all of these and more in its newest Away from Home offerings.
Campbell's foodservice division has established a successful branding program in recent years, including the beverage stalwart V8. However, with its latest offerings, Campbell's Away from Home division brings the V8 brand firmly out of the beverage arena. These efforts have resulted in a product range that delivers quality ingredients, great taste and, in something rather unique for foodservice, fortification.
The V8 line of soups, chilis and entrées are designed for health-conscious consumers looking for a variety of nutritious and flavorful options. With the products, Campbell is focusing primarily on the non-commercial segment, notes Joyce Friedberg, senior marketing manager of innovations for Campbell's Away from Home. “Within those segments, we are really focusing upon business and industry (B&I), colleges and universities (C&U), healthcare and also in some schools as well.”
Happy TrendingEach product in the line provides eight essential vitamins and minerals, while delivering such trendy and delicious ingredients as Portobello mushrooms and yellow curry. In addition, the entire line is either vegan or vegetarian, as was planned from the outset. With that goal in mind, the addition of the V8 brand made perfect sense, says Friedberg.
Bringing such a powerful retail brand to the foodservice arena has its proven advantages, but fortification plays an important role in this entire range. Communicating each to the end consumers is requiring a specific effort on the part of Campbell's Away from Home team.
“We have developed point-of-sale pieces,” Friedberg assures, “along with our advertising campaign and posted information on our website (www.campbellawayfromhome.com) to help educate our customers. Really, it's been interesting to learn (the impact of) the language that we use when talking about fortification. We must communicate that we provide a good source of vitamins and minerals. It actually has very positive connotations with consumers as well as operators.”
Essential FortificationConsidering the abundance of vitamins and minerals in the products, operators should be proud to boast. Each product notes it is a “Good source of vitamins A, C, E, B6 and B12, and minerals calcium, iron and zinc.” For that matter, in today's increasingly health-conscious society, consumers probably would welcome the positive dietary attributes of the products. The Portobello Mushroom and Barley soup, for instance, has only 80 calories per serving, 1.5g of fat, 2g of dietary fiber and 0 trans fats (the latter a hallmark of the entire line). As well, the Garden Vegetable and Three-cheese Lasagna has 220 calories per 1 cup serving, 3g of fat and 5g of dietary fiber. Those are only two examples of the 10-item strong line, however, which also includes:
- Creamy tomato basil bisque,
- Mediterranean-style vegetable soup,
- Garden vegetable pot pie,
- Curried corn with brown & wild rice,
- Backyard barbecue-style chili,
- Butternut squash & apple bisque,
- Hearty vegetable & three-bean chili, and
- Risotto with sun-dried tomatoes & Portobello mushrooms.
Further complicating matters somewhat was that all of the products were developed concurrently in a “fairly aggressive” timeline, Friedberg recalls. This may well be considered an understatement when realizing that all 10 products were developed and launched within an eight-month period. All of the company's functional teams were involved from the onset of the project, including culinary, nutrition science, marketing, regulatory and legal, to name a few. “We had quite a number of different functional groups represented, such as product development, culinary, nutrition science, sales, marketing, regulatory and legal, to name just a few, with over 50 people involved in the whole project before it was completed.”
The development of such a diversity of products, some of which do not exactly spring to mind when thinking about Campbell, produced its own challenges.
“There were some challenges from a culinary standpoint,” recalls Mary McMonagle, program leader, Campbell's Away from Home R&D. “We were working on soups and chilis and entrées simultaneously, so it involved a lot of creativity. We wanted to develop great-tasting, on-trend varieties and touch on a number of different points with those varieties…Time was pretty challenging. We had to develop a fortification profile, so we leveraged some internal groups to focus on that.”
However, the fortification aspect that makes the line so unique was not originally in the planning of Campbell's developers. In fact, looking back on the development, the idea behind the line evolved to include fortification.
“In terms of R&D development,” McMonagle remembers, “the project started out as 'Okay, we're going to develop some vegetarian products.' Then, we decided we want them to be fortified and on-trend. It just evolved more and more nutritionally, offering half to a full serving of vegetables per serving of finished product, fortification, watching and controlling the amounts of fat, no trans fat. It offered some new and interesting challenges for R&D to work through. We were on a fast track and pooled our resources and expertise and made it all happen very quickly.”
With a strong response from the foodservice side of the industry and a product that seems tailor-made to meet the needs of consumers looking for healthy at-home meals, is Campbell considering a retail launch of V8's chilis, soups and entrées? Not so fast, says Juli Mandel Sloves, manager, brand communications at Campbell.
“We are really going to gauge the success of how things go from a foodservice perspective. This is our first opportunity to extend beyond beverages for the V8 product line. Until this time, we've built upon the success of our base V8 red juice business; we have extended with V8 Splash juice drinks and V8 Splash Smoothies but kept it to beverages at retail. It will be interesting to watch the success of this product line, as we are constantly looking at new ideas and new opportunities.”
Sidebar 1:Based on Prepared Foods' and Ventura Foods' belief that innovation is one part pioneering ideas and one part teamwork, the Spirit of Innovation Awards recognize exceptional product development teams for their work on exciting new products. A panel of judges spent over a day evaluating dozens of entries in two categories (retail and foodservice) on six criteria, including:
Spirit of Innovation--Judging Criteria
A $2,500 donation will be made to Rutgers University (New Brunswick, N.J.) and Iowa State University (Iowa City, Iowa) on behalf of Campbell's and Barilla, respectively. Company representatives are attending the Spirit of Innovation Awards Dinner at the 2004 Prepared Foods New Products Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Nominations for the 2005 Spirit of Innovation Awards will be accepted beginning in March 2005. Official nomination forms appear on www.PreparedFoods.com.
Sidebar 2:Fishery Products International Inc.: UpperCrust Natural Cut Fillets
The foodservice arena faces a number of challenges, not the least of which is skilled labor resources. Wise suppliers to foodservice clientele have recognized this fact and innovated to deliver time-saving, easily prepared, restaurant-quality items.
The wisest have tailored such items to fit the latest restaurant trends, as evidenced by Fishery Products International's (Danvers, Mass.) UpperCrust line of natural cut fillets. This line of six crusted entrées brings the latest white-tablecloth trends to prepared seafood. A cross-functional team developed the UpperCrust line, using three of the most popular fish species--cod, salmon and tilapia--and delivered them in perhaps-unexpected ways, at least for prepared items. The developers followed many of the latest trends in fusion cuisine and incorporated such styles as Mediterranean, Pan-Asian, Nuevo Latino and Caribbean.
R&D and marketing would prove only a part of the success, though. The innovative line required an internal team to devise a novel manufacturing solution. This enabled line-prepared items that appear to have been created in the back of the house from scratch, which truly is the goal of any prepared foodservice product.