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‘Friturist’ or futurist: snack manufacturer aims for relevant innovations

Filling the innovation funnel and gathering input on food trends in order to thrive on lasting success.

The chip shop - or ‘frituur’ as we say in Belgium – is a place that many Belgians visit on a weekly basis. Fries and the inevitable meat snacks are part of our culture. Belgium is the pre-eminent fries country, so as a producer it is important that you keep up with global trends and respond to them with the right innovations, taking into account the needs of the consumer. That is what Beltaste did together with us a while ago: filling its innovation funnel and gathering input on food trends in order to thrive on lasting success.

Snacks, trends and the future

Beltaste originates from the Belgian family business Vanreusel Snacks. For generations, it has been making deep-frozen meat snacks and developing the best-known deep-frying classics. In the meantime, the company has put a strong focus on sustainable entrepreneurship. For example, they take their responsibility at the social level by continuously investing in the reduction of the environmental impact, the production of responsible products and the pursuit of 100% food safety and quality.

A perfect foundation, therefore, for the objectives that Beltaste had in mind and still has today. Some time ago, the snack company felt that it lost its edge and was keen to identify the innovations that were relevant to its consumers within the current trends. Real innovation had become difficult and Beltaste was struggling to fill its innovation tunnel with innovative and fresh product ideas, based on a trend or consumer need that could mean long-term success.

Beltaste and its innovation funnel

Therefore, it went for a focused and thoughtful approach to broaden, improve and make its offering relevant. The snack company turned to One Inch Whale for an analysis of current and upcoming trends, to determine the innovation platforms that fit within those specific trends, and to create a decision matrix that helps Beltaste to take concrete marketing actions.


Ideation workshop Beltaste

The Beltaste team gathered at a ideation workshop.

1. Analyse trends and consumer needs

What are the most important trends? First of all, it was important to map this out and translate it into a specific category, that of ''snacks''. Trend reports and articles, specifically focused on 'snacking' and trends in the world, provided a global picture of what is hot and will become important in the food industry. Through a social media listening exercise, we looked at what has been happening on the World Wide Web over the past two years and we gained a better understanding of consumer needs. By scouring the internet completely, we obtained concrete learnings about current trends and product innovations that could fill certain needs. A handy tool, therefore, to bring in the voice of the consumer and to extract certain information. What is going on and what are people saying about it? How do consumers deal with snacks? What pictures are being published about it?

2. Creating innovation platforms

After 'discovering' all these trends and hearing the voice of the consumer, we translated this into what it means for Beltaste specifically. We also used Beltaste's own internal knowledge - via earlier research or data already gathered - to get to work. From there, we identified eight innovation platforms on which Beltaste could work. An innovation platform is used to turn ideas into a successful proposal fast and with conviction among the stakeholders in order to create business value. The company focused specifically on a selection of platforms on which they could work for a long time, given that trends last for at least five years, and also be developed in a sufficiently sustainable manner. Each of the platforms was explained in detail: what it entails, how it can be relevant to Beltaste and what is required to be successful in it.

3. Realising a decision matrix

Once the platforms have been identified, what's next? How do you tackle these innovations in concrete terms? By bringing structure to the innovation tunnel. Whereas Beltaste used to decide to bring something onto the market based on their gut feeling, it now uses a model that helps to make decisions based on the complexity of the production, the commercial attractiveness of the snack and the potential it has. Together, we upgraded the existing innovation funnel to a more consumer-centric and trend-related approach. A number of gates were implemented in the decision matrix, whereby certain criteria are used to decide whether or not a specific innovation moves to the next stage.

4. Innovation challenge workshop

An extensive team of internal stakeholders - consisting of employees who deal with innovation within the company (and that was very broad) - were brought together in a workshop. For each of the proposed platforms, we created ideas fitting with one or more platforms. This way, almost 300 ideas were generated. A number of those ideas were selected and described in a marketing concept. This is how a few marketing concepts were developed that Beltaste effectively brought to market and that will be found in chip shops across the country in the coming months.

Neverending funnel

Beltaste still uses its innovation funnel on a regular basis. "The innovation funnel that we built together with One Inch Whale is constantly used and fed by us. This exercise has been crucial in determining our focus. It still is," says Maurice De Kroon, marketing manager at Beltaste. And so you can still taste One Inch Whale a bit every time you take a bite into the latest meat snack from your grocery shop or chip shop.

Are you interested to know more about this case study? Are you curious how One Inch Whale can help map out innovations in your sector and help you surf on the right trends? Feel free to contact us for an exploratory meeting.   

If, in the meantime, you feel like having a tasty Beltaste snack, we understand. Don't feel guilty if you pop into the chip shop right now. Don't have time? Then just check out their website for more info.