Coming up with new food ideas and then bringing those ideas to fruition is not an easy business. Matthew McDonald profiles Newly Weds Foods (Australia), a company dedicated to keeping up with food trends and creating new products for Australian food makers.
Integrated food ingredients business, Newly Weds Foods (Australia) counts all sorts of food companies, including manufacturers, retailers and QSRs as clients.
The company’s products include coatings, seasoning systems and functional blends for seafood, poultry, pork, beef, vegetables and processed meats.
“We do bake breadcrumbs, from Panko to traditional breadcrumb. We do have flour blends, we do have functional and flavour seasoning mixes and we do make liquids, be they shelf stable or frozen that a client might use,” the company’s General Manager Calvin Boyle told Food & Beverage Industry News.
The company’s focus, he explained, is on trying to meet the requirements of its clients.
“We get business because we help solve problems. And we solve problems by either giving clients good new ideas or responding to request for versions of their ideas. Or sometimes we get business because we make a product better than our competitors,” he said.
So what problems does Newly Weds solve?
According to Boyle, they can offer total product solutions. “We’ve got the ability to develop the product for our clients from ground zero,” he said. “[Our] chef…can engage with them to look at new trends and look at new ideas.”
Or alternatively, the client can bring an idea to the company and work with the chef to develop it and create a new product.
“The chef can cook it the way a consumer would and then our food technologists can take that product and commercialise it so it can be made in a factory by us and our clients,” said Boyle.
“Our food technologists are a bridge…they bridge it back to a commercial product.”
But the product development process, he stressed, varies from client to client. Newly Weds is happy to engage with each client in any way they wish.
Understanding market trends and consumer behaviour is very important here. The company’s marketing team provides updated market information to enable its development team to keep ahead of the curve.
And regular internal and external “ideation sessions” ensure they are offering clients the most innovative concepts.
“We will do prospective presentations for clients. We will come up with 10 things we think are good ideas,” said Boyle.
“We supply our various clients about 1,000 separate samples a month right across our client base and a lot of them are demand driven where a client has asked us to do specific work.”
“We go and develop presentations where we look at trends in the market place: what we’re seeing happening, particularly overseas at our various other entities in Europe or North America or Asia.”
Boyle said that, while there are currently several factors influencing consumer choice – things like health concerns, convenience, safety, and environmental concerns – there is no one driver.
“There’s no one particular theme…every day we’re working on a project for a client that will tick every one of the boxes,” he said.
“…Consumers are looking for things that are good for them. I think every consumer goes through this…one day they’re looking for indulgence the next they’re concentrating on their health, so what we’re doing all the time is different products.”
“We’re developing products with lower salt, lower fat. At the same time another client is looking for the best flavour or the most on trend ideas.”
He nominated authenticity as an important factor.
“Consumers want restaurant quality food and they want it convenient…accessible in their supermarkets,” he said.
“We are seeing a real focus on authenticity…if it says chilli [on the packaging], it’s got to be hot.”
The demand for authenticity goes further than just taste. Earlier this year, consumer group Choice revealed that much of what was being sold in Australian supermarkets as oregano was actually olive leaves.
Here in Australia, this type of thing is relatively rare. As Boyle pointed out, the problem is much worse overseas.
“We’re doing a lot of work with our suppliers and internally as part of our quality system to demonstrate to our clients the raw materials we source have not been substituted or supplemented,” said Boyle. “We tested our oregano and it was all perfectly OK.”
Boyle sees a breadth of authenticity as a strength of Australia’s food market.
“Australia is quite a crucible of ethnic diversity,” he explained.
“If you’re looking to present something that’s Italian you have a large population of Australian Italians that will hold you to account that it tastes like it’s Italian. Or if it is meant to be Thai you will have a large number of Thais who are looking for that product to be quite authentic.”
Newly Weds Foods has plants in Sydney, Perth and Auckland, all of which operate as stand-alone entities. The facility in Sydney, for instance, employs a chef and 14 food technologists who are involved in R&D.
In addition, the Sydney plant has a quality assurance team which is even larger than the R&D team.
“We test everything on site including allergen testing. The only thing we don’t do is our own micro biological testing. There are too many good laboratories available close at hand for us to need to do that,” said Boyle
Having an allergen testing capability means the company can test raw materials that come in as well as their own products we make. This provides clients with the security they are looking for.
While he nominated organoleptic testing (which ensures the end product has the look, smell and taste it is supposed to have) as far and away the most important testing, Boyle said testing is not a one-size-fits-all exercise.
“It’s very complicated because we made over 2,000 individual products in the last twelve months. Every one of those products is different,” he said.
“Some undergo micro testing, some undergo chemical testing. It very much depends on the individual product…how clients are using it…what risks the raw materials might pose.”
For example, if Newly Weds commit to making a product that is gluten free will, they will thoroughly test it to confirm that it lives up that claim.
“We do all the tests that are required for each particular product. We know based on what we’ve experienced in the past and information we get from our other Newly Weds entities around the world that we need to do this test on this raw material or when that raw materials is used. That’s part of our core competence,” he concluded.