Bringing clients together to generate new ideas
Solina’s food-loving teams are always on the lookout for inspiration, keeping a close eye on trends in how people shop and eat. It’s a key part of our job: helping our food industry clients stay future-ready, by anticipating opportunities and suggesting creative directions for tomorrow’s food. We decided to capitalise on our partnership with Michelin-starred chef Christophe Le Fur in a proactive and novel way: he delivers creative training to our R&D teams and gets involved in food innovation and product design. His star power also raises Solina’s profile at cookery events and trade shows.
To see what exciting new ideas we could generate together, we invited two of our food manufacturer clients – Altho and Ateliers du Goût – to a joint culinary workshop-cum-brainstorming session with Christophe. The Brittany-based companies had already met through Solina at CFIA in 2018, and aren’t in direct competition.
Creating new food experiences
As part of Solina’s service, we often run well-informed insiders’ workshops with our clients to explore ways of creating value from the new trends we have researched. Living up to our motto of “creating sensory food experiences”, we came up with the idea of inviting two very different long-standing clients to the same session: major crisp-manufacturer Altho, and Ateliers du Goût, well known for its ready meal products.
We are familiar with the issues specific to each of them – but they also have a lot in common. Both are food manufacturers operating in the same market, with the same regulations and constraints, and both were eager to learn from our in-house culinary VIP, top chef Christophe Le Fur.
This joint hands-on workshop is an exciting format that allows communication and ideas to flow freely in a non-competitive, interactive atmosphere – and with everyone being based in Brittany, France, participants were even more interested in each other’s experience and industry knowledge.
An exciting, hands-on format
The day was divided into two sections, with a morning dedicated to discussions and an afternoon of first-hand contact with ingredients and flavours in our demonstration kitchen.
Solina kicked off with a presentation of the latest consumer research, setting out how people’s needs and expectations are changing. This was followed by a lively discussion, with input and concrete experiences from around the table.
After lunch the atmosphere was more playful as chef Christophe Le Fur and his team took the group through some experimentation with ingredients. Blind tastings and hands-on mixing gave them a chance to try out unconventional notes and taste combinations. Solina’s R&D team was on hand with technical information on flavours, acting as a kind of “translator” to help Altho and Ateliers du Goût envisage how these concepts could be applied to potential food solutions.
An enjoyable and thought-provoking day, it offered a perfect forum for discussion, creativity, and memorable tasting experiences.
Positive results all around the table
Participants seized the opportunity to step back from their everyday work and take a more experimental approach to product development, testing ideas and thinking outside the box. Both Ateliers du Goût and Altho were very pleased with this shared experience of teamwork. Their discussions covered common ground while also exploring how to tackle issues that both companies face. Each plans to visit the other’s factory, and there is the possibility they might link up in a future partnership. Other tangible outcomes from the day include some exciting new food development ideas that Solina is developing for both clients.
The success of this workshop means Solina will repeat the formula in the near future, as it is definitely typical of the service we offer to clients. Facilitating new partnerships is very much part of our overall strategy. In this increasingly complex industry, we want to build as many bridges and identify as many synergies as we can!