Gama spoke to Angels Solans, Managing Director, Unilever Food Solutions Spain.
What are your day to day activities?
At Unilever Food Solutions our goal is to help our clients develop and grow their business. A large part of my work centres on achieving this goal, ensuring that the innovative products we offer clients helps them in these objectives. All of our innovations are aimed at allowing our clients to improve their dishes and their menus, as well as implementing greater efficiencies in their kitchens.
This is not our only goal, however. We also dedicate a significant part of our resource to creating training and management tools for restaurants, bars / cafeterias and hotels. We make these available to our clients and the sector in general.
In this regard, I dedicate a lot of my time to understanding the needs of our key clients and to the hospitality sector as a whole. I try to provide the maximum support possible to the key industry bodies as well as to media outlets in order that they support and provide exposure for our work.
Among some of our recent activities, we have launched our shrink management guide, through which any restaurant can achieve savings of €1,500 per year, as well as our “5 Keys To Hospitality Management”, in which we identify how you can save €7,000 per year and reduce your environmental impact.
What key trends do you expect to shape food and drink innovation in 2014?
In Foodservice the key to innovation is developing products that help our customers optimize their kitchen processes and improve the quality and flavour of the dishes they serve.
We are developing innovations that lower energy costs as well as environmental impact, such as “cold preparation” products that offer energy savings of up to 35%.
A further priority is products that help reduce waste, both in terms of food waste and packaging.
Finally, another key area of innovation will be products that allow for menus to cater to special dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance.
What should manufacturers do to be successful in the current economic climate?
They should adapt themselves, in a real sense, to the needs of their customers. In our case, as I have been saying, this is in helping the hospitality sector to grow and make its business more profitable, through products that offer excellent quality while allowing companies to optimize their kitchen processes and reduce costs.
Which markets (countries) or consumer groups currently offer the greatest growth opportunities for FMCG companies?
As I have mentioned, providing solutions that allow foodservice outlets to cater to special dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance, is a big opportunity. Also product innovations that allow us the minimize our environmental impact and energy consumption.
How do companies best achieve growth in developed or saturated markets?
In our sector, it is firstly by offering our clients solutions which help them to attract and build loyalty with customers in an uncertain market. Secondly, it is by helping them differentiate themselves and improve their offering and, finally, by allowing them to improve their kitchen efficiencies.
From a marketing perspective, how is the way companies are looking to reach and engage with consumers changing? How can a brand successfully resonate with consumers?
By building a close understanding of customers’ needs and offering solutions that allow them to grow their business.