The site in Herentals, near Antwerp in Belgium, which involved “a significant investment” on behalf of Griffith Laboratories includes, among other facilities, a domestic style kitchen to simulate home cooking of ready-to-cook meals and also a snacks and nuts development laboratory.
Commenting on the reason for establishing such a facility there, Phil Stroud, vice president of marketing and R&D Europe for the savoury ingredients producer, said the intention is to develop products with processors in those countries that appeal to local tastes, and meet the challenges around seasonality as well as retailer demands on summer and winter product portfolios.
He told FoodNavigator.com that it is imperative to have local facilities. “Our business model is based on tailored NPD - we want to share insights with local manufacturers and incorporate their knowledge of a specific market’s trends in the development of innovative sauces or coatings for both own-label and private label brands."
He stressed that the facility is very much about a “sleeves rolled up and down to work” approach and will provide one day workshops focused around a food manufacturer’s specific project objective.
“These sessions will not be seminar driven but instead will be about delivering a hands-on collaborative process involving our in-house chefs and R&D experts, along with a food company’s development technologists and perhaps its marketing and sales executives to ensure category differentiation and that ever tighter supply deadlines can be met.“
Dutch and Belgian food producers, like others throughout Europe, continue to seek greater market share through product innovation along health, convenience, indulgence, flavour, taste and texture lines, said Kristel Moens, marketing manager, Europe, at Griffith Laboratories.
“Ongoing clean label demands and the need to develop products for the expanding premium end of the market still underpin a lot of the work around NPD,” she added.
And she believes that authentic culinary notes and origin of ingredients will continue to play a key role in categories such as sauces. She also flagged up some niche trends for 2012 including seaweed-based coating systems.
Griffith Laboratories said the Herentals site adds to its network of culinary centres in Europe, with its other facilities in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy also supporting its growth strategy focused on local market understanding and expertise.
The UK site includes sensory testing but, added Stroud, as of now there are no plans to include such a service within the Belgian facility.