The slab cake specialist Bright Blue Foods (formerly McCambridge Foods) supplies a range of products including mini-pies, sponge cakes and Christmas cakes to large UK retailers, discount stores and wholesalers.
Company CEO Andrew Johnson said the company is injecting lots of effort into innovation and has broader plans to shake up an uninspiring market.
“The ambient bakery sector has been pretty devoid of any innovation over the last few years,” Johnson told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“We’ve been trying to impress on the retailers that we’ve got an innovation agenda, as well as being price competitive.”
Bright Blue Foods will create a centralized R&D hub by spring this year – a move that will ensure new product development doubles in 2014, the CEO said.
“Retailers will wake up at their own pace to what we’re doing. I want to change the culture in this business.”
Tempting consumers with the new, yet familiar
Johnson said the company and its new research and development hub would be dedicated to working on flavor and ingredient innovation, as well as texture, shape and packaging concepts.
However, he said that new products wouldn’t be too far from what consumers are familiar with.
“The way you tackle innovation is to provide something that’s adjacent to you but not away from what you do.”
“If you’ve got a standard cake but next to it you’ve got a twist – perhaps a different shape, packaging or flavor, consumers will be interested but it’s up to us to tempt them into trying it,” he said.
Guiding retailers because you are the experts
Johnson said that while ‘partnership’ was a clichéd word, it was exactly what was needed when working with retailers.
“It’s about going to them with an idea. We should be recommending what they do. What they do with that information is up to them but it’s important to have the right relationship with retailers. Retailers are our contact to the outside world,” he said.
The company has recently taken on a strategy to restructure its production footprint – including plans to close one factory that will see 57 job losses. Johnson said the aim was to strengthen production capacity - adding more lines and upgrading equipment to ensure a competitive edge. The CEO said the company is working with employees to do what it can in terms of transfers where possible.