‘It’s no surprise that food is holding out really well compared with other sectors, so we’re in a fortunate position. But at the same time there’s a lot of downward pressure as consumers hold back their spending, and retailers, with their concentrated buying power, are constantly putting the screws on manufacturers when it comes to margins and price increases. The aggressive growth of private label is another factor for brand owners to contend with, both now and in the future,’ she comments
During an economic downturn, many companies slow their spending on new product development as part of their cost-saving efforts. Foodcorp, however, isn’t one of them. It is, says Julliette, investing in some significant innovation, including those solutions that will help build a strong product portfolio for now and the future, and one that will see the company ride out the tide of market uncertainty.
One of the newest Foodcorp launches is from its Mageu Number One factory in Pretoria – Number 1 Smooth, a smoother and creamier drink available in three new flavours – Lemon & Lime, Strawberry Cream and Banana Custard – and targeted at the ‘Black Diamond’ female market.
Mageu is a fascinating category; a traditional product that’s on a vibrant growth path thanks to affordability, familiarity, and the fact that it delivers on convenience and healthy satiety. ‘Mageu’s growing popularity is not essentially built around price; rather it’s a very desirable, preferred choice of refreshing beverage with consumers across several LSM groupings,’ Julliette explains. ‘We have done extensive research into the sector; and we’ve recognised that approaching such a traditional market with a Eurocentric attitude is hopeless. This would assume that mageu is a product on the way out in today’s aspirational marketplace, but quite the reverse is true. As marketers, we’re really trying to understand the many different needs out there, and to meet those needs with appropriate and relevant products. It’s a big mind shift.’
Foodcorp’s research showed that female mageu consumers were looking for a contemporary badge on an old favourite; a drink that was not as gritty in texture as the traditional beverage, that had interesting flavour profiles and which could be consumed on the go. The upshot is a trusted entity with a modern twist in both content and form. Using the creative talents of Banie Stafford Graphic Design (who every month helps transform the ‘ordinary’ into the ‘extraordinary’ for Packaging & Print Media), Number 1 Smooth is packaged in soft feminine colours in modern, convenient resealable 330ml Elopak Mini Diamond Curve cartons. These new Elopak portion packs were converted on Nampak Liquid Packaging’s newly-acquired CPS (Canadian Primographic Systems) seven-colour UV flexo press. The tamper-evident cap is manufactured by Nampak Closures in Durban.
Putting more yum into Yum Yum
Categories don’t get more price sensitive than peanut butter, a product purchased by LSMs from 3 to 10. Foodcorp has done much of late to enhance the appeal of its Yum Yum brand – number two player to Tiger Brand’s Black Cat – and late last year Nola relaunched the range with a fun, fresh look, designed by M&A Design in Cape Town, using both packaging innovation and the latest processing technology.
Yum Yum has been the first spread to introduce unbreakable plastic bottles with tamper-evident lids and the first brand in the spread category to introduce a shrink-sleeve label. ‘We’ve introduced shrink sleeving across several of our brands and it’s a move that has paid off handsomely,’ notes Julliette. ‘The extended branding and marketing opportunities are invaluable and new-look Yum Yum certainly has lifted the spreads aisle. Feedback has been fantastic.’
The new look relies on bright colours, a slightly revamped logo, new peanut icons with lots of consumer appeal and speech bubbles containing catchy phrases to differentiate the six variants in the range – Smooth, Crunchy, Choc Chip, Ultra Creamy, Caramel Crunch and No Sugar Added.
Juliette stresses that Yum Yum’s revival also rests on improving quality, and this has been achieved by a large investment at Foodcorp’s Randfontein factory in advanced processing equipment (roasting and milling) to produce a smoother, creamier peanut butter. ‘We want consumers to come back again and again to our product, and the brand’s outer appeal must complement its mouth appeal. Being as objective as I can, I believe we have the best quality peanut butter on the market,’ Julliette claims.Yum Yum was also recently launched in a smaller 250g format, one which gives the same quality product but at an affordability price. ‘There are two notable FMCG trends at work here,’ explains Julliette. ‘LSMs 8 to 10 are attracted by bulking up for value, while at the lower end, LSMs 3 to 5, want smaller and affordable options of trusted brands.’
Caption: Nola has also paid new attention to its Yum Yum Smooth peanut butter bulk packaging containers, upgrading the 1kg, 2,75 kg and 20kg buckets of peanut butter, destined for the retail and wholesale markets, to in-mould labelling. The new packaging retains the same design and theme as the relaunched Yum Yum 400g range. The buckets can easily be wiped down without damaging the label, there’s no likelihood of distorted labelling, all have handles for easier transportation and handling, and, as they’re often reused as storage or water containers, the branding lives on for the life span of the container.
In talking innovation and new packaging with Julliette, she’s quick to assert that Foodcorp is primarily interested in that which takes out cost. ‘Manufacturers, as mentioned earlier, are in a vice of downward pressure, and often it seems that packaging suppliers are unaware or ignore this,’ she explains. ‘They tend to move too slowly and don’t seem fully cognisant of their vital role in the supply chain. We, as manufacturers, are working to value engineer our entire operations to deliver quality more efficiently and profitably, but we can’t do it effectively alone.’She adds that while ‘sexy, high-end, green innovation’ has a place, for mass FMCG marketers the prime need in today’s environment is simple: ‘Less packaging at lower prices.’She does quickly qualify these insights with the fact that Foodcorp has longstanding and excellent relationships with many packaging companies, and is complimentary about their ability to support Foodcorp with requisite flexibility and service levels.
Caption: Also in the Foodcorp stable, the Sunbake range of breads has been given a packaging makeover to further differentiate the brand from competitors, enhance on-shelf presence, drive trial and keep up with popular bread packaging trends.The new packaging features an upgraded plastic bag with simple, clean design elements and strong, solid colours. The logo has been updated to be more of a packaging focal point, with the sun graphic revamped with a modern feel. The design allows for a large window where the product shows through to allow consumers to feel assured of the quality product inside.
Floors ahead in innovation genesis
There’s no doubt that Foodcorp is an FMCG giant on the move, spearheaded by some astute marketing people, apart from Julliette Morrison. Among them is Cliff Sampson, previously MD of National Brands, and now the MD of Foodcorp Brands, while group CEO, Justin Williamson, has matched his money to his mouth with the establishment of Foodcorp’s world-class innovation centre, The Seventh Floor, in Cape Town’s Black River Park, Observatory.
Set in an 800m2 penthouse floor, the Seventh Floor consists of a development kitchen, dining room, bar, meeting rooms, sensory tasting facility, a Weber balcony and a Theatre of Food. Industrial in design and complete with state-of-the-art equipment and appliances, Foodcorp spent some R7-million from initial concept to final product on the centre. This glamorous-yet-functional space allows for product development by Foodcorp’s in house chef and other development teams within its group companies, it’s open to all Foodcorp’s retail partners for product demonstration and is also hired out as a fabulous function venue.
‘The Seventh Floor was created to uncover and interpret new trends and to cultivate and speed innovation within Foodcorp; to position it as a dynamic and creative food marketing company as opposed to just another food manufacturer,’ explains Simone Falconer, the unit manager and the person who put the whole project together. ‘The Seventh Floor will prove especially valuable for the companies Foodcorp acquired when it bought the First Lifestyle Group in 2007, namely Piemans Pantry, Gull Foods (a major Woolworths supplier), Fifers Bakery and Seemann’s Quality Meats, and more latterly Karoo Cuisine – producers who are primarily focused on the convenience, chilled foods and “on the go” market,’ Simone explains.
Why has Foodcorp set this world-class facility in Cape Town, far away from any production sites within the group? ‘There are several reasons,’ Simone responds: ‘Cape Town is the nation’s foodie capital, and all food innovation has culinary beginnings. Furthermore, many of our key retail customers have their headquarters here, but I think, most importantly, our CEO wanted the intellectual and physical distance between this site and any factories – factory environments tend not to deliver innovation.’There’s no doubt that Foodcorp is on an innovation adventure: watch this space; there’s a lot more to come. Foodcorp www.foodcorp.co.za
THE Foodcorp group is a broad-based manufacturer, marketer and distributor with interests ranging from staple foods such as milled wheat, to delicatessens such as rock lobsters. Its traditional five business units (Nola, Mageu Number One, Marine Products, Ruto Mills and Sunbake Bakeries) were complemented in 2007 with the acquisition of the First Lifestyle Group. The First Lifestyle Group consists of five business units (Piemans Pantry, Gull Foods, Fifers Bakery, Seemann’s Quality Meats and Weber) and is primarily focused on the convenience and ‘on the go’ market.One of Foodcorp’s most distinctive characteristics is the balance and diversity of its product portfolio, in which branded value-added products, such as prepared foods, and basic foods, such as mealie meal, complement one another.