Digital Notebooks in the CPG Kitchen: Working to Meet Demands in a Changing Food Climate
Gone are the days when multicultural food items were a rarity at local supermarkets, regulated to dusty shelves hidden in dark store corners. Now, the world can appear before your eyes on your dinner plate as an “increasingly diverse population” has led to the continued growth of the ethnic food market, which reached nearly $3 billion in sales in 2011. These popular tastes are as varied as their countries of origin, from Sriracha, the beloved hot sauce made famous by Asian cuisine, to Umami from Japan and Radler, a combination of beer and lemonade enjoyed in Germany. But in this increasingly diverse “food climate,” few consumer packaged goods companies have emerged as leaders. Furthermore, competition from restaurants and food trucks, which can offer individuals “a convenient, authentic and affordable means of meeting ethnic food cravings,” is another area from which CPG companies can potentially lose profit.
Despite these challenges, however, there are many opportunities for CPG companies to capitalize on Americans’ increasing interest in ethnic foods. According to research conducted by Mintel, most Americans who prepare ethnic meals do so from home and they do so “from scratch.” Given the amount of time this process must take, CPG companies interested in the challenge (and potential payoff) could consider ways in which to prepare pre-made products that can be used by cooks and those interested in diversifying their palate.
Ethnic flavor profiles: beyond the ingredients
Considering the significance of flavors, an article for Scientific Reports puts forth that “there are…general patterns that determine the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that transcend individual tastes and recipes.” In other words, there is a “flavor network” that differentiates our ethnic cuisines and the CPG company able to ‘hack’ that network could have a significant impact on the market. The researchers end by saying, “Given the increasing availability of information on food preparation, our data-driven investigation opens new avenues towards a systematic understanding of culinary practice.” Thus, in this environment, CPG companies would benefit from investing research and time into developing appropriate ethnic flavor profiles and subsequently, easy-to-make food items that employ these novel creations.
As explained in an article for Multicultural Retail, over the next decade, Hispanic households’ food-at-home expenditures are estimated to grow at a 5.7-percent average annual rate. Yet much of this growth “…is dependent on product innovation that meets consumers’ needs…Therefore, companies need to consider better leveraging the diverse U.S. demographic profile…” Developing new flavor profiles and products is thus a worthy investment for any CPG company that hopes to capitalize on our increased exposure to food items from all over the world. From soy sauce to jalapeño, the future belongs to those companies that take advantage of America’s clear demographic trends.
A general case for the use of digital notebooks in CPG companies
Uncovering new ideas and developing new products is a challenging endeavor for any company; however, the use of digital notebooks could make the process significantly easier, while increasing the chances of experiencing success. To begin with, digital notebooks or electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNS) are computer-based systems that enable individuals to create, store and share electronic records. For a CPG company, such records are essential given that the information they contain is extensive and varied; from data about the compounds used to create certain flavor profiles to the results of various ingredients’ tests.
Though some CPG companies may use paper and pen to record this information, other companies have already demonstrated the advantages of using digital notebooks in the workplace. These advantages include increases in worker productivity, the maintenance of a steady workflow and the presence of an effective repository for new ideas that can be seamlessly exchanged between colleagues thousands of miles away.
With the ethnic food product segment of the CPG industry poised to make more significant contributions, many companies are wondering how to effectively make their mark. Digital notebooks can help simplify the road to success. They will enable you to readily customize its features to ensure that your needs are met. If you are considering a switch from paper- to computer-based software or have recently become interested in how digital notebooks can serve you, please visit our website today.