‘Translating trends’: McCormick to use foodservice flavour learnings for retail product innovation in new Aussie HQ
McCormick specialises in flavour products, and saw a significant acceleration in retail product sales during the pandemic when many consumers turned to home cooking and flavour experimentation – Now, the firm plans to keep this momentum going post-pandemic by applying its experiences from other sectors to retail product innovation.
“McCormick has always been focused on flavours and providing a wide variety of products, not just selling our own brands to consumers but also flavour solutions to major FMCG firms and the foodservice industry all over the world,” McCormick Australia Managing Director Paris Golden told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“This breadth [in production and services] has become very important to us, and we have realised that it is especially vital in garnering consumer insight from multiple areas, so we can take these from one area and apply it to others – and this has worked very well for us.
“For instance, taking flavours that are trending in foodservice and translating these to making new innovative retail products has made for very good insights to conceptualise and develop successful new products that sell well on shelves.”
In addition to foodservice insights, McCormick’s global reach has also enabled it to translate flavour trends from one region or country to another in order to keep up with consumer demands for interesting new products.
“The general trend has always been that consumers want more unique and tasty flavours from around the world, and with most people having been unable to travel for the past two years, this has also been accelerated as they want to at least get to taste the food if not be at the location,” said Golden.
“So we have also noticed that leveraging flavour trends we garner from markets elsewhere within our global portfolio and applying these locally to bring new products to market has also worked well. At present, we are seeing international flavours such as those from Japan or Africa emerging as popular choices.”
That said, Golden also emphasised the necessity of localisation, particularly when it comes to marketing new products, when bringing different flavour products into different markets.
“Although consumers usually look online [at international content] for new inspiration when cooking at home to develop new cooking skills and using new flavours, when it comes to marketing flavour products we know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach – we have many brands and many products and have had to do this a different way for each,” he said.
“The best way to go about it, particularly in this digital age, has been to look more closely at digital marketing, as this has allowed us to develop more personal relationships with consumers and personalise our offerings according to their demands.
“There is still a role here for traditional marketing via TV and print, but in today’s world, social media such as Tik Tok offers us many more opportunities to find, develop and sell relevant products as techniques such as social listening give us the ability to see when trends emerge.”
Golden revealed spice and heat as an enduring trend in the region, citing widespread interest in Australia during its lockdowns for its Keen’s Curry and other hot sauce products as an example.
Golden hopes to apply all of these learnings more efficiently come 2022 when McCormick Australia’s new 20,000 square metre local headquarters is completed.
“I can’t reveal the exact amount of investment that we put into this new facility, but it is definitely a multimillion dollar investment and will comprise of three main areas – the actual HQ, an Innovation Centre with R&D and culinary labs and kitchens, as well as a new warehouse,” he said.
“A lot of the investment has gone into making this facility as sustainable as possible – it is a 5-Star Green rated building, which is the highest environmental rating in Australia, and we have achieved this by initiatives such as making it highly insulated and using 600 kilowatts of solar power to power operations from the forklifts to the warehouse to the offices and so on.
“That’s the equivalent of about 150 residential systems here in Australia, and will reduce the amount of gas and electricity used significantly, though we will still need some of those, and we hope to perhaps even become a net generator of solar power.”
The facility will be McCormick’s third in APAC, to complement its innovation centres in Shanghai and Singapore, and is expected to support both Australian and regional APAC growth over the next 10 years.
It will be the local Australian HQ, but despite its larger size will not be the regional APAC HQ, which is officially located in Singapore.