No choice but to innovate

A great thing about being in the vanguard of the industry is the contribution that we are able to make to our industry.

I’m not a fan of innovation just for its own sake, but I do get excited about taking something that exists, asking how we can make things better and then developing new approaches which no-one has tried before.

Our ‘stealthy eating’ approach is a good example. This was developed, in part, from research which I’d conducted in the course of my work as Operations Director for a large school catering firm. My study, carried out across a sizeable sample, provided hard evidence of what we’d suspected – that kids want food in familiar formats – burgers, pizzas, wraps and the like.

School caterers can put out all the pulses, beans, fresh vegetables and fruit they like, but their weekly sales figures should tell them that this, by itself, does nothing to promote healthy eating at school. It’s just a show. Food can only be nutritious if it is actually eaten – rather than left on canteen counters and shelves, or thrown in the bin.

I think we sometimes get too hung up on formats. Why should the word ‘burger’ set the junk food alarm bells ringing? It’s the quality and nutritional content of the meal that matters most, not the format. Thus a burger can have just as much, if not more food value than a plate of spaghetti bolognese.

Stealthy eating – getting students to appreciate healthy food in the familiar formats – continues to be a huge success for us. But it’s only part of the story of our brand. A business model that puts food quality as the number one priority guarantees that we’ll be innovating for a long time yet.

Till next time,

Steve

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