Project management coaching, certain sustainability aspects, and speed were key ingredients in this particular Co-Development case in which we worked with a highly regarded manufacturer of fine biscuits based in Europe, who wanted to develop and produce a new and innovative product.
The customer’s requirements included high-quality standards as well as an oils and fats supplier with a leadership position in sustainable sourcing and that could help them reach their goal. With our long-standing experience in providing sustainably sourced raw materials, AAK was contacted and we happily accepted the challenge.
From the outset, it was clear that this task would require support on multiple levels from many different AAK specialists. In-depth oils and fats knowledge was needed to guide us through the new requirements and this was provided by our Customer Innovation and Go-to-Market teams. To implement and handle a transition to new packaging formats, logistical support was also needed, as was quality support in order to manage the necessary sustainability certifications. In other words, the project was truly a multi-functional Co-Development exercise.
Building a common understanding
To kickstart and accelerate the Co-Development process, an Innovation Day was facilitated at our Customer Innovation Center for Bakery in Belgium. Participants included a large and diverse group representing many links in our customer’s value chain – including sourcing, purchasing, R&D, production, and quality – as well as appropriate specialists from AAK. Having everyone under one roof made it possible to conduct detailed discussions around how to approach and run the project in the best way.
Together, we quickly specified the requirements that needed to be met. One of the fundamental requests was the need for an exceptionally high standard quality of the vegetable fats used. A second big change resulted from logistical requirements related to ingredient packaging. Our customer was not used to working with different packaging formats and needed guidance on how this could be implemented in the most optimal way. Finally, there was a request that all palm oil included in the final product had to be certified RSPO Segregated.
Full speed ahead
There was a tremendous sense of urgency and the customer wanted the launch of the new product to happen fast. AAK provided additional project management resources to make things happen in record time, and two weeks after the Innovation Day, we were ready for launch.
The launch started small, with focus on a single market. Fortunately, the flexibility designed into AAK’s production process allowed us to support with low volumes provided in a drum format. As sales of our customer’s product increased and additional markets came along, packaging formats were adjusted accordingly to match required quantities. A final switch was made to bulk reflecting that this product was a great success with our customer’s customer – the end consumer.
Our customer was very happy with the speed and professionalism with which the development and launch happened. Based on this positive first experience, our relationship with the customer has continued to grow, expanding to encompass the customer’s own portfolio of branded biscuits.