Three Global Food Trends Driving Innovation at Nestlé
From local foods to plant-based diets, we’re listening and leading the way on new flavors and ingredients
Before I joined Nestlé in 2016, I mostly thought of it as a coffee and candy company. I knew Nestlé as the producer of Nescafé and (at the time!) some of my favorite movie candy. So, I was surprised to discover that the company’s portfolio included everything from Dreyer’s chocolate chip ice cream to Maggi noodles.
But our global brands are also evolving fast, and connecting with consumers in new ways. Take Maggi, for example. Nestlé India’s recent Maggi Masalas of India noodle range was inspired by the cuisines of Punjab, Mumbai, Chennai and West Bengal.
This offering is a great example of how we dial local consumer tastes and preferences into innovation, driven by our teams on the ground.
We’re also innovating through the Maggi “Simply Good” initiative, transforming the brand’s products by simplifying their recipes. We’re removing ingredients that consumers don’t easily recognize and adding more of those that they do, such as vegetables, herbs and spices.
We know that tastes are changing faster than ever before. Our consumers want delicious foods that are also healthy and convenient. We also understand that if we want to compete — and win — in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace, we have to constantly innovate to meet these shifting tastes. To do that, we’re launching new products, evolving brands you know and love, and making bold acquisitions. Through these actions, we’re prepared to meet consumers’ needs not just today, but for years to come.
Here are three of today’s biggest food trends and how Nestlé is meeting them head on:
1. Innovation is borne locally and scaled globally.
Around the world, Nestlé is fueled by an incredible 323,000 employees, each of whom has their own cultural connection to food and unique viewpoint. That gives us an incredible opportunity to tap into new flavors, customs, and ways of thinking. Empowering our teams to innovate locally has helped Nestlé unlock creative approaches to product development, while elevating local flavors and incorporating them into our products, just like our launch of Maggi Masalas of India.
Similarly, our new line of Outsiders Pizza, created by U.S. employees at the grassroots level, lets regional flavors shine. These frozen pies are modeled on recipes that were initially created in American cities like Detroit and Milwaukee, which have strong, but under-respected, pizza traditions.
The locally driven Outsiders approach wasn’t the product of some overwrought focus group; it came from an innovative team operating in Nestlé’s new internal incubator model. The team is comprised of a small group of employees from across Nestlé coming together to work on a special project. They operate like a start-up while leveraging Nestlé’s resources to go from idea to shelf in nine months. The result is a tasty new product that quickly lands on grocery stores shelves.
2. Nutrition, taste, and convenience shouldn’t have to be a trade-off.
People want meal options that are delicious, nutritious and hassle-free. We’re committed to meeting this need by offering products that offer taste and convenience, while also providing vital nutrients.
Our new Nesquik Chocolate Super Breakfast makes it easier for parents to jump-start a child’s day by providing them 12 grams of protein, without any artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Super Breakfast combines the Nesquik taste kids love with the protein that will keep them alert at school and full until lunchtime.
Both Maggi and Lean Cuisine aim to make preparing a healthy, tasty dinner as easy as possible. In Australia, Maggi aims to make weeknight cooking achievable through its Marketplace line. With its stir-fry mixes, home cooks can have a honey-soy dish on the table in just 10 minutes. And, Lean Cuisine’s Origins products marry sophisticated flavors with the nutrition and convenience consumers expect from the brand. Its new butternut squash lasagna contains organic pasta, butternut squash, layers of creamy goat cheese, spinach and 17 grams of protein. And this tasty meal is ready to eat in no time.
3. Plant-based foods are blooming.
The popularity of plant-based foods is growing, with more households following a “flexitarian” diet. Our research has found that 59% of consumers eat meatless meals once a week, plant-based foods are expected to fuel a $5 billion marketplace by 2020.
To meet that need, and satisfy this growing market, we’ve leveraged innovative teams to launch new products, such as the Coffee-mate Natural Bliss plant-based creamers with almond milk and coconut milk. Lean Cuisine also now offers several plant-based meal options ranging from Coconut Chickpea Curry to Sicilian-Style Pesto with Lentil Pasta.
To take our plant-based offerings even further, we recently acquired Sweet Earth Foods, a plant-based foods company that launched in 2011. We’re working with the Sweet Earth team to bring their delicious offerings, such as General Tso’s Tofu and the Curry Tiger Burrito, to even more people.
Through the combination of acquisitions, updated recipes, and new products, Nestlé is making it clear that when consumers have a need or want, we’re ready to fill it. It’s not enough to simply “monitor” food and beverage trends. We’re listening, engaging, and leading the way to satisfy any culinary craving that the world can imagine.