the whole year round
“Chef de produits” says the business card of Géraldine Heyriès, who works in the French Pinguin branch. What that means? Well, Géraldine works closely with the R&D team to develop new products and cater to customer needs. In addition, she supports the commercial team with market insights and sales arguments; she visits customers to discuss product innovations, and much more besides.
Listening to the market
“By carefully monitoring the sales figures of our frozen vegetables and product mixes and analyzing the market, we try to predict what new products will do well. The input of our commercial team, as well as input from consumer panels, are crucial to gain that market insight,” says Géraldine. “As are the bonds with the customers. Based on customer feedback and market insight, we constantly adapt our product offering and/or develop new products.”
Are there particular trends or developments, we wonder? “In general, consumers set increasing store by the composition of their food (no additives, colorants, etc.). Linked to that is the trend, for example here in France, that consumers are really concerned about the origin of their food. Pinguin meets that need by offering natural products without, of course, compromising taste or convenience.”
The importance of tasting
Developing a new product at Pinguin is a step-by-step process. “We describe the new product that we want, together with the customer, detailing the ingredients and the target price. As soon as our R&D team has prepared a first prototype, we start tasting. The master recipe will be tuned and adjusted until everyone is fully satisfied about the color, the cooking time, the harmony of tastes, etc. The customer is invited to taste it as well, of course, and provide feedback on the recipe.”
‘Tasting’ is, by the way, crucial in Géraldine’s story. Every week, several Pinguin employees gather in the factory to taste the products. As the taste of the raw material differs according to the land where the vegetables grew, the weather, etc., every product has to be constantly tasted, in each and every step of the manufacturing process.
The best of fresh vegetables, all year round
Convenient, tasty and healthy: these are the key criteria that Géraldine and her colleagues specify for every new product. The product manager is, by the way, on a crusade to debunk the myth that frozen vegetables or vegetable mixes are less healthy than their fresh counterparts: “Our vegetables are cultivated when they are just mature, which is when they taste best. In this way, the consumer can indulge the same great taste and nutritional value throughout the year. As the vegetables are deep frozen, there is no loss of vitamins and bacteria don’t stand a chance. ‘The best of fresh vegetables, all year round,’ is our baseline. We strain every nerve, each and every day, to convince consumers of that fact.”
When we ask Géraldine what she considers so special about her job for Pinguin, she highlights her passion for healthy eating: “In 2001, our French government launched a program to help people eat a more balanced diet. Pinguin provides everyone with access to healthy vegetables, and even fruit, at a reasonable price. I am proud to have a job that allows me to help people eat healthier.”