ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. -- Unilever Bestfoods here is part of a giant company that traces its roots back to the 1880s, and many of the organization's top food brands emerged over the years from an entrepreneurial heritage.
d in the Wish-Bone chicken restaurant in Kansas operated by a young war veteran and his mother.
Today, the company's challenge is to update that entrepreneurial heritage for a new customer base, said Matt Shattock, senior vice president, chief operating officer. UBFNA is addressing that challenge by updating products for current consumer trends such as the need for convenience and variety.
"It became a question of taking these brands and putting them in the context of people's modern lives," Shattock said in an interview with SN. It's what UBFNA executives like to refer to as creating "real foods" that are nutritious and easy to prepare.
Following are some of the new directions from the company:
UBFNA has created a convenient Hellmann's mayonnaise "squeeze pack" that enables consumers to more quickly extract mayonnaise for quick food preparation, including snacks. The company has unveiled for July introduction in stores a line of flavored Hellmann's mayonnaise, including garlic, herb and bacon/tomato.
"So when you've got that snack moment, you can have one with a little bit of garlic, and turn the thing upside down because people have told us that they don't want to wait 30 seconds for it to drop to the bottom," Shattock said.
A Ragu product called Rich and Meaty is a meat sauce that contains meat or vegetables, depending on the item. It will be in stores late in the second quarter. "It's another example of real food, real fast," Shattock said.
Lipton Asian Side Dishes, now shipping to stores, "taps into the emerging demand for flavor variations," Shattock said. It comes in varieties including teriyaki rice, chicken fried rice, teriyaki noodles, sweet and sour noodles, and beef lo mein noodles.
"All these little ideas really involve staying in touch with what consumers want, and driving product innovations in that way," Shattock said. "A lot of our success now will involve taking those innovations and making sure that we tailor their execution to our [retail] customers' needs."