Author: Brendan Cleary
MEATING THE TRENDS
WHO? Brandon Cleary, De Mad Food Company, Ireland.
WHAT? Market research to appeal to the ‘clear label’ and ‘flexitarian’ consumer.
WHY? Economical recession requires innovation.
Irish white pudding is traditionally made using pork meat, oats, barley, onion, spices and salt. It was sliced and pan-fried and served at breakfast. However, the market for such a product has declined in recent years due to changes in lifestyle and the less healthy image of its ingredients. This is where the story of De Mad Food Company started. Owner Brendan Cleary developed a range of new products based on white pudding.
Probably the most important thing that Brendan ever did was intensive market research to identify a gap for his product. Cleary explains: “Product innovation is a must in a new company. There are plenty of new products which have failed due to mistakes in the product’s pricing, its packaging, presentation or launch - not hitting the market at the right time. The trend is your friend was the best piece of advice I was given. Identify the trends, spot the gaps, take your personal bias out of the equation and then learn from your mistakes.”
Cleary used the tasty Irish pudding as a vehicle to introduce new ideas and lots of innovation. First, the trend for clean labelled foods was mixed with inspiration from international cuisine. Consumers would be encouraged to eat this typically breakfast food at other times of the day. Next, alternatives to pork were introduced to broaden the appeal and thus vegetarian, lamb and beef options were added to the range.“The vegetarian space is dynamic at the moment due to the new breed of consumer called The Flexitarian: a consumer who sometimes dabbles in vegetarian food as a lifestyle choice" says Cleary.
De Mad Food Company now produces tasty and clear label white puddings that contain natural ingredients from sustainable sources. The company has embraced change and has re-invented itself three times in the last three years, changing packaging and products. Cleary successfully extended the shelf-life to 77 days, which is vital to supply to supermarkets. In addition, Cleary used a quirky name to appeal to the targeted consumer. This innovative attitude is paying off and is leading to listings in major Irish stores. The vegetarian foods have made strong gains in the last 18 months and soon Cleary will launch them under a new brand “Ethica Planet Foods”.
Kitchen trials became factory trial, which led to market launch and from there to slow and painful market penetration. Cleary chose to outsource the production. “Outsourcing proved to be a wise choice in the start-up phase of our company. It saved valuable capital, allowed the flexibility to maneuver without a fixed building attached and gave us the time and freedom to carry out research and development,” says Cleary.
Cleary is open to forming relationships with other innovative European Foodies to explore product development or new market opportunities. Cleary sees opportunities as “Irish white pudding is basically a member of the sausage family and most European cultures have something similar in their cuisine. We will be exporting our vegetarian products later this year.” De Mad Food Company intends to ramp up the innovation process and bring their new ideas to new markets. Get in touch with Cleary below if you are interested in collaboration.