What Danone’s recent releases say about its approach to innovation

Two of Danone’s new ranges show the different directions it’s taking when it comes to NPD.  

14 January 2020

It’s been a busy few months for food giant Danone, starting with their ground-breaking Innovation Incubator release, Pati & Coco, at the end of 2019.

The brand – a pioneer for an “unapologetically indulgent, once in a while” trend for desserts – launched with four flavours, all of which are made up of folds of ganache with sheets of chocolate underneath, a dark chocolate layer on top and a biscuit layer at the base.

“Pati & Coco is a multi-layered, multi-textured dessert that demands your full attention, as a reward for getting through the day and finding a moment to relax at the end of it,” Julia Lowbridge, marketing manager of Danone’s Innovation Incubator, tells Food Spark.

It’s not designed to be eaten in a quick or necessarily convenient manner, so we wouldn’t classify it as a snack.

“We know that consumers will seek out sweet treats, so we wanted to give them an option that's a sophisticated feast for the senses, full of multi-textured ingredients combined in an innovative way.”

While the Pati & Coco concept is quite clearly heavy on innovation, Danone’s release this week – a range of family-friendly yoghurts using only recognisable ingredients – may seem, well, ‘simple’ in comparison.

But the direction of Danone’s newest range is just as on trend.  

Simply what matters

In December, multi-national flavour and fragrance company Firmenich released their predicted hero flavour for 2020 – classic blueberry – and their reasons behind their choice.

“This choice of a more traditional flavour as our ‘flavour of the year’ actually represents a more significant shift in the food industry toward more intentional and emotional design,” said Jeffrey Schmoyer, VP Global Insights for Firmenich.

“Consumers are more inclined to try something unfamiliar to them, such as kombucha or a cashew yogurt, if it’s flavoured in a way they can connect with on an emotional level.

“We see blueberry playing a bigger role in the coming years in helping product developers introduce new food concepts around the world.”

While the use of simple, recognisable ingredients may seem like a move away from the current mainstream direction towards lesser known world cuisines and adventurous plant-based products, these recognisable flavours may be a way to introduce those less adventurous consumers to new styles, formats and ingredients.

These recognisable flavours also lend themselves to the idea of small ingredient indexes, holistic focus and provenance, all of which are just as high on today’s consumer agenda.

In a recent report from Puratos UK on healthy eating trends, 70% of those surveyed said healthy food is about removing ingredients, 36% currently check labels for details on preservatives and the same number look for details on the source of a product.

Meanwhile, 33% said that they search for information on artificial colourings and flavourings.

“What’s classic is new again,” said Emmanuel Butstraen, president of Firmenich.

“Blueberry has been a beloved flavour for centuries in many markets and today, with our increasing focus on health and wellness, blueberries are being rediscovered and growing to be one of the most relevant flavours in many categories.”

In terms of flavours, Danone’s new family friendly range includes strawberry and blood orange, peach and ginger, and blueberry, blackcurrant and beetroot, with all featuring “simple ingredients, using just milk, live cultures and fruit layers, all with no added sugar.”

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