Naturally, when a food manufacturer reaches the 150 year milestone, you want know how they did it.
To celebrate 150 years of ‘Bringing out the Biscuits’, Food Magazine spoke with Craig Funnell, VP Supply Chain and Sarah Ryan, Director of Marketing Arnott’s Shapes.
1. How has Arnott's maintained relevance over 150 years?
Craig: To remain relevant with consumers and retailers in Australia you need to be both innovative and cost competitive. It also helps if you can own the shelf in in the supermarket! Arnott’s has market share of more than 60 percent and to retain our position as category captains, we continually invest in many areas including infrastructure, ensuring our food safety and quality standards continually rise to meet higher consumer expectations.
Sarah: Arnott’s has a commitment to great consumer insights, which ensures we remain in touch with market trends and our consumers. Over the past 150 years we’ve evolved to meet changing needs of our consumers. We do this in a number of ways – renovating favourite products (like new Shapes flavours in keeping with current trends) while also understanding that many of our products have stood the test of time and should remain untouched, for example, Milk Arrowroot (1882) Iced VoVo (1906) and SAO (late 1800s).
Shapes Light & Crispy is a really good example of how we have approached changing trends to stay relevant. Health and wellness is a growing trend in food and we saw there was an opportunity to develop a Shapes product that allowed consumers to enjoy the Shapes flavour hit they love with a lighter and crispier texture, 75 percent less saturated fat and no artificial colours or flavours. Shapes Light & Crispy has been launched in four on-trend flavours, with our top seller being Tasty Cheddar and Chives. The product has contributed to strong growth of 15 percent for total Shapes, which indicates that when you tap into a market trend and deliver a great product to meet it, you can really improve your consumer relevance and drive great growth.
2. How has the Australian Food Manufacturing industry changed over time?
Craig: To remain viable, Australian manufacturers need to constantly address productivity. Operations also need broad capability to meet innovation challenges. For Arnott’s, our biggest priorities remain the health and safety of our people and the quality of our food.
As many of our competitors have exited the Australian manufacturing industry, we are now increasingly up against Asian/NZ and European imports which are lower in cost. For Arnott’s, that means we have to continue to provide the most relevant products to meet our consumer’s wants and needs and continue to be quality driven.
3. How has the market changed and how has Arnott's responded?
Sarah: Arnott’s started baking Ships biscuits and pies in 1865 for the Port of Newcastle. Ships Biscuits were a very functional, hard biscuit designed to last for long journeys at sea. They were for sustenance really. In the following years, sweet biscuits became popular. Today, sweet biscuits and chocolate biscuits are popular but savoury biscuits and snacking is increasing in popularity – Shapes now makes up 19 percent of our portfolio sales and savoury biscuits 44 percent.
Some other key changes include increasing sophistication of products over time, as consumer food interests and manufacturing capabilities have evolved. The proliferation of products, as manufacturers responded to the needs of different consumers and for different products for different occasions e.g. snacking and entertaining.
The Shapes biscuit range is a great example here. Shapes was launched in 1954. Over time the popular biscuit flavours have remained relevant, tasty snack for Australians, but the range has expanded to meet the needs of specific consumers and occasions. In 2008, Shapes Sensations were launched to meet the needs of an older consumer.
The product delivers more sophisticated, foodie flavours to meet the needs of an adult snacking occasion. In 2014, we launched Shapes Light & Crispy, which is targeted to meet the needs of a female consumer. In 2015, we have launched Shapes Extreme, which is designed to meet the snacking needs of teen boys. These biscuits deliver to teen boys by delivering a bigger, bolder flavour, a bigger biscuit with an extreme crunch and an attitude to match. The hero flavour Chilli Charge is a great example of the taste intensity of the range.
4. What lessons has Arnott's learned?
Sarah: We must always put our consumers first and deliver fantastic food – delicious food that has no substitute for quality.
5. What has Arnott's got planned for the next 150 years?
Craig: Our focus is always our consumers, their preferences and of course, there’s no substitute for quality! In the next 150 years we will continue to innovate and expand into new areas and look for ways to keep biscuits relevant in Aussies day-to-day lives.
Sarah: A lot! To keep making Australia’s favourite biscuits. Innovation into new spaces – more moments with the right biscuits. Capitalising key trends – health and wellness, foodie trend, on-the-go snacking. And finally, continuous improvement – leveraging new technologies to continually improve our products to deliver best quality and maintain relevance for our customers.