FBIN, Featured, Food Manufacturing

Value add for the modern market

Earlee Products continues to provide the industry with premium value add products
that create a premium element for existing protein products. 

Earlee Products continues to use its food technology and ingredients expertise to build a reputation of developing innovative new solutions for food manufacturers looking to value add.   

Lea Reid, Research and Development manager, Earlee Products, said it was an important part of the company’s approach, and success, to intrinsically understand the needs and goals of its customers, and their customers. 

“We at Earlee Products, are all about building close relationships with our customers and understanding on a deeper level what our customers want to achieve and how they envision the end product to be,” she said. 

One such innovation, for an unnamed client, has hit shelves in the first half of 2024, and was developed over two years to ensure it provided the best value add for the client. 

“This one is a sauce concentrate and has had many names over the years. 

“The product is a butter-based curry sauce and is portion controlled into a frozen disc the size of an air hockey puck. It is 50 grams of highly concentrated herbs and spices, butter, and characterising ingredients. 

“The customer only needs to add a cup of liquid (eg. Coconut milk), along with the concentrate disc and upon heating the sauce thickens into a delicious curry. Consumers can add their protein of choice, whether that be beef, chicken, pork, or vegetarian options.” 

“And within say five to seven minutes you have a complete meal.” 

Consumer demands around convenient food options has continued to grow and Earlee Products has recognised the benefits of value adding with premium ingredients.

“As a consumer you don’t need to go to the shelf to get all the ingredients yourself, such as a jar of something, a clove of garlic, a handful of chives,” said Reid. 

“This way you can go to this retail pack and get the same result, it also comes with an easy to follow ‘how to’, which makes it less daunting to a consumer.” 

This approach also has the added advantage of limiting food waste, most of which has been found to come from the home. 

“This is a one stop shop for the consumer. Simply pick up a pack and have a premium dinner offering ready within minutes. The act of melting everything in a pan, although limited involvement, gives consumers a sense of achievement,” added Reid. 

Juju Chen, Senior food technologist at Earlee Products, echoed Reid’s sentiments around the advantages of minimising food waste while value adding for food manufacturers and consumers. 

“A profile that has been very successful has been the green curry,” she said. 

“You can imagine how many ingredients are in an authentic green curry. If you had to buy all of those ingredients separately, you are likely to have food waste. 

“With this concept you can have such variety in your diet and meals without having to buy more than you need.

“It is not realistic to make big batches of food. And this way the consumer can also add their own personal touch to each meal.”

Earlee Products also ensures they source the best possible ingredients for their products. 

“This sauce concentrate concept ticks all the boxes. It is made with the freshest of ingredients, which caters to consumers who are increasingly looking to avoid overly processed ingredients in their meals,” said Chen.

Accurately understanding the goals and needs of customers’ is a critical part of Earlee Product’s approach and success, as well as looking ahead at what factors may impact the industry going forward. 

Brett McMullen, group general manager, Earlee Products, said the company’s diverse team helps produce better solutions because of the multi-layered approach, which is required and proven by the company’s solutions, such as butter discs.  

Butter discs are uniformly shaped components mainly consisting of butter that can be used on a variety of proteins and vegetables.  

These discs can be provided in various flavour profiles and can have many inclusions such as chilli flakes, herbs, garlic granules. Making them a flexible option for manufacturers looking to value add without massive overhead investments. 

“This disc goes with the meat as a co-packed product. It could be chicken, beef, pork, fish,” he said. 

“It could even be a mixed seafood pack. And it is sold in the same conditions as the meat that it is sold with which ensures it doesn’t melt before it’s supposed to, and if it does, then you have a good temperature red flag there.”

The benefits of the disc’s value add comes from introducing new and exciting flavours, with the added benefit of flexibility. Each solution and recipe are also unique to every client’s needs

“Whether it be chicken, pork, or beef producers, they put their protein into the bottom of the tray and then just get one of these discs to put on top,”
added Reid.

“This makes it easy for the manufacturers to diversify and value add their products.” 

Chen said the range of discs can also be formed into different shapes and sizes depending on the requirements of each Earlee customer. 

“It’s a range where the product can be formed in various shapes, sizes with ingredient inclusions which provides many opportunities of value add, particularly with meat products,” she said. 

“It’s an easy way for manufacturers to value add and introduce new flavours.

“And it’s not just for proteins but also for vegetables or roast potatoes and, seafood is another great option.”
Chen said being able to adapt each solution to a customer’s needs results in a huge variety of outcomes. 

“It’s important to be on top of trending new flavours with everyone looking for the next big thing,” she said. 

“So, in a familiar format we can give a wide range of different flavours and profiles. Whatever the customer is dreaming up or wanting, or is trending, we can do it.

“The persistence over the years, with each technologist adding their own flair, has helped diversify our offerings. We have also had interest from manufacturing companies, this has led to a huge variety of flavours that we can offer the market.” 

The decade long development and research around the butter disc value adds also demonstrates Earlee’s insight into market machinations, as the product has only recently started to find its place in the modern market, thanks in large part to external factors such as time poor consumers. 

Reid said this showed that the persistence Earlee Products has shown is finally paying off after market dynamics have started to lend themselves to the value-add offering. 

“Ten years ago, the research and development department believed in the product, but the market wasn’t ready for it,” she said. 

“Now, with consumers being time poor and food waste being high on the agenda of importance, and manufacturers wanting to value add, sauce concentrates are well positioned to meet these needs.” 

McMullen added that it didn’t take Earlee Products a decade to master the butter disc product, but it gave them a chance to refine it until the market
was ready. 

“We have had to adapt and modify to suit the potential partners and are able to be flexible for our customer’s needs,” he said. 

“And by the very nature of our team, and the fact they work so well together, helps us provide these solutions. And now some of the hurdles from the last ten years of development have become advantages,” he said.  

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