17 Dec 2020
The pandemic outbreak of Covid-19 gave many companies a hard time, while also offering opportunities to collaborate and see things from another angle. Tine Vandaele, Marketing Manager Retail at La Lorraine Bakery Group (LLBG), a Belgian family-owned company with more than 80 years of experience in the milling and bakery sector, highlights how a creative and innovative mindset positively shapes the outcome of a new product development.
Because of the temporary closure of bars, restaurants, and of hospitality sector as a whole, during the first lockdown, AB InBev was looking for ways to repurpose their unsold barrels of Leffe beer. This would avoid them go to waste, while helping people in need.
Next to turning the leftover alcohol from their non-alcoholic beers production into free disinfectant and hand sanitizer for the frontline workers, AB InBev approached LLBG to investigate the possibilities to bake special breads.
That is when the three Belgian companies, AB Inbev, Delhaize and LLBG decided to join forces during this time of crisis for a new solidarity project, to offer a completely exclusive bread made from Leffe Blonde or Brune.
Prepared in the traditional way in one of the LLBG bakeries in Belgium, the two breads (Leffe Blonde bread and Leffe Brune multigrain bread) were sold in Belgian Delhaize supermarkets.
For every five breads sold in Delhaize stores, the three brands agreed to offer a family-size bread (800gr) to Belgian Food Banks.
“For La Lorraine Bakery Group, reducing food waste is an absolute priority in our sustainable development strategy. When AB InBev informed us that they were looking to repurpose unused Leffe, we immediately considered the idea of using it” to make a loaf of bread!” mentions Vandaele.
Although the concept was clear from the start, the collaboration opportunity came along with interesting challenges.
Some of these were logistical and involved the transport of the beer on premises, usually equipped to supply water. Once the beer was on-site, the pressure release as well as the foam creation also needed to be acknowledge for a stable recipe.
“We started experimenting, replacing water by beer, looking for the perfect combination between the flavours of the beer and our sourdough. In spite of the challenging times, our master bakers developed two beautiful breads in a record time”, comments Vandaele, before adding “I will always remember the first tests we conducted with 300 cans of Leffe. These were manually opened by the team which left good memories but also a few bruised fingers.”
The two breads were developed and on the market in a record time of 4 weeks with a total of 60.000 breads baked during the two months of the campaign, resulting in 10.000 breads delivered to food banks
To ensure a positive reaction to a new product, the product launch requires a lot of careful planning, especially in a retail environment, where standing-out can be difficult. Therefore, a very close collaboration between LLBG and Delhaize was crucial.
Yet, the unprecedented demand and pressure that strained the entire retail ecosystem made it very challenging to launch and promote the product following the rules of art.
Nevertheless, the learnings and impact of the project were numerous according to Tine Vandaele, Marketing Manager Retail at La Lorraine Bakery Group (LLBG).
Under normal circumstances, this would be a project which takes quite some time.. It was a surprisingly fast New Product Development process which has allowed us to optimize some of our flows internally. Besides that, it was a fantastic project from a social and a solidarity standpoint.
A true opportunity and pleasure to work alongside two key industry players while intensifying our collaboration with food banks, concludes Vandaele.
This article emphasizes that, although these are strange times, they drive us to take action and unleash our resiliency.
All together we have proven that we’ve got this.
#MindsetMatters #WeveGotThis #RelyOnUs