Driving Product Innovation and Customer Engagement
Marcos do Espirito Santo, Product Development Manager, Soluble Coffee
As our Vietnam plant operations grew from strength to strength after the first roast in 2009, Olam took the view that continual innovation would be critical to meet and anticipate customer demand. As such, just before plant capacity was tripled to 12,000 MT per year in 2013, we set up a separate function to institutionalise product development within our Vietnam facility at Café Outspan Vietnam. In 2013, we expanded our R&D activities into a second location after the acquisition of Seda Solubles in Spain.
With the evolution of our role and capabilities, our product development team now supports the growth of the soluble coffee division by developing products that anticipate and meet quality and cost requirements for our customers across all market segments. Our strong six-member team leverages its diverse expertise to develop innovative insights and products. With the recent launch of a common platform across both locations, we expect to be able to continue building a databank that will allow us to accelerate understanding and development of actionable insights across all segments of the soluble coffee market.
One of our unique strengths is our sourcing ability. Olam’s extensive origination capability across 21 countries around the global coffee belt means that we have access to the full palette of flavours to work with. Some of our recent successful innovations include identifying strategic opportunities for standard spray-dried coffee qualities with competitive cost, as well as high-end premium freeze-dried coffees. High value-added certified products (such as UTZ, Rainforest) and special single origin products (such as Arabica Mandheling, Colombia and Ethiopia) are also in the portfolio.
Our work is seamlessly channelled across both plants – we selectively direct development exercises to the plant that has the competitive advantage to be able to deliver the best solution in terms of target taste, customer’s desirable cost level and delivery time.
Strong customer relationships
The success of our work is contingent on the strong relationships we have with our customers. Through deep customer engagement, our Vietnam factory now supplies bulk packs as an industrial ingredient to brand owners around the world, including Japan, EU, Russia and Southeast Asia.