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Jo Agnew, marketing director at Urban Fruits and Bear brand owner told Food Manufacture ​in this exclusive podcast that its NPD sampling process had been forced to change in response to the crisis.

“The climate of the last 12–­18 months has definitely been a challenge that brought different timings and impacts to our project,”​ she explained.

Normally with the team in the office things are a lot quicker, so when we get samples in from suppliers, we can taste them all together and discuss that feedback first-hand.

“The biggest challenge for our innovation over the past 12 months has been more around time and logistics and making sure those samples come in, then immediately go out to all the panels that are tasting them. We’ve found different ways of running those sessions.”

Like many within the food and drink industry, Urban Fresh turned to video conferencing to keep the business running. The NPD process was no exception, with the outcome ending up more beneficial than expected.

No bias

“People can review the product by themselves and not have that bias of opinion when you’re all together,”​ Agnew added. “With that dynamic, we’ve really got the best possible product.”

Outside of the logistical challenges caused by the pandemic, one of the biggest challenges across the food and drink industry is the change in shopper behaviours.

With people less likely to make regular, smaller visits to retailers in favour of less frequent, bigger shops, the food-to-go market has been in decline.

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