Developing a revolutionary new food product for a specialist market can be both a much-needed solution for customers and a lucrative new business opportunity for the developer. The problem is that many customer problems remain unsolved because they are complex. Complex problems require complex solutions and the process of having them adopted is also very complex as a result. This is exactly the situation that MG Food Solutions found itself in with the launch of its revolutionary Food Imperative product into the aged care industry but a key insight from working with Literally Brilliant changed everything.
Vitish Guddoy is a food technology entrepreneur and founder of MG Food Solutions. His business recently developed a range of products for the aged care industry under the Food Imperative brand. Focusing on consumer experience, using a real food approach to deliver a great taste and flavour experience that is enjoyable to eat, Food Imperative is improving outcomes for aged care facility residents.
“Malnutrition is a significant problem facing our older Australians and in such a wealthy society, that’s unforgivable”, says Vitish Guddoy. “The problem is that malnutrition results from a complex set of circumstances and often people simply don’t know where to start.”
Older people lose interest in food. Part of the reason is that they lose their partner of a lifetime, with whom they regularly shared a meal. It was worth the effort cooking for them but when they are alone, they are not sure it is worth the effort. At the same time, they become less active and tire easily as a result. They lose their sense of taste and smell so the rewards of eating well decline as the years progress. Sometimes they suffer from dysphasia as a result of injury, illness or simply forgetting how to swallow as a symptom of dementia. This adds another layer of complexity to the problem.
As soon as you start looking at solutions to this problem from within a residential care facility, all sorts of additional complexities are added. How does the facility deliver the most cost-effective solution in an environment of limited resources? How is food safety maintained? What are the clinical considerations? How are all of the diverse needs of the different decision-makers aligned?
“We developed a range of products that combined specifically designed nutritional profiles with convenience and a form that would connect the customers with the joys of their youth”, says Vitish Guddoy. “Yet when we presented the solution to an aged care facility, our new product was only rarely adopted for use despite a fantastic review by the facility dietitian.”
MG Food Solutions launched a slow melting nutrient fortified ice cream style frozen dessert under the Food Imperative brand that incorporated a specific balance of energy, protein and fibre for the needs of the aging population. The idea was to make nutrient intake something that was “food first” focused, allow it to be consumed safely and connect the consumer to their most enjoyable memories of food.
“I love to see the smile on the faces of older Australians when they taste our frozen dessert”, says Vitish Guddoy. “It is particularly fantastic to see that smile appear for those suffering from dementia and who struggle to be lucid in the moment”.
Vitish could not understand why his product wasn’t achieving a higher success rate when it was presented to aged care facilities and raised this at a regular strategy mentoring session with Literally Brilliant. It was quickly discovered that the customer decision-making process was highly complex and this required a complex selling approach.
The Managing Director and Principal Consultant of Literally Brilliant mapped out the decision-making process that was most likely undertaken by each aged care facility when considering the Food Imperative product range. He explained to Vitish that he had to listen to and understand the needs of the catering manager which would be different from the needs of the head dietitian. He would also need to understand the needs of the chief financial or commercial manager as well as the needs of the head speech pathologist and the head of clinical care. Once he understood those needs, he would have to explain:
- How Food Imperative delivers a clinical benefit for the care of residents to the head speech pathologist and clinical care team.
- How Food Imperative delivers a budgetary benefit over supplement use for the commercial team.
- How Food Imperative delivers a nutritional benefit to the resident for the head dietitian.
- How Food Imperative delivers a wellbeing benefit for residents.
“This was a revelation that seemed so obvious in retrospect, but I never really took the time to think of it like that before”, says Vitish Guddoy. “Once we had plotted out all of the different people in the decision-making process and understood their different needs, I could ensure that I was explaining how our product could address each of their specific problems. This resulted in a transformation in our sales success and the main factor in our revenue growth of 96% from the 2019/20 to the 2020/21 financial years.”
The frozen dessert product was followed by a mousse (salted caramel or mixed berry flavour) that was specifically designed for people with swallowing difficulties. The frozen dessert range is designed to be suitable for use with IDDSI framework Levels 1, 2 & 3 while the mousse product range is designed to be suitable for use with IDDSI framework Levels 1, 2, 3 & 4. This new product range is rapidly gaining similar levels of success as the original frozen dessert.
Literally Brilliant has been working with MG Food Solutions since 2018 and has assisted with the launch of the Food Imperative product range. Vitish Guddoy continues to meet with Literally Brilliant on a regular basis for strategy mentoring.
“Literally Brilliant has been a fantastic partner providing advice and assistance in ways that are consistent with our needs”, says Vitish Guddoy. “They continue to be a highly valued partner in our success”.