Dawn Foods Shares Industry Expertise

In an interview with Carrie Jones-Barber, CEO, and Steven Verweij, President of Europe and AMEAP, we learned about the resources available from having a global presence, about innovations at Dawn Foods, and upcoming trends.

How does the global presence allow you to develop innovative solutions as a result of this know-how?

SV: It helps a lot; we have cross-fertilization of products developed for one country, which will without a doubt perform well in another country. For example, the vegan trend started small in some countries, and now we see it is spreading. Once you have access to different countries, you pick up those trends at a very early stage.

CJB: One of the things we also found, when I was living in England, was that the American-style bakery products that we were making were quite different than a muffin that was offered in Europe at the time. As we started to launch our products, our competition started to copy us. That is when we introduced “authentic American” goods, which nobody else could claim. The American product line in

Europe is still our fastest-growing range.

SV: For example, donuts are still relatively new in Europe. In Romania, we are just starting; McDonald’s is carrying them already, but we cannot speak about the bakery segment per se. Donuts provide tremendous variety and this keeps the segment growing, from plain donuts to ones with fillings, yeast, and all the way up to gourmet donut varieties. The options are endless.

Dawn Foods does business in more than 105 countries. How do you adapt to each of the local/regional trends? Please illustrate.

SV: In most countries where we are present, we have our own marketing departments, which work together with sales and the customer and the consumer. We do panels in European countries to see how consumers experience our products. Every time, we study how they use these products in their traditional recipes so we can customize our products. For example, Christmas and Easter have very local traditions. However, in many cases, they also use cake or sponge mixes. We use the same ingredients, add different elements, and apply them in a traditional recipe that is used in that country. That’s how we localize and cross-fertilize from one market to another.

CJB: When we expanded into the UK, we didn’t make scones at first. We learned how there, and then we brought them back to the U.S. The same thing happened with Mexico, with Pan de Muerte and Rosca de Reyes, which we are now sharing in the US with our Latino customers.

What are some of the new innovations Dawn Foods is introducing?

CJB: We have four areas that we are promoting. Every three years, we do extensive analysis and research to uncover the industry’s top trends. We’ve had a lot of excitement around our team’s trend presentations held here at IBIE; it’s standing room only. For us, it’s important to help our customers understand how these trends can relate to their consumers and drive them into their bakery.

We have some innovative products by co-creating with our customers: there are three new – honey, coconut, and coffee.

In addition, we are presenting our Balance line – real ingredients, clean labels, pantry ingredients that customers can understand. The line has cakes and donuts and brownies with fantastic formulations.

Then we have our Naturally Brilliant line, which is all-natural ingredients for our buttercreme style icings and flat icings. We are using things like beet and carrot and spirulina to obtain brilliant colors. That’s what our customers want, more natural products.

We are also highlighting our gourmet donut offerings.

SV: We have all-natural, gluten-free, vegan, as well as sugar- and fat-reduced donuts.

What are some of the challenges that you have overcome over the years?

SV: One example is the reason why we went into distribution. Some of our partners had difficulties, and in order to secure the supply, we helped out by becoming a distributor. One of the current challenges is the de-scaling of our markets. For us, it’s a challenge because some of our products will have to change. We talk about smart ingredients nowadays; they should be fail-proof.

And what challenges do you see in the future?

SV: For the future, the biggest challenge that I see is Brexit. And for the long-term, we have to prepare our ingredients for the next generation of bakers. They will be different, they will be digital-oriented, so we need to adapt and apply those tools to be ready for them, to communicate product information and creativity in the same “language”. On the other hand, there are fewer people entering the business every year; how can we attract young people to our industry?

How will Dawn Foods mark its 100th anniversary next year?

SV: We are preparing for a big celebration. We will have different moments of celebration throughout the year and an event in June for our team members. More details to come!

The 2020 Food Trends

At the show, Dawn Foods presented the 2020 food trends, a result of joined data from 75 global sources with context from its own 100-plus market visits to bakeries, foodservice spots, and more. The eight global food trends that will help grow bakery businesses are:

  • Blissful indulgence: in a highly-connected world, people look for opportunities to disconnect and reduce stress and anxiety from always being “on”. They want a momentary escape from reality with an indulgent sweet.
  • #Eatertainment: There is an experiential aspect to food that goes beyond mere sustenance, people seek ways to make eating an overall experience and a form of entertainment.
  • My Food ID: Food is an expression of who we are and it communicates our story. People want to share with others as they believe you are what you eat.
  • Mashup Adventure: Cross-cultural flavors with surprising combinations and twists give people a low-risk way to be adventurous and have unique sensory experiences.
  • Enlightened: people seek great tasting, pure and simple products free from artificial ingredients that are loaded with nutrients to fuel their bodies and support a health-conscious lifestyle.
  • Transparency 360: People choose brands that offer meaningful products aligned to bigger-picture values that impact the world, such as supporting local communities, sustainable practices, and environmental impact.
  • Twenty-five 7: Time is precious, and people are constantly exploring ways to save time and maximize the hours in each day. They look for easy, efficient experiences that won’t compromise food quality.
  • Just for Me: One size does not fit all, all consumers expect custom experiences tailored to their individual needs to make them feel known, understood and important.

Read more from the interview in European Baker & Biscuit, September/October, out soon!  

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