What do you do in your position at Foodology by Univar Solutions?
“Whether it’s plant-based protein or clean labels, we work hard to determine how to provide those solutions to our customers. As chefs, we find ourselves navigating through the dynamic landscape of consumer preferences. What do they want in their food? What don’t they want in their food? Is there a way to make formulations cheaper or net neutral?”
How do you get to the root of what consumers want?
It’s not a simple task. Chef Mike says getting to the root of what consumers want requires you to be very data driven and put your own preferences aside.
“As R&D chefs, we may have our own personal opinions on ingredients and products, but it’s not our job to impose what we think. We need to figure out what the customer really wants. When you work in R&D, it’s not your name on the door or your family’s interpretation of the recipe that matters. I need to understand our customers and their buying intentions.”
How do you stay nimble in the age of internet scrutiny?
“If the internet decides they don’t want an ingredient in their food, yes I can try to educate them and understand why. But in my role, we have a huge portfolio of ingredients and when one thing gets vilified or negative press, we have the alternatives to use.”
What’s one exciting thing you’re working on right now that addresses consumer wants?
“We recently developed a pre-acidified whey protein that dissolves in water and is very clear. We developed this Powerade-type beverage that has almost as much protein as your traditional protein shakes but is more of a juice-type item as opposed to a protein shake. At IFT, we had two big beverage brands come by our booth who wanted to learn more about it. So, at Foodology we are actually influencing the next generation of products out in the marketplace.”
To learn more about what Chef Mike and his team at Foodology by Univar Solutions are working on, tune into the full conversation on your favorite podcast platform. Chef Mike dives deeper into research and development, authoritative voices in the food system, his upcoming Dungeons and Dragons cooking show and how lessons learned from being in a heavy metal band have shaped his professional career.