Put money into design

Small, ambitious food producers got together in Ås in January. There they received some advice and tips for successfully getting their products out to the market.

Trygve Nesje of flour millers Holli Mølle spoke about his success. The mill on the farm was ready in 2007. During 2008 and 2009, Nesje worked his way into a number of bakers. He has also worked his way into the Sunkost healthfoods chain. Trygve Nesje’s goal for 2010 is to get into the supermarkets.

“We developed a new design in 2008 and have received a number of awards for it. I have no doubt that design has meant a great deal for our success. A good design expresses quality and conveys good associations to the customer,” says Trygve Nesje.

Products need design help

Packaging and the internet are the two most important design elements for sales by small scale producers. Berit Lindquister of the Norwegian Design Council had some good advice:

“Don’t be production nerds. Get to know your customers. Don’t think about segmentation, think about what situation your customer is in when he or she buys your product. Make some choices – decide what you want to communicate. Small scale food producers have many convincing arguments for buying their products. Choose certain values that you want to describe your product. When you are separated from your product – when you send it off to the retailers for example – that’s when design is important. What if you chose a design you were really happy with, but it didn’t fit on the shelves. You would be lost before you had started,” said Berit Lindquister of the Norwegian Design Council.

Must be room for the product

Another of the speakers was Knut Lutnæs of Coop.

“Coop has a strategy of promoting small scale producers. But the products must have something unique about them, and there must be room for them in the market. We don’t have space for everything, so it is important for us to make a selection. All the products are assessed for taste, price and labelling, and we must have agreements in place with the suppliers. It is Coop that is responsible to the customer for the product,” said Lutnæs, who added that they have many requirements when it comes to quality and labelling.

Many requirements…

The requirements set by the supermarkets are seen by many as a serious barrier, with demands for agreements, calculations, traceability, declaration, food safety, shop follow up and returns.

“The better prepared you are to answer these questions, the better your chances of getting into the stores. You must think carefully about whether you are going to do everything yourself or outsource or collaborate on marketing, distribution or follow up with the shops,” said Rolf Sannes of Norske SpesialGrossister.

Consumer and sensory sciences  

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