Using Chef & Customer Panels to Improve Products

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How the client was able to make claims that their product was the most preferred by consumers

The client is a manufacturer of stocks, gravies, and jus that has been established for almost 25 years with a turnover of £2.2m. As a supplier in the food service sector, they wanted robust statistics which they could use to market and promote their gravy to their customers. The client wished to test three variants of gravy samples – Beef, Chicken and Savoury.

We recruited 100 customers that regularly ate dishes that included gravy and ate in pub chains. A blind taste test was conducted with the customers, looking at the clients’ gravy vs their closest competitors.

After this stage, we were challenged with recruiting chefs from cost and profit sectors, with a relevant split of subsectors, within these categories. We then recruited 100 chefs to take part in a testing panel. This panel involved a number of stages, meaning we could gather clear and insightful information.

 

Stage one:

Our chef panel made and tasted each of the gravy samples, scoring them on key attributes such as aroma, taste, and appearance, as well as the ease and speed of the process and the ease of blending.

Stage two:

To gauge the preferences between samples, we asked the chefs to note down their favourite from each category whilst they were cooking. This helped us to give the client a clear figure as to how many chefs preferred their sample.

Stage three:

We then asked our chefs what they think is most important when buying gravy for their kitchen, to give clarity to the marketing team. They were given a number of factors, including ‘made in the UK’, or ‘free from declarable allergens’, and asked them to rate these from extremely unimportant to extremely important.

Stage four:

Finally, we asked the chefs to look at the packaging for the clients sample. They were asked to asses the suitability of the sample when thinking about their kitchen and how key features were displayed.

As a result of our research project, our client was able to show the statistics we had gathered to their customers relevant for the sector, to demonstrate how well their products performed compared to their main rivals. They were also able to make claims within their industry to say their gravy is the most preferred by consumers.

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