The tool allows manufacturers to order samples of prospective products, either as a finished food or a powder customers can process themselves
Planteneers has introduced the Plantbaser, a digital configurator tool designed to simplify the development of plant-based foods. Manufacturers can define the criteria for the product they want and build from the supplier's ingredient portfolio. The company can then send test samples of the prospective products, accelerating development timelines.
Dr Matthias Moser, MD of the Food Ingredients Division of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe, said: “We examined in great detail where in the product development process digitalisation would pay off. If you look at the overall development process, in our view it makes the most sense to shorten the first phase of the project, from definition of the product to the first sample. With Plantbaser the many coordination processes can be reduced to the minimum necessary, and the customer gets a new product ready for market much more quickly and efficiently.”
Torsten Wywiol, CEO of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe, said: “Digitalisation is making enormous progress in B2B. Digital customer contact has already become commonplace. So for us it was a logical consequence to develop an instrument that saves our customers a great deal of time and money through digital product development.”
For conventional meat and dairy product makers, the company says, the tool has the advantage of not requiring dedicated plant-based expertise. The tool shows which proteins fit which products.
For example, a company wanting to make a plant-based alternative to yogurt can choose between protein sources including almonds, cashews, oats and rice. They can also designate allergenic ingredients that should not be in the product. Properties like fat and protein content, colour, texture and mouthfeel can also be defined individually. After the product is configured, a video is produced, immediately giving an impression of the product with the selected properties. Moser said: “For this visualisation we made videos of countless products, so that customers can see what the final product will look like right on the screen. They can immediately see how the texture changes if they increase or reduce the fat or protein content.”
After configuration, a sample is ready two weeks later, either as a product ready for tasting, or as a powder the customers can process themselves. The ready-to-eat version comes as a set of four individual products. Per order up to three sets can be requested. The same goes for powder, which is available in three different grammages. Samples are not free of charge.
When the customer orders a product sample, they also get the ingredients list and specifications, plus step-by-step preparation instructions and specifics on the production equipment needed. Companies can check the status of sample orders in their personalised customer account. The product details are likewise stored there. If the sample meets expectations, the customer can order the respective compounds directly from sales. If the flavour or texture aren’t quite where they need to be yet, a different configuration can be ordered.