- Nestle SA’s French-trained director of culinary innovation, Lucien Vendome, has been recruited to figure out how to jumpstart sales of Nestle's leading frozen foods brand, Lean Cuisine.
- For the last 16 months, Vendome has overhauled the brand, the biggest overhaul in its 34-year history, shifting its focus from fat and calories to organic, high-protein, and gluten-free meals.
- Over the past two years, sales for Lean Cuisine have fallen by about 20% as consumers shift their focus away from processed foods and toward fresher foods and simpler, more natural ingredients.
To develop new recipes for Lean Cuisine, Vendome and his team took inspiration from food magazines and other chefs to create recipes that speak to the suburbanite consumer while also meeting the expectations of an urban foodie population.
"In a given year, Nestle might test 5,000 recipes and will tweak about 20 percent of those," Bloomberg reported. "As of next month, frozen-food innovation will be housed in a $50 million innovation center in Solon, Ohio that will ultimately be staffed by about 120 employees."
In addition to new recipes is a new understanding of consumer perceptions for healthy foods and weight loss. Lean Cuisine has been divvied up into four product assortments: Craveables, Comfort, Favorites, and Marketplace. The last includes healthier options, like organic cheese-and-bean enchilada verde. Focusing on ingredients rather than calories is one new strategy for Lean Cuisine that may pay off for the brand and the entire industry.