Interbrand Thinking

Q&A with Laura Garcia Mateo, European Category Director at GB Foods

GB Foods

Q&A with Laura Garcia Mateo, European Category Director at GB Foods

Let’s start with the customer. Why do they choose GB Foods?

They choose us because we’re all about local flavors: we truly believe in connecting with consumers from within. We appeal to what has been part of their lives for so long. We celebrate local flavors, and we are a companion in their kitchen while still giving them a key role in their endeavors in the kitchen. We allow consumers to actively get involved in products to help them achieve local flavors they know and adore. We want to bring a sense of connection. Food is something that’s a means to connect. That’s also why local fits so well with connection. Secondly, we want to give a way to enjoy being with the ones you love (bringing connection, proximity, authenticity).

Do you feel that in-home cooking experiences are growing and will keep growing in the future?

The categories where we play are very resilient to crisis – we’ll continue leveraging on that. It may not be the COVID-19 pandemic now, but economic crisis is making us not go out and eat out as much as we were used to. Other things will always come that take you back into the kitchen. This is our strength. There will always be a role for cooking at home.

We cater our innovation to stay relevant and offer solutions that consumers need to fit whatever concern it is that they have at that moment, like the nutritional concern (half-prepared food vs prepare fully myself) or convenience (is it as convenient as it should be? Can I find something more convenient?).

Today, growing our core is tough, to continue at the same pace, we must be more innovative. A great way to keep growing would be entering new arenas.

Where do you see your business in 5-10 years?

I think there’s a pivotal moment now. We’ve been very lucky and have grown a lot from the core of our business; we did everything we could with our core business to get to where we are now. But there is still so much we can do to make it better.

Growing in our core now is tough, so to continue with the same pace, innovation must start playing a much more active role in incremental numbers. A great way to keep growing would be entering additional categories where we don’t play now and entering new dishes. A big thing would be bringing something totally different, targeting completely different dishes in Italian cuisine with different ingredients.

We are looking towards finding incremental platforms to grow outside of the category we have today. It can be organically or externally, but if done by acquisition, it must be a business rooted in local households—something very local. So, shine the core, and then acquire a company that fits brand elements.

There are some insurgent brands that do a great job on all things related to sustainability—it’s very good to be inspired by them and disrupt markets. What I still don’t see are very clear examples of who does that and at the same time is able to do a sizeable business. They always stay in very small niches. There is still a question of how to turn [a big focus in sustainability] into a competitive advantage driving significant penetration. They stay very strong, but in their little niche.

How do you see your sector evolving in the future? If you could imagine your company in 2050, how would it be?

The holy grail would be a future solving the challenge of better products for health without compromising on taste. Right now, it’s impossible. We expect to achieve a future where consumers don’t face the dilemma of how good the food they eat is related to health or experience. And also, no compromise between what’s good for the planet versus what’s good for the wallet.

We see also food and cooking as very stuck to tradition; we’re helpers in the kitchen, but the consumer still has an active role and a comforting tradition in the kitchen. While they have no control over anything else, cooking in their kitchen is the one moment in the day when—while they welcome a helping hand—they still have an active role in making their food and deciding what to eat.

For the future, I’m also a firm believer in partnerships. Alone we can’t always solve our problems, and I’m betting on the role of partnerships in elevating the two big issues of sustainability and taste.

We help people in the kitchen with products that are tasty and safe, but we’re still not connecting within the kitchen experience, and in that room, there may be plenty of opportunities to do. What you do p_l_u_s_—allowing others to keep collaborating with you and creating an experience where all actors are very good at doing what they are doing without pretending to cover all angles of it.

Lastly, we want to offer extremely nutritious foods that people can make well. How do we look in the future of combining two pieces that are currently being seen in isolation, by different companies, together?

We need to also understand other Arenas to accelerate and innovate consumer experiences, and end results will be better for them.


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