DaVinci Gourmet, part of The Kerry Group, is a contemporary beverage brand which provides barista-curated products that elevate the taste and texture of beverages. Here, General Manager Mat Baker speaks about their latest in an exclusive interview with Hotel & Catering News ME.
Can you give us a bit more insight into what DaVinci Gourmet is and information on the brand history?
DaVinci Gourmet was established in Seattle, USA in 1989, the birthplace of the specialty coffee industry where more coffees are consumed than anywhere else in the world. At DaVinci Gourmet, we offer a wide variety of innovative beverage solutions that taste as delicious as they are easy to use.
We’re the contemporary choice for professional drink-makers inspired by artist Leonardo Da Vinci’s pursuit of perfection. We believe that baristas and mixologists are creative, and they seek perfection to amaze their audience. As such, our brand’s three key pillars ─ Art, Craft and Science ─ help guide us in everything we do, from product innovation, menu development to customer approach.
Art refers to the artists. We consider every barista, mixologist, beverage maker as true artists and we like to define ourselves as their palette. We provide the right portfolio of flavours and beverage solutions to help inspire and empower drinks artists to create masterpieces. We achieve this with our Craft. We craft our products in single batches using high quality ingredients to deliver authentic and natural flavours that lift the multi sensorial experience, and that are simple to use in any store environment – our beverage solutions can be used quickly, efficiently while remaining stable throughout the drink making process. Our True to Fruit syrups range for example, is crafted with the highest fruit juice in the market, delivering a true fruity experience in every sip.
With our Science, we work with more than 900 Kerry flavourists and scientists across the world to create proprietary signature flavours and unique technologies to meet consumers’ changing needs and expectations. Our TasteSense® technology for instance allows us to offer the lowest sugar syrups in the market, while still serving up the right sweetness intensity.
At DaVinci Gourmet, we are constantly innovating and evolving ahead of the beverage industry. As part of Kerry Group, we are today the largest beverage solutions company in the world.
What sets DaVinci Gourmet apart from its competitors?
DaVinci Gourmet understands the constant and rapidly changing challenges faced by F&B businesses in foodservice. We also appreciate that every drink is as unique as the person enjoying it. Our deep understanding of the consumer drives everything from our proprietary tools to solutions, allowing us to provide our customers with holistic support so they can offer innovative beverage products that their consumers love.
By understanding our customers’ operational procedures and constraints, who their target consumers are, and with deep insight on beverage trends, we help our customers, and their brands grow sustainably.
Our proprietary AI tool, Trendspotter®, forecast future trends in food and beverage and guide the development of winning consumer-preferred products. Our global Taste Charts® analyze flavour trends across the world and help our customers to select the right menu items for their market. DaVinci Gourmet’s strong global Flavour Genius network comprises a team of baristas and mixologists who are constantly innovating and supporting our customers for best-in-class beverages applications. With our science and technology, we develop market leading products with proprietary ingredients that are unique and first to the market.
Recently, we launched a range of functional boosts in the world, a first of its kind in the foodservice beverage industry. Consumers today are more aware of the importance of maintaining good health and beverage is the fastest growing category for wellness concepts. From immune and digestive health to protein fortification, they are now looking to add more ingredients in their diets that support their wellbeing.
As DaVinci Gourmet, we’re also planning to launch these functional solutions in the region by the end of this year. This range includes products such as Bulletproof Beverage Mix, Turmeric Beverage Mix and Plant Protein Boost.
How do the FLAVOUR GENIUSES from DaVinci Gourmet work their magic in creating each product/line?
There is endless scope for beverage innovation. At DaVinci Gourmet, we have established a very lean product innovation process and we follow a philosophy of co-creation, crafting each new product and recipe with drink artists.
We partner influential baristas and mixologists along with our very global network of Flavour Geniuses to identify opportunities and gaps in the market.
When we crafted the True to Fruit range, our Flavour Geniuses highlighted the gap for an authentic fruit solutions range. The big challenge to creativity came when using products available in the market ─ the taste of the drinks was too artificial or sweet. We then developed a range of fruit syrups with the highest fruit juice content in the market with natural flavours that enabled beverage artists to be as creative as possible while offering consumers great-tasting drinks with authentic fruit flavours.
We also worked with our Flavour Geniuses on DaVinci Gourmet’s signature sauces range. The sauces are crafted with a very precise viscosity that makes them easy to pump and to quickly dissolve in store. The mouthfeel is still rich, catering to consumers who want an indulgent, full flavour. This is our legacy range and bestseller, created to elevate the coffee drinking experience.
How did the idea of tapping into the Middle East come about?
We have been expanding the DaVinci brand across the world over the last 10 years. Historically, we had limited presence in the Middle East; in 2018, we formed a new team tasked to understand what consumers were looking for in this region, with a view to launch the DaVinci Gourmet brand as the coffee shop culture had exploded in recent years with large international coffee chains and local concepts appearing across the region. It was time to bring DaVinci Gourmet to the Middle East.
How was the launch in KSA received for the brand by the consumers?
The brand has been extremely successful in KSA despite the challenges of the last 12 months. We exceeded $2 million sales in the first year. With the help of Multibrands, our distribution partner, we have bought real excitement to the category and helped baristas and mixologists across the kingdom evolve their menus with exciting new flavours and concepts.
Two key success have been Pistachio sauce and Spanish Latte. Our high-quality Pistachio Sauce can be used in hot and cold coffee executions to bring an iconic Middle Eastern flavour twist to lattes and Frappuccino’s. Whist our unique condensed milk solutions allows baristas to make perfect Spanish Lattes time after time. Our DaVinci Gourmet product is designed specifically for their needs and available in a convenient 1 litre pumpable format. We continue to drive distribution across the country and look forward to helping operators develop impactful Ramadan and Summer beverage offerings.
What are upcoming plans for DaVinci Gourmet in the coming months?
We continue to expand the brand presence with plans to enter key markets in both North Africa and the Levant in 2021. From a product perspective, we have some exciting local flavour innovation around pistachio and watermelon, as well as some great functional ingredients and packaging format specifically developed to help maintain the quality of drinks during delivery. Watch our social media pages for more news!
What can consumers in the Middle East expect from the brand with the launch?
At its core, DaVinci Gourmet is all about helping baristas and mixologists create great tasting drinks, whether it’s an ice blended latte or an exotic fruit cooler. Consumers can always expect delicious new offerings from foodservice operators across the region that use DaVinci Gourmet. We hope to also give these a local twist, building on our extensive understanding of consumers in the Middle East and our strong on-the-ground presence in the region.
Can you elaborate on some key industry trends that either the brand has adopted for this year or that one needs to watch out for?
We see the rising popularity of local, nostalgic and comforting beverage offerings. And according to Global Data, 72% of consumers in Saudi Arabia say they are keen to try new flavours while 20% of consumers in UAE are eager to try seasonal coffee, while 1 in 3 want to try new or unusual flavours in hot drinks.
From Kerry’s 2021 Taste Charts, in the Middle East, we see upcoming flavours like salted caramel and pistachio for both hot and cold beverages; in hot beverages alone, condensed milk, coconut and biscuit cookie are trending. Anticipating consumer trends, DaVinci sauces and syrups offer a wide range of flavours, including trending salted caramel, coconut, pistachio and shortbread cookies.
Health is also an important consideration in our New Normal world. DaVinci Gourmet’s new range of fortified functional boost beverage solutions are designed to meet this growing consumer demand for the foodservice industry to offer beverages that support good health and today’s active lifestyles.
Finally, convenience and food delivery are the fastest growing channels, and we expect even faster growth rates in the future. Stability of drinks upon delivery will become more critical. Whether it’s our Frappease, Cooler or Texturizing bases, we ensure that smoothies, coolers, whipped cream toppings in drinks are delivered to the consumer with no compromise on taste or quality. We have developed a delivery crash test methodology, and are helping our customers adapt to the new delivery market through tips available on our website.
Beyond product innovation, we support our customers with the latest digital tools and through our own unique training. The Flavour Genius Academy is our proprietary applications training, helping beverages artists to perfect their craft across coffee, tea and mixology fields.