Globally, cupcakes and muffins are big business. Everyone – from the smallest corner bakery to mass producing corporate giants – has a variation to tempt the palate. This makes for a very competitive marketplace and leaves you fighting to retain market share and forcing you to come up with innovative ways to stand out in the crowd

The key, in any industry, to sustainability is innovation. Get ahead of your competitors and stay there. This is, however, easier said than done, and investing your hard earned cash into product development, and marketing on an untried product makes us all sweat just a little bit.

It is at times like this that we look to the innovators and industry stalwarts for inspiration. The Baker spoke to Lara Moretti, product manager at Rich’s, about how they manage to maintain a viable, sustainable business in a competitive global arena and look at their latest offering, the Duffin.

Innovation is key

‘’The muffin market is extremely competitive with a lot of companies playing in the space,’’ said Moretti. ‘’We also see bakeries and supermarkets

making their own muffins from scratch. At Rich’s we know that the only way you can stand out from the crowd is by offering a quality product that differentiates you from your competitor.

“ It is worth noting that Rich’s was the first, in the South African market, to launch a premium baked muffin supplied frozen, in a tulip liner. The innovation for the customer was that this particular product required no baking at all. All the customer had to do was thaw and serve.’’

Rich’s takes a holistic view of the market and understands that, in this particular market, there are different operators – each with different needs. ‘’We understand that people, and businesses are unique when it comes to their needs. Taking this into consideration, we offer a wide range of muffin products to cater to diverse requirements.

Our muffin range includes muffin batters, individually wrapped muffins in a variety of sizes and weights , thaw and serve premium topped muffins, in both 60g and 120g sizes, as well as un-topped 120g Jumbo muffins, and recently launched, filled centre muffins, all in variety of exciting flavours.’’

Coupled to a wide product range, innovation plays an important part in Rich’s business strategy. ‘’We are always looking for new opportunities to enhance the market. Keeping with innovative trends globally, Rich’s recently launched the Duffin. This particular product is a donut-muffin hybrid.  Alongside this we also include the filled muffin offering which is available in four flavours: Chocolate, Cappuccino Chocolate, Banoffee and Berry Burst.’’

Hybrid opportunities

The Duffin takes advantage of a huge uptick in the popularity of hybrid foods inspired by Dominique Ansel’s development of the Cronut (croissant -donut hybrid). This innovation has opened up a raft of new possibilities and combinations, and has everyone looking for the next big thing. ‘’Tapping into this trend Rich’s developed the Duffin. We took the best of a muffin –  moist texture and iconic shape – and mixed it up with elements of a traditional jam-filled donut and the Duffin was born.’’

Rich’s, being a leading supplier and solutions provider to the foodservice, in-store bakeries and retail marketplaces, is at the coalface when it comes to market trends and stick to a formula that emphasises quality, convenience and efficiency for customers.

‘’Our innovations can be found in kitchens and bakeries around the world and we take great pride that we are able to foster customers’ growth around the globe. This international experience has stood us in good stead and allowed us to bring selected products to South Africa that really suits the local market. There is, of course, a lot of work that goes into identifying new products for particular markets, but the starting point is always knowing your customer and their specific needs.’’

Going forward, Rich’s will continue to pump capital into their R&D which, according to Moretti, is the cornerstone of the business. ‘’We have a team of people at a world class facility who are dedicated to R&D with the goal of developing quality products that taste great and delivers to the customer. The measure of success of our efforts is when customers return for repeat purchases.’’