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“Product development is a voyage of discovery”

Published: 22-06-2016, | Member: Kitchen on a Mission

Create ten unusual snacks each quarter? That’s no problem for Kitchen on a Mission, based in New Vennep, the Netherlands. “Creativity starts with mutual trust and an open mind,” emphasizes director Rutger Stolting.

Developing innovative, beautiful and, above all, delicious snacks for delis, retailers and food service companies in the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom. That’s why Kitchen on a Mission, in 1994, was founded.

Kitchen on a Mission has grown tremendously in the last few years. A significant change came in 2015 when the company introduced a number of new, original products together with a major Dutch retailer. “By putting a new generation of snacks onto the market we’ve become leaders in this category,” says Stolting.

From mushroom tapenade to ham rolls and stuffed brie: the snacks from Kitchen on a Mission stand out by their simplicity. “We want our products to have unique composition and taste and we avoid artificial aromas, colors and flavors as much as possible,” says Stolting. “In their place we use the best natural ingredients available.”

Quality is paramount, but creativity is also an important driver for Kitchen on a Mission. And that creativity requires an open mind is something Stolting is well aware of: “You have to constantly look, listen and, above all, dare to experiment”. In his view, new product ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. “Not only from colleagues but also from friends and family,” he stresses. “Product development is not something you do from a theoretical framework, it is a voyage of discovery.”

According to Stolting a good relationship with the customer is vital. “You only really dare to come up with breakthrough ideas when you know the other party is receptive; when there is mutual trust.”

Inventing ten new snacks every three months means the speed of innovation at Kitchen on a Mission has to be amazing. “If we fail once in a while, so what”, is Stolting’s refreshing perspective. “That doesn’t matter. As long as you maintain the pace, use your business sense and ensure you have fun.”

And they do have fun together, the 60 or sometimes 120 – depending on the season – people who make up Kitchen on a Mission. “Our team is young, mainly in their twenties and thirties; a generation that has grown up with the concept that knowledge sharing is necessary if you want to move forward,” says Stolting. “That is how we continue to inspire and challenge each other.”

The Wind at our Back
As far as Kitchen on a Mission see it, the possibilities for new products are endless. “Luxury snacks used to be the reserve of the affluent class but, these days, everyone’s buying them”, he illustrates. “Retailers are increasingly emphasizing quality and experience. Fresh convenience products have become an essential part of everyday shopping. People are quite happy to cycle a little bit further for distinctive, delicious products.”

The creations of Kitchen on a Mission fit seamlessly into this trend. Stolting: “We have the wind in our backs and we’re smart enough to take advantage of it.”

Kitchen on a Mission