snack break | valess – meet the “meat”

Meatless “meats” are solidifying their positions in our grocery stores. More people are aware of this healthy and tasty alternative to meat. Valess is one the first Dutch meat replacement brands. We spoke to Vivian Collet, global marketing manager Valess, about this meat alternative.

Vivian started at a small project management agency, followed by an internship at L’Oréal and now works at FrieslandCampina for quite some time. She diversified between different disciplines, business groups and brands. Through a path from sales to marketing and from local to international focus, she ended up as global marketing manager for Valess.

What is its origin of Valess?

Valess was developed by a butchers son who became head chef at the renowned Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam. It has a rich history and was one of the first meat replacement brands being sold in the supermarket. Since the start, taste is our key pillar and an integral part of our DNA. A true testament to this is the positive feedback we received on our Valess patty on the vegetarian burger sold at e.g. McDonald’s NL: “Is this really vegetarian? As this taste and structure is so identical to chicken”   

What is your affiliation with Valess?

Currently I am Global Marketing Manager for Valess. A fantastic brand with a lot of potential and plenty of room for growth. The meat replacement category is evolving at a rapid pace and is sparking conversations within our society. It is interesting to hear the many reasons why people want to eat less meat. I would classify myself as a flexitarian. I eat both non-meat and meat and really enjoy the variety and possibility that it provides. Something different to eat every day.

What learning have you taken from your former job and is applicable to your current position?

Listen to your customer (consumer or retailer): What do they really need? What problem can you help solve. This is not done from behind your desk. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Get out there and talk to your consumers. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, test your ideas, learn from them and then adapt. Finally, timing is key! Anticipate on insights connect them to your clients.

Can you describe your typical Valess customer?

Our consumers want to eat more conscious while reducing the amount of meat they eat. They are open to trying new experiences (in a cautious way) and exploring how they can incorporate a meat alternative in their favorite dishes. Above all, they would like to make these decisions without making a concession on flavor. It has to be a tasty piece of meatless “meat”.

What are your key goals for the brand, and are you looking to reposition the brands messaging?

The biggest challenge we face is that consumers still have some doubts about the taste of meatless “meat”. Can I make my favorite dish taste as good? If you’d like to eat less meat, you wouldn’t like to do concessions on its flavour. What you eat has to be delicious. 

At Valess we set out to show that you can create a delicious alternative to your favorite dishes. That Valess IS tasty and a perfect solution if you would like to eat less meat or if you would like to try something new. This ties into a huge awareness campaign and expanding our product range. Together with our partners we’d like to keep on expanding the brand and the category.

Have you refocused efforts as a result of COVID-19 and what has your response been?

Due to COVID-19 we see an acceleration in the focus consumers have towards what they eat. Healthier and more conscious. This acceleration is resulting in further growth of the meat replacement segment. In addition, similar to other categories we see a very strong growth in E-commerce. With more consumers doing their groceries online it is vital that you are available and have consistent content across the different e-shops. In the last couple of months we worked quite a lot on this.

What is your favorite way to use Valess?

I love wraps filled with vegetables, super crunchy Valess crispy sticks and a spicy sauce to top it off. Super easy, mouth-watering and above all vegetarian.

Anything to add?

I am always interested in hearing the different ways our consumers use our different Valess products. My curiosity also drives me to understand what the barriers are for people in order to give Valess a try. In the coming months our new campaign will go live that was created in good collaboration with Chuck Studios. I am very proud of the end result and hopefully your mouth starts to water just as it did for me. 

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