Lamb Weston values student input for innovation
Lamb Weston is a global player in the field of French fries and potato products, and has been a established partner of HAS University of Applied Sciences for many years. The company was nominated last year for a HAS Award in the category ‘Business Assignment’. Dirk van Dijk represented Lamb Weston at the awards ceremony and is still in close contact with the students and staff of our university of applied sciences a year later. He is enthusiastic about the collaboration with HAS students.
Looking for connections with others
“Three years ago, we noticed that innovation within our company had come to a halt,” says Dirk. “We looked at how we could get it going again. We did the rounds through our ‘ecosystem’ and asked how we could do things differently. Making connections with others was one of the recommendations in our survey. We followed this up by entering into partnerships.”
“Another recommendation was that we should add ‘a sense of experience’ to our concepts,” he continues. “We have a lot of ideas at Lamb Weston, but we tend to be quite technical. So we searched for a partner who could help us with this. That’s how we found HAS University of Applied Sciences.” A long-term collaboration was established in 3 steps: “First of all there was an orientation phase,” explains Dirk. “The first group of students who carried out a business assignment for us were looking at ways to add a real experience to French fries, and at how packaging could contribute to this.”
Potato Dipping Experience
The second group actually developed a number of concepts. One of those concepts focused on a new potato dipper. Michael Luesink was one of the students taking part: “We carried out market research into eating experiences in casual dining restaurants and quick service restaurants, in order to find out how we could add ‘a sense of experience’ there,” he explains. “We decided on the Potato Dipping Experience, a range of experience concepts in which sharing and joy at the table played a central role. In one of those concepts people could compose their own music by dipping into an interactive dipping board. Lamb Weston liked our concepts, and we are still in touch with them to see how the concepts may be further developed in the future.”
With the third group of students, Dirk let go of the reins. “With the previous 2 groups, I was closely involved with the contents of their work. I stopped doing this with the third group. This group focused on changing eating habits. The 3-meals-a-day culture is disappearing and we can see a 24-hour eating culture emerging. The students investigated how eating patterns are changing, what the impact is on our products, and how we can respond. The quirky ideas that the groups come up with never cease to surprise us: unique results that we can build on as a company.”