Episode 2: Interviewees Team introduction Pulled Oats in the Dutch market

In this second episode we interview the team that is responsible for the introduction of Pulled Oats® in the Netherlands, which took place in January 2019 in foodservice and in summer 2019 in retail. Our conversation with Carin and Ronald takes place via video call. Carin has been working as Marketing Manager for Paulig in the past, and has returned to the company for the introduction of Pulled Oats. Ronald is Key Account Manager Foodservice at Paulig since 2018, and has been working on the Pulled Oats introduction for about a year. 

The passion the two interviewees have for their mission is clearly noticeable. They believe that willpower and teamwork are key to success, and they have high ambitions. ‘’We want the whole country to know about Pulled Oats.’’ 

‘’Success is a team effort’’ 

Let’s start at the basis. All Gold&Green products are plant-based. Is eating more plant-based an an important mission for yLet’s start with where it all begins: with the product – Pulled Oats. What do you think about the product and how does it fit in at Paulig?

Ronald starts: ‘’I was enthusiastic the moment I heard about Pulled Oats and couldn’t wait to start working on it. Since then, I’ve been learning a lot about plant-based foods and I’ve become more conscious about the environmental choices I make. I do sports a lot so I want to eat what is best for me. I found that a balance between plant-based food and animal protein is very important.’’ 

Carin explains the way Gold&Green complements the Paulig portfolio: ‘’Gold&Green turned out to be a perfect match with Santa Maria. Pulled Oats needs taste, Tex-Mex food needs protein. Recently, Santa Maria had an opportunity to sample at Dutch supermarkets. We chose to put Pulled Oats in every Tex-Mex meal; it was a great success. A real win-win situation!’’ 

The Netherlands is the first country where Pulled Oats has been introduced in retail, after its country of origin, Finland. Why the Netherlands? 

Carin: ‘’In 2017 we started evaluating the possibility of launching Pulled Oats in the Dutch market. The market of vegetarian products was already quite developed in the Netherlands at that time. This could be positive for Pulled Oats, since Dutch people were quite used to these types of products, but this also made it challenging, because the product would have a lot of competition. It was a risk, but we decided to go for it!’’ 

“One of our solutions for this challenge we found, was to connect the worlds of retail and foodservice”, explains Ronald. “We did this by adding a third pillar: Industry. This was a huge learning for us. We found that we were much stronger if we’d approach both retail and foodservice together with our industry partners. For example: Henri, a meal supplier, produces meals with Pulled Oats which are served at the IKEA restaurant, but are sold in supermarkets as well. Cooperating with them opens doors and gives us a great advantage.’’  

Carin: “It is a win-win-win situation. People taste Pulled Oats in a restaurant in a great-tasting dish, see its name on the menu, and remember it when they’re doing groceries.’’ 

What contributed to start of success of this introduction? 

Carin: ‘’We couldn’t have done this without a dedicated, passionate team that gives their all to achieve this mission. Not only in the Netherlands, but also the Finnish team we work very closely together with, and our industry partners. Success truly is a team effort!’’ 

Ronald recognizes this enthusiasm in the team: ‘’Our work on this product has sparked a passion for plant-based foods. We have started reading books on this topic and try to outsmart each other with the newest facts!’’ 

What was the moment you thought: ‘’Yes, this is going to work’’? 

Ronald is reminded about a memorable moment: ‘’We first tested Pulled Oats on the food industry fair Horecava in 2019, and the reactions were overwhelmingly positive. This gave us so much energy! Every night after the fair ended, the whole team kept hanging around to tell each other about all the great conversations they’d had that day!’’ 

Carin remembers this as well: ‘’This gave us full confidence in the success of this product. We thought: if we can even convince chefs, then we can definitely do the same with consumers.’’ 

Were there any challenges you’ve had to overcome? 

Carin: ‘’It actually turned out that consumers were more difficult to persuade than foodservice professionals. There are so many options in the supermarket and Pulled Oats is not as accessible as vegetarian hamburgers or chicken pieces. When you see the product, it’s not immediately clear what you’re supposed to do with it. This made success in retail harder than in foodservice.’’ 

What are your goals for the future? 

Carin: ‘’I’m very proud of what we have achieved so far. Every time I see Pulled Oats in a supermarket, it makes me smile. Right before this interview I actually got e-mails of two restaurants that have added Pulled Oats to their menu. That is what we are doing it for!’’ 

Ronald looks ahead: ‘’I think the collaboration between foodservice, retail and industry will bring us great things. I’m proud of where we stand, and I’m very excited for the future!’’ 

Interviewees Team introduction Pulled Oats in the Dutch market 

Carin van Thiel
• Responsible for the introduction of Pulled Oats in the Netherlands 
• Has become a ‘heavy flexitarian’ and is trying to convince her children to do the same 
• Wants Pulled Oats to become as common as chicken and falafel 

Ronald Cappen
• Key Account Manager foodservice at Paulig
• Likes sharing books, articles and facts about plant-based food with his co-workers
• Loves healthy food, but guilty pleasures are allowed! 

5 DILEMMAS, 1 TEAM. WHAT DO THEY CHOOSE?

Pulled Oats Nude or Pulled Oats Tomato?

Both choose Nude, because of its versatility. Carin: ‘’And because only the Nude variant is available in the supermarket in my neighbourhood.’’ 

Vegan or flexitarian?

Both of them go for flexitarian. They both like meat, but have been more conscious about their meat-intake since they started working with Pulled Oats. 

Sun or snow?

The team is split on this one: Ronald chooses snow, Carin prefers sunny days. 

Gold or green ?

Both choose gold. Carin because she likes it shiny. Ronald: ‘’It fits our ambition. We always go for gold!’’ 

Healthy or tasty ?

They both choose tasty, but they are convinced that tasty food is often healthy too. Guilty pleasures are allowed!