Inspira Food Group bets on culinary innovation and reinvents takeaway food

Mihai Cristea 09/03/2020 | 13:48

Inspira Food Group, a top player in the market of restaurant chains that use healthy ingredients from controlled sources, owner of the Pagaia and Q’s Inn brands, is expanding its business with a new concept uniquely blending research and culinary innovation to make takeaway food healthier and safer.

Inspira“, the new takeaway food brand, has been launched after a year of research and tests done by a team of chefs along with specialists in chemistry and food safety. In the final pre-launch stage, the products were validated with the help of the employees, collaborators and a group of 500 Pagaia and Q´s Inn customers.

Inspira culinary innovation. Same food. Food safety 4K.

The research team, coordinated by the founder of the Group, has identified the recipe by which takeaway food, once heated, can display the same nutritional and sensory properties it had when it was freshly cooked.

“Over 6000 employees from multinationals in the Pipera area eat breakfast and lunch at Pagaia and Q’s Inn every day, out of which over 50% buy takeaway food for later or for colleagues. Still, takeaway food behaves differently as it cannot maintain a temperature above 62 oC, in the case of hot food, or below 5C in the case of cold food, as it does within the specialized restaurant displays. Within this temperature interval, conditions are ripe for the rapid growth of microorganisms. This type of problem is precisely what pushed us to develop the Inspira line of business, which responds to a specific market demand and because a duty of care we have towards the end consumer. We innovated new techniques in the cooking and storage processes. For instance, products such as mashed potatoes and polenta lose their texture after cooling off, whereas we invested three months in iterative research and testing so that this type of products can regain, once warmed up, the sensory properties of a just-cooked dish. Most importantly, by taking full responsibility for our role in society we managed to provide healthy foods, through the careful vetting of sources for our ingredients. Healthy food, when coupled with large volumes, becomes an ambitious proposition” said George Duduna, founder of Inspira Food group.

Unlike the products prepared for immediate consumption at Pagaia or Q’s Inn, Inspira line dishes are cooked using the same ingredients, but then, with the help of professional chillers, they are quickly cooled and packed engulfed in a protective atmosphere so that all the nutritional, sensory (taste, smell, texture) and food safety properties are maintained for a few days, without the need for additives or additional preservatives.

Ready meal between 2 categories. Inspira opens a new market.

Romania has two types of players within the ready meal market.

First, there are the suppliers who offer mass-market options and use ingredients that allow them to maintain competitive prices, thus ensuring their presence on supermarket shelves.

Second, there are the healthy-food niche players offering healthy options at higher prices, many of whom only have a web-based presence. The menus are rarely diversified, and some of the players are in the diet-support area.

“Inspira opens a new market, with food from healthy ingredients, of controlled origin, but at affordable prices. We can do it because we have been continuously innovating and investing in our restaurants. We work with suppliers from around the world, including local producers, who supply high-quality ingredients. Soon, we will produce most of the vegetables used by Inspira Food, which will allow us to maintain competitive prices and further increase quality. With our sizeable market footprint and a strong innovation background, we are compelled to continue innovating, researching and growing our knowledge. The step toward Inspira, as a high-quality takeaway food, came as an extension to our existing business. Still, for healthy eating to become the norm, prices must remain affordable,” explains George Duduna.

The typical customer who comes to Pagaia and Q’s Inn for takeaway food tends to have an active life, a busy schedule and no time to cook. This kind of customer is also an autodidact who travels often and has high culinary standards.

Obviously, organic food generally has a higher price, but Inspira Food Group has bet on healthy food at affordable prices ever since its inception.

The Inspira line will reach a minimum of 50 variations in several categories, including vegetarian products. In the short term, Inspira products can be purchased at Pagaia and Q’s Inn, as the company is focused on incorporating feedback from retail customers, while in the medium term it will launch new distribution channels, including vending machines and online. For 2020, the Inspira Food Group estimates revenues of over 5 million lei from the Inspira line only.

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