"People wanted to add plant-based to their diets," Marine explains. "But it was hard to find one plant-based alternative to milk that met all of their needs, including offering a good nutritional profile, great taste and also being truly versatile, so that it can be used in everything they want, just like milk."
We wanted to really stand out and break some norms.Rani Business Manager for Dairy Beyond the Core at Nestlé
And so began a six-month intensive team challenge that resulted in Wunda, a pea-beverage that will see Nestlé make its largest ever foray into plant-based drinks in Europe. Wunda is of high nutritional value; it offers up a neutral flavor profile that lends itself to being drunk straight, poured over cereal, cooked with and used in hot drinks, and it has the right protein amount and consistency to hold its structure when frothed for coffee. Also, it will be carbon neutral from launch.
Disrupting the disruptors
The plan with the Wunda beverage was to disrupt the market. Diverse teams from across Nestlé were brought on board to work as 'intrapreneurs' using a start-up approach to ideation and decision-making. "We were betting on our idea," says Marine. "This meant taking more risks, going fast and accepting failure. As long as we were learning along the way and making the necessary adjustments to develop a great product, that was really all that mattered."
"We were trying to create a product that is completely different from what's on the market," says Rani, who is the Business Manager for Dairy Beyond the Core at Nestlé. "Wunda is an entirely new brand for Nestlé, entering the European market. We want to play supportive hero for our consumers. We need to be as bold as any hero. Our target market is millennials. Even the cues of the colors are quite unique for us. We wanted to really stand out and break some norms. We were aiming to disrupt the disruptors." This way of thinking meant that exciting things could happen quickly.
Through leveraging Nestlé's R&D expertise and proprietary technologies in dairy and plant-based products, while acting like a start-up, the team knew that they could be unstoppable: what Marine describes as 'the best of both worlds'.
The power of peas
Alexandre, R&D plant-based innovation lead at Nestlé's largest research and development center for dairy products and plant-based dairy alternatives in Konolfingen knew that together with his team, they had to help the intrapreneurs develop a product that was very different in an already very saturated market.
"Milk is a very nutritious ingredient," explains Alexandre. "When developing plant-based alternatives, we need to ensure the right nutritional value."
Peas are a good option because they are high in protein and fibers and also environmentally friendly. But, as Alexandre explains, there is an issue of taste. "Peas are prone to tasting beany and generating an unpleasant sandy and dry feel in the mouth". With the right technologies, they were able to overcome the unpleasant taste, while helping to create a truly versatile product.
Alexandre and his team were ecstatic when they trialed a prototype in a blind test: 61% of vegans preferred the pea-based creation over other drinks.
An evolving journey
As Wunda goes to market in France, the Netherlands and Portugal, the teams are excited to share their product. In the spirit of innovation, Wunda's launch is considered to be the start of an exciting journey. "We want to make sure that Wunda stands out in the European market, and we will continue to develop other exciting plant-based products for the brand," says Rani.
Alexandre, Marine, Rani and the rest of the teams behind the product are proud of what they have achieved so far. "We are putting something on the market that is relevant from a nutrition, taste, sustainability and versatility perspective," Alexandre beams. "Each time I take a sip of my latte with Wunda, I am proud of what we have achieved as a team."