Espuña, the perfect slice of ham

Technology and business model together

Esteban Espuña S.A. is a meat industry, a national leader in sliced products. In such a complex market as mass consumption, Espuña has managed to constantly increase its added value and to adapt the offer of products to meet market demands and consumption habits.

Slicing constitutes an excellent way of dosing the meat product and adapting it to the consumption facilities and its production and use sequence; this also allows the sufficient blending of the product to be packaged with the latest technology. One of its drawbacks is the perception of an excessively blended product; slicing treats the whole product equally regardless of its quality, therefore using it in premium products questions its perceived quality as all the qualities and the consumption interface are put together. The slice.

Differentiating the qualities of cured ham using the slicing process is a complex exercise, specially when it involves high-quality ham, in which the consumption habits of ‘hand-carved ham’ are widely spread in our gastronomic culture; they belong to the Premium concept of the product and they even affect the consumption mode and its organoleptic properties.

Espuña contacted Loop Business Innovation in order to define a technological way to slice hand-carved ham in different slices with the same peculiarities and characteristics as those obtained by hand-carving with a knife but in an industrial way. Later and once the carving process patent

was obtained, Espuña and Loop would work together in different business models for HORECA and mass consumption markets in which technology and the obtained product could be exploited.

The challenge consisted of getting slices of hand-carved ham with the same properties as handmade carving but with industrial processes and cadences, without affecting the perceived and real value of the ham quality and then creating categories of products appropriate for the result.

In the first phase, Loop and CDN teams worked on defining ‘the perfect slice of ham’; with this purpose we surveyed different users and consumers and we recognized the best Spanish ham carving experts. Once the various ‘topographies’ of perfect ham slices were obtained, they were scanned and digitalized in order to obtain their numerical coding.

Then, CDN worked on developing technology of an industrial nature that would allow the programmed slice carving of different ham legs;

once this process was carried out successfully, carving and packaging process followed.

The first marketing step as a product has been “Duroc de Espuña”, Premium hand-carved ham slices, which was awarded ‘Prize for innovation of the year 2009.

The result obtained shows the excellence of joint work processes involving technological application (CDN) and new business modelling based on it (Loop Business Innovation).

From Loop, we have applied the strategy of developing technology, patenting and building models and categories on various occasions making huge market success; some projects in which we have put this into practice are: Cornetto Soft de Frigo (Unilever), Martini vending machine (Bacardi Martini), Natural freshly squeezed orange juice (Zumex), Duroc (Espuña). This is why we are organized in two companies of services: CDN and Loop.

 
Foto

Mª Luisa Vives – Jaime Gross

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