Product compliance: how we helped Agristo calculate and communicate the Nutri-Score

Jun 14, 2021

How energy-friendly is your fridge? How sustainable is your shirt? And how healthy is your food? Today’s consumers have become more critical about the products they purchase, which triggers the need for product compliance. Can software help you embed compliance in your organization? Absolutely! Just look at how we helped Agristo calculate and communicate the increasingly popular Nutri-Score.

Of course, product compliance has been around for a while. Traditionally, however, its scope was consumer safety: manufacturers had to ensure that their products met essential – often legally imposed – safety requirements. Today, the scope has shifted, or rather broadened, to include aspects like energy consumption, recyclability, sustainability, nutritional value and social accountability.

Compliance as a competitive advantage

“While some requirements are legally imposed, there is a growing number of voluntary standards that don’t require compliance by law. These are considered industry best practices,” says David Swillen, senior consultant at delaware. “Whether mandatory or not, compliance certainly helps companies avoid costs associated with fines, returns or claims, liability and reputational damage, while the standardization it implies boosts efficiency."

“In addition, more and more companies are deciding to certify to acquire voluntary labels like the EU Eco, FSC, Rainforest Alliance, V-Label vegan and Fairtrade labels. Complying with the requirements of these labels offers a true competitive advantage: they reinforce the brand and may open up new market opportunities. From a financial point of view, such compliance helps firms raise turnover, improve their margins and, hence, drive profit, as consumers are quite willing to pay extra money more for products with specific labels that meets their preferences, way of life, etc.”

voluntary labels like the Nutri-Score and ecolabels can boost a company's turnover, improve margins and drive profit, as consumers are willing to pay extra money
David Swillen, senior consultant at delaware

Make healthier food choices

The Nutri-Score is one of the standards that is gaining inroads in the food industry. “The Nutri-Score label shows the nutritional value of food, making use of a color scale (ranging from green to red) and a letter (A to E),” David explains. “Products with a letter A on a green background indicate that the food scores well in terms of nutritional value.”

“The Nutri-Score label was launched in France in 2017 but is now being rolled out in a growing number of European countries. A growing number of leading retailers and food manufacturers in Belgium, but also in Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland now include the Nutri-Scores of their products on the packaging to help consumers make conscious – and healthier – food choice.”

Agristo as an innovation leader

Potato product manufacturer Agristo, a long-term delaware customer, is one of the first companies in its sector to calculate the Nutri-Score of its products and communicate the nutrition label to their customers.

“Agristo has quite a strong track record of innovation. When we kicked off our move to SAP S/4HANA in 2018, we decided to consider the migration as the basis for a digital transformation across a wide range of activities. One of the many projects on this track was the implementation of SAP Recipe Development in order to boost the efficiency and compliance of our R&D department,” says Louise Ranson, R&D technologist at Agristo.

Harmonize R&D workflows in food

She explains that Agristo’s different R&D teams used to work in silos: “Our teams, each with its own specialty expertise, are spread across different sites in Belgium and the Netherlands. Everyone had their own ways of registering ingredients and managing recipes. SAP Recipe Development would help us register the characteristics of our products in a structured way, manage the list of ingredients and nutrients, work out product formulas and recipes and even include the nutrients in our packaging and labeling. That was just what we needed. The only thing that was missing in the module was a tool to calculate the Nutri-Score. We absolutely wanted to include the nutritional value of our products into our new R&D workflow.”

Calculate the score and generate the label

delaware’s Eline Vandekerckhove took up the gauntlet: “The Nutri-Score is based on an algorithm that takes all the ingredients of a food product into account: the amount – and type – of sugar, saturated fat, salt and calories as well as fiber, protein, fruit and vegetable content. Calculating that score is quite complex and was, we have to admit, new for us too.”

After a short brainstorming exercise, the project team decided to calculate the score using standard SAP tools instead of developing a new add-on. Eline: “The SAP suite includes a dedicated component to create specifications for ingredients and assign characteristics to them. A collection of expert rules enables us to describe dependencies between properties, such as: “if sugar is between 4.5 and 9 g per 100 g, then the score is 2”. We customized that component and integrated it into the SAP Recipe Development module. The software now smoothly calculates the score and generates the Nutri-Score label, which is then printed on the product specification sheet.”

the new solution helps our R&D team launch new, innovative products faster
Louise Ranson, R&D technologist at Agristo

Food innovations made easy

“The tool is also handy for our R&D department to understand the impact of recipe changes,” Louise adds. “We can easily simulate the impact on the nutrient value if we used a different type of salt, for example. As customers are increasingly looking for healthy food alternatives, these new capabilities will really help us optimize our recipes. Moreover, we decided to also include information on allergen levels as well as vegan, organic, halal and kosher properties in the recipe development tool. That will make it really easy for us to comply with these specific standards in the future. Altogether, this tool has definitely helped our R&D team launch new, innovative  products faster.”

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