Case Study/VFC

Streamlining our processes

“We wanted to streamline our process so we can move faster.”

“I thought: ‘there has to be an easier way to manage all of this’.”

Steph explained her busy role at Meatless Farm, which has now been acquired by VFC Foods Ltd: “I’m Technical Services Manager, which means I’m involved in supplier and raw material approval, and specs and artwork fall under me too. I also send products for testing, and help with new line forms and customer SAQs. There’s a lot to do.”

Despite the support she has from her team, Steph found keeping the plates spinning a challenge, like most of our customers do before they start working with AgileChilli. “It’s easy to fall behind with supplier approval, just because of the amount of work we have coming through. Before we had AgileChilli we had everything on a massive excel spreadsheet.

“To start with it was easy to manage things in Excel. Then the cracks started to show with issues like following up on BRC certificates when they were expiring. Keeping on top of that was difficult with a manual process. And, as we grew to have a lot more suppliers it became more and more challenging, and I thought: ‘there has to be an easier way to manage all of this’.

“Thankfully now we have AgileChilli, I don’t have to be going into that Excel sheet every single day to see who I need to contact, and who I need to chase. The system does it for me, and tells me when it’s done.”

“Simple, straightforward, easy to use.”

Meatless Farm’s team of chefs create recipes from the highest quality plant-based ingredients, with the simple goal of being as tasty, natural and healthy as possible. That means regularly updating recipes and adding new customers, and they recognised they needed software which could keep the pace. VFC Foods Ltd acquired Meatless Farm in June 2023 and they continue to use AgileChilli’s NPDtech software.

Steph explained how Meatless Farm originally came to choose AgileChilli: “We spoke to a few other companies and we felt AgileChilli stood out as the most user friendly. Some of the other systems looked dated, and I thought; ‘I don’t want to sit and look at that everyday. I want something that’s simple, straightforward, easy to use’.

“Knowing agile:NPDtech could help with the NPD side as well as technical, we quickly involved both teams in the decision making. We could see it would be best to have one system which works for all of us.

“It was a smooth sell internally to get people on board with the decision. We didn’t really get any objections, just lots of ideas for what we could get the system to do, what functionality we could have, and how it could help us all.”

“AgileChilli talked us through what we were going to need to do.”

With the decision made, AgileChilli set about supporting Meatless Farm with training and data population, to make sure they were ready to go live.

Steph explains: “Before the system went live AgileChilli talked us through what we were going to need to do. They set us up with a trial system so we could see how everything was going to work.

“With the data upload we had regular catch ups with Ollie at AgileChilli, so we knew how things were going. We were given import templates so we could easily copy and paste our data in. It was really easy. On the day we had all of the ingredients uploaded we were able to get the whole team to play around with the system and get a feel for it.

“Straightaway we saw how having all the tiles on the homepage is great. It’s in your face and you can work out what’s what straight away. Then it becomes instinctive because you learn which colour tile you need to go to for the job you’re doing. It actually makes it fun to look at.”

“I’m so glad we’ve got AgileChilli because it chases suppliers for me.”

With a broad smile Steph explains the one thing she likes best: “I’m so glad we’ve got AgileChilli because it chases suppliers for me.” But AgileChilli also helps at the other end of the chain, as the Meatless Farm customer list continues to grow.

Meatless Farm sells their products through the UK’s biggest supermarkets, hospitality businesses, and to dozens of countries worldwide. Each new customer brings its own way of working, and AgileChilli makes them easier to serve.

Steph continues: “Now we don’t have to replicate data across specs for every market we enter. The data is there in the system saving us time.”

And the benefits don’t end with the technical team. Meatless Farm’s team of chefs and nutritionists are dedicated to making fresh plant-based meat alternatives that above all taste delicious.

That means a big focus on new recipes, and AgileChilli is helping there too.

Steph explains: “Now, with the way AgileChilli works, ingredients can be added while in development, and then made live when they are used, so it’s easier for us to manage.

“The NPD team can put in the initial details for a new product which is in development, and I no longer have to go through each of the specs to say ‘yes, you can use each ingredient’. It also helps the product development team to have live cost data in the system, so decisions can be made more quickly.

New starters will benefit too. If someone joins the team and they’re asked to make a recipe, all of the information is there.”

“I’d definitely recommend AgileChilli.

AgileChilli helps us manage and streamline our process, and we have all of our data in one place. It’s making supplier approval so much easier, and not having to chase people; that’s the biggest benefit for me.”