The Idea Works – Fever pitch

10 August 2012 by
The Idea Works – Fever pitch

The Idea Works, Compass Group's quest to discover exciting and innovative products and solutions, has held its second judging session. Lisa Jenkins was there to witness the pitches

Green Saffron Spice blends

The pitch
The Green Saffron spices come direct from farms in India with the focus on flavour, texture and taste. Only pure flavours are used and no bulking agents. Green Saffron owner Arun Kapil presented.

The Q&A
Nick Vadis They smell great but I'm not sure how you are "ripping up the spice market" as you said in your presentation.

Arun Kapil It's the raw products and my blending skills, essentially. Getting the right blend and marrying the flavours to the dish. We also use jaggery, a raw sugar cane, and rapeseed oil for volume. The pastes are viscous, so can be adjusted to taste and texture preferences.

Oliver Cock What work have you done on costs?

AK We have worked with Green & Blacks and a meat company in Ireland which is now using less mace and black pepper and is, therefore, saving on ingredient costs.

What the judges said
NV Yes, but we need to explore the range more.
CN Yes, with some more comparisons.
OC Yes, with assurances on ethical supply standards.
AO Yes, agree with OC.

Adam O'Connor comments
"Arun was great fun and really passionate about his products. However, we didn't really feel that his products demonstrated true innovation; we've been blending spices for a long time. We're going to keep in touch with Arun because he has some great spices and contacts in India."

The Roast Blanket

Roast cosy
Roast cosy
The pitch
The Roast Blanket is a stainless-steel, chain-mail roasting blanket with a lifetime guarantee. It is a high-quality, reusable alternative to tinfoil, according to its inventor, Helen Waterston, director of Innovative Gadgets

It can be used to cover joints while roasting, allowing the meat to brown, crisp and caramelise through the blanket in a single application, with no need to remove anything in order to baste the meat.

The Q&A
Nick Vadis I'm trying to picture these in our units - how do you wash them?

Helen Waterston In the dishwasher or in soapy water.

Claire Nutter What about the safety aspect? Could one of the rings come off?

HW No, because they are manufactured for food service and have been tested in other scenarios - for example, metal gloves.

Oliver Cock What problem does it solve Helen?

HW It's a sound environmental product with proven return on investment, payback in three months from reduction in tinfoil.

Adam O'Connor How does it help with portion control?

HW Well, you can roll the meat in it and that keeps it together more, which creates a better position for cutting. The moisture retention also helps with yield.

What the judges said
NV Would like to trial some on a busy site, until then I'm a bit sceptical
CN Yes, let's trial.
OC Yes to trial.
AO Yes to trial.


Adam O'Connor comments
"We could see why the Dragons' Den-style panel loved this product; it's a great idea for home use. If this product is durable and we can prove that we can save money and reduce waste on foil then we'll look at it. It is a real innovation so we're going to test it in some really busy sites to see if it does deliver."

Portable beer dispenser

Beer dispenser
Beer dispenser
The pitch
The portable beer dispensing cooler can dispense beer, sparkling wine, Pimms and Guinness to 4°C within five minutes. It works on compressed air - which is free and unlike gas does not present any health and safety risks. Also, as there is no air ingression, the shelf life of the drinks is extended. With flow rates from 15 to 140 litres per hour, it is also an excellent time-saving piece of equipment and would work really well at weddings, sports events, corporate events and small hotels.

The flexibility and portability of this product are its key advantages, according to Draft Beer Online owners Gerry and Glen Dack.

The Q&A
Adam O'Connor Would the pouring time be slower?

Gerry and Glen Dack No, it's ready in just five minutes and the wastage has been proved to be less than a gas pump. It's cooled all the way through the pull and it's a really short length of pipe.

Oliver Cock What is the warranty?

G&GD It has a one-year, return-to-depot warranty and with 200 in the field we have only had five break down in three years. We have the world patent on this, too.

What the judges said
NV Yes. I like this. I like the simplicity and the lack of health and safety complications. I can see where it will work.
CN Yes.
OC Yes, let's get it into some units as soon as possible.
AO Yes, very exciting product.

Adam O'Connor comments
"This product could dramatically change parts of our business where we need to deliver chilled alcoholic drinks, either at short notice or in unusual environments. We're going to speak to one our sports stadia clients about deploying this product for the new season."

Salt enhancer 1

Ian Neil NTC
Ian Neil NTC
The pitch
Natural Taste Consulting (NTC) is a biotech company based in the USA that has been set up in the UK.

With excess salt in everyone's day-to-day diets, we need new initiatives to reduce this problem in the industry - without losing the all-important taste element.

The product presented is called Salt Enhancer 1, a plant extract, fermented and manufactured to offer an alternative to salt, by providing a more rounded taste which can be substituted for the entire salt amount in recipes, or used as a percentage of salt requirement. It looks like and acts exactly like traditional salt. Ian Neil, co-owner of NTC, took questions.

The Q&A
Adam O'Connor Is it safe?

Ian Neil Yes, it's a fermentation product.

Nick Vadis We would have to ask our suppliers to build this into our products. You wouldn't put this in the kitchen.

Ian Neil Yes, or you could speak to your salt supplier about combining this with natural salt.

What the judges said
With the caveat that it is tested through one of the Compass suppliers.
NV Yes.
CN Yes and will follow up.
OC Yes.
AO Yes.

Adam O'Connor comments
"This is really exciting. Considering we've already taken a significant amount of salt out of our supply chain, this could present an opportunity to reduce salt levels further. We're going to look at this product in detail to review the food safety elements and then speak to our suppliers about how we can use it. We simply have to help our consumers eat less salt, so this could be a good way to do it."


The pitch
"The T-Stick offers innovation and differentiation to your business," claims Ricky Kothari, owner of distributor Innovashion. It's a leaf tea in a stick with perforations, allowing the tea to brew in the cup at the same time as stirring in your sugar. "There is no need for a spoon or those messy ‘rip and tear' tea bags," adds Kothari.

This product helps reduce the mess of tea bags on your conference and function linen, on average 25p per tablecloth to clean. It also reduces the loss of teaspoons.

The Q&A
Oliver Cock Is this normal tea?

Ricky Kothari Yes, it is leaf tea from South Africa and we have accreditation through Cedex.

Nick Vadis You have to stir, otherwise it doesn't brew right?

RK Yes, you have to agitate them.

What the judges said
NV Yes, I like it, it stops the mess. It is innovative and we could use it in the healthcare sector.
CN No, sorry! I love the concept, but I don't like the taste or the branding.
OC We would need to look at the branding.
AO Let's talk further about the branding.

Adam O'Connor comments
"We loved the technology and the innovation but unfortunately the tea brand itself was weak. Consumers love their branded tea so we need to work with the team at T-Sticks to help them leverage their technology or give their brand some oomph."

dairy- and gluten-free frozen desserts

Bessant & drury
Bessant & drury
The pitch
Bessant & Drury's manufactures dairy-free frozen desserts made with coconut milk. The desserts include 50% fewer calories than average dairy ice-cream and offer additional health benefits from the coconut milk, such as the fact that coconut fat is not stored in the body. All of the products in the dairy-free range are also free from additives and preservatives.

The products have been tested extensively in retail and the company is hoping to capitalise on the recently announced news that lactose- and dairy-free products have overtaken the gluten-free sector for the first time for sales this year. Founder Steve Bessant presented.

The Q&A
Adam O'Connor Have you tested it in the market?

Steve Bessant We have sent out more than 20,000 samples this year.

Nick Vadis Is coconut milk more expensive?

SB It is more costly but it is a premium product.

Claire Nutter Why do you call yourself the fine ice-cream company?

SB We manufacture ice-creams, too.

What the judges said
CN Yes for taste, but the health benefits need to be emphasised more.
LJ As a consumer, I think the taste stands up to premium ice-creams but I too think you are selling yourself short on your USP.
AO I think you need to look at the impulse buy and go to market with a different message. So the answer is no - for now - but perhaps we can help you develop the product?

Adam O'Connor comments
"The product is pretty innovative but the branding is all confused; it's healthier than ice-cream and has great ‘free from' credentials but is being marketed as a premium ice-cream which left the panel - and, we think, consumers - a little perplexed. We're going to spend some time helping the team with their brand and messaging so maybe one day it will be on a supermarket shelf or site near you."

Superlizzy Waste Compactor

The pitch
The Superlizzy is an innovative Italian rubbish compactor for fast-food restaurants. The machine works when a customer approaches the machine with a tray carrying waste material - for example, polystyrene, cardboard, and so on. An electronic eye opens the mouth of the machine and the waste is emptied into the system. The opening and closing mechanism is operated by a ratchet system so it is completely safe for operators and customers alike.

There are two "mangle-like" rollers inside the machine that compress the waste and reduce its size. PET (plastic bottle) machines can also be installed where the compacting process works up to 90%.

The main advantages of these units, according to David Watts-Russell of DRP International, are: "Disposal costs reduced by 50%; time saved with fewer frequent need to empty bins, less bins overflowing and the opportunity to customise the bins with your own company's sustainability message."

One machine is capable of compacting 500 trays per hour and one unit testing the system in London has processed 6,000 trays in a week.

The Q&A
Adam O'Connor Is it all separated and then put together again at the end for removal?

David Watts-Russell No, you need to use separate machines, one for general waste and one for PET bottles, depending on the waste requirements in your units. Some units do not have a high volume of PET bottles so just have a normal bin for these and just use one Superlizzy for general waste, which is all compacted together, including food waste.

Claire Nutter What happens to the waste after compaction?

DGR The general waste has to be removed and can be sent off for burning and energy production, thus reducing your carbon footprint. The PET bottles can be recycled.

CN What maintenance do the machines require?

DGR They have to be cleaned once a day, but it's simple, just some cardboard and ice cubes through the machine, with sanitiser once a week.

CN What is stopping you driving sales in this country?

DGR We are a small company and we have to convince people to think about disposing of their waste differently.

What the judges said:
NV For me, I have a need for a bigger kitchen compressor, so it's a no.
CN I can really see the opportunity of these machines but my main concern is the type of waste we have in our units. However, I think we should look at a trial in spite of this.
AO I think it would be remiss of us to not test it, so could we take one on a controlled trial basis?

Adam O'Connor comments
"What a great way to reduce waste! The compacting action of the Superlizzy means that in areas where we use lots of disposable packaging we could reduce our waste to landfill. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough information on the day about the true benefits of this product - it's quite a hefty piece of equipment - but we're looking at sporting venues and busy hospital contracts as places to carry out a trial run."

The Judges
executive chef
â- Claire Nutter head of commercial - health, wellbeing and sustainable sourcing
â- Oliver Cock managing director, commercial
â- Adam O'Connor head of central marketing

How to enter

Ideas from small and medium-sized enterprises can be submitted online at where applicants will have the opportunity to upload supporting material such as video, photography and word documents.

They will then be shortlisted into categories before the suppliers behind the best concepts are called to the boardroom to pitch their proposals.

The suppliers will each have a total of 15 minutes for their presentation; five minutes to pitch the idea followed by a 10-minute Q&A.

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