Is Heinz Kidding?

The Lempert Report
May 30, 2023

On today’s Bullseye – you know the saying there is nothing new? Well it seems like the folks over at Heinz listened to that a little to much. At last week's National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, they introduced the Heinz Remix dispenser a free-standing touchscreen-operated machine which allows customers in restaurants (probably mostly in fast food) to select from a range of “bases” – including Heinz Ketchup, Ranch, 57 Sauce, and BBQ Sauce – then personalize it with one or more “enhancers” – like Jalapeño, Smoky Chipotle, Buffalo, and Mango – and do it at their preferred intensity level (low, medium, high). Heinz says there are over 200 potential sauce combinations. Look it’s a take off of the highly successful Coca-Cola Freestyle self serve dispenser that seems to be everywhere - fast food, restaurants, movie theaters, private clubs - including the ultimate celeb community - Big Horn in Palm Desert California, colleges, hotels, offices, Target, the list goes on. So I can see why Heinz copied the concept.

Alan Kleinerman, Vice President of Disruption for Kraft Heinz said in the announcement, “HEINZ REMIX is a great example of this consumer-first approach to innovation. We’re changing the game for foodservice operators and sauce lovers - dipping will never be the same. With HEINZ REMIX, it’s more than a sauce dispenser; it’s an insights engine and business model enabler that will help Kraft Heinz understand and respond to consumer trends and flavor preferences in real-time. Who knows – maybe our next new sauce combination will come from a superfan using HEINZ REMIX!” Let's forget about all the potential problems with clogging up nozzles, the sauces forming a crust around the nozzle (as I've seen in those ludicrous gallons plastic jars with the pump on top, the mess that forms when a customer moves their fries, or whatever, away form the spout and lets their custom sauce drip, drip drip. Yes, all problems - but ones that can be overcome. What I think is genius about this Remix center is what Kleinerman alluded to - without revealing too much. What I believe, is that these dispensers - which are already run by microprocessors and whatever, probably have a chip that sends the signal back to Heinz or the foodservice operator and reports on what people are making. The flavors, the portion size, the intensity and more. And WOW! That's a dearth of information that could give both operator and Heinz very valuable information. Imagine being able to segment by day part the kids of combinations used for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner. Yes, I expect that we will see new bottles of Heinz sauces on supermarket shelves as he implied - but more important to be able to profile the sauces used by location - and therefore the consumer demographics that go to that location, time of day and quantity. Wow! Oh I said that already.

This is one idea I wish I thought of. I wasn't a fan of the Heinz-Kraft merger - but I may have to change my mind if this company is going to focus its efforts on digital customer solutions like this. Maybe coming up a custom Kraft Mac & Cheese Remix dispenser? Stay tuned.