Cover for Dr Praeger's interview about innovation

How Dr. Praeger’s Takes Data-Driven Risks to Innovate and Grow

Dr. Praeger’s Veggie-Forward Innovation Continues with SPINS Data

Dr. Praeger’s began in 1994 when two heart surgeons and best friends, including the namesake Dr. Praeger, wanted to create nutritious food that worked with recovering patients' diet restrictions. Initially starting out with just a veggie burger, the two friends “wanted to create something that was healthy and delicious frozen food everyone could eat and was very veggie-forward.” ‘

So that’s exactly what they did.

As the business innovated in the frozen food space and grew, it also expanded its product line. Today, Dr. Praeger’s utilizes data to continue innovating and meeting demand based on the consumer trends they are seeing. Larry Praeger, the company’s current CEO and Dr. Praeger’s son sat down with SPINS to discuss innovation, the impact of COVID-19, and advice for emerging brands on their growth journey.

Prioritizing Employee Safety and Health

“As a company, our biggest challenge is really meeting the increased demand and prioritizing the health and safety of our employees,” says Praeger. With the pandemic throwing a few curveballs into the mix, Dr. Praeger’s had to quickly adapt to the changes and get back on track without jeopardizing the number #1 priority: the safest possible working environment for the team. The company implemented proper social distancing and cleaning guidelines in their facilities so that no one’s health was at risk and they could operate knowing they had a foundation of safety.

Using Data to Adapt & Prioritize Products that Meet the Demand

Praeger and his team have long relied on data to grow their business and build relationships with retailers. Throughout the company’s history, data has allowed Dr. Praeger’s team to create a growth strategy by forecasting and monitoring consumer trends.

That reliance only became stronger in the wake of COVID.

“A lot of the retailers have been really transparent to make sure we know what’s missing,” Praeger says. “The data has really been helpful—the data they’re seeing and the data we’re seeing to just help prioritize the retailer’s initiatives and make sure we’re getting the right items to them. Which ultimately rolls back into production and making sure we’re actually producing the items that are most in-demand.”

“The data has really been helpful—the data they’re seeing and the data we’re seeing to just help prioritize the retailer’s initiatives and make sure we’re getting the right items to them."

Innovation and Growth Comes Best from Taking Risks and Failure

Dr. Praeger’s continues to innovate to provide sustainable and healthy, delicious food consumers have come to expect from them for the last 26 years. Learning to adapt to the shifting consumer habits, taking risks, and bouncing back from failure are key factors to grow as a brand.

“Making sure you understand why things failed ties back into SPINS data which can show you where things went wrong,” Praeger explains.

Using that data, the team can analyze why certain product launches or strategies did not resonate as well as they’d hoped, which makes it easier to avoid repeating mistakes and enabling them to shift gears. According to Praeger, this information and learning are key for any emerging brand to make its mark in the industry and grow in the long run.

“Making sure you understand why things failed ties back into SPINS data which can show you where things went wrong.”

Through learned experiences from failure and motivation to continue innovating, Dr. Prager’s was able to go from creating a simple, nutritious veggie burger to introducing a full line of new plant protein giving consumers that familiar taste of meat while still staying true to their brand.

With all these convenient, differentiated food offerings, Dr. Praeger’s holds a big space in the plant-based industry with data at the base of their business strategy to keep up with the trends.

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