SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — For Tyson Foods, the creation of Tyson Tastemakers represented an opportunity for disruption, said Mario Valdovino, corporate executive chef and director of culinary innovation research and development at Tyson Foods Inc., Springdale, Arkansas. Inspired by such groundbreaking services as Uber and Airbnb, the platform was designed to deliver an experience, rather than a product, to the consumer.

“Modern consumers have shifted to brands that really deliver experiences instead of products,” Valdovino said during a session at the Research Chefs Association’s 2017 Annual Conference and Culinology Expo, held March 14-17 in San Juan. “Niche players like Airbnb are creating new business models that redefine major categories.”

Mario Valdovino, corporate executive chef and director of culinary innovation research and development at Tyson Foods, Inc. 

Tyson Tastemakers debuted in 2016 as a range of meal kits sold online and delivered to consumers through AmazonFresh. Each package includes a recipe card, pre-seasoned meats, pre-portioned and prepped vegetables and sauces or seasonings. Menus change seasonally and feature a variety of globally inspired dishes such as Cuban roasted pulled pork, Irish stout beef stew and spicy Korean-style steak street tacos.

The platform was built on four key consumer insights, Valdovino said.

Tyson Tastemakers Irish Stout Beef Stew with smashed Yukon Gold potatoes swirled with roasted garlic-herb butter.

“Consumers are really unsure of how to prepare raw meat and poultry at home successfully, he said.” Consumers want to cook great meals but are often time-strapped… Consumers love interesting foods but often settle for routine meals at home because it’s what they know. Finally, and this is really important, shopping for all of the ingredients in a recipe can be a very daunting and expensive effort.”

Over the course of a year, a team within Tyson Foods developed the Tyson Tastemakers brand, laid the groundwork for a new operating model within the company and commercialized the platform in a new, non-traditional channel.

“In less than 12 months, we have successfully launched a start-up business within a multi-billion dollar company,” Valdovino said.

Tyson Tastemakers Spicy Korean-Style Steak Street Tacos with a kimchi slaw and hibachi-style vegetables.

The company plans to scale Tyson Tastemakers in a sustainable and profitable way, he said. The platform will move beyond e-commerce with a regional launch into select brick-and-mortar stores with click-and-collect business models. Eventually, Tyson Tastemakers will be available nationwide with a full retail and e-commerce presence, Valdovino said.

“It’s important for us to recognize the consumer's expectations are shifting,” he said. “The way we engage in our categories tomorrow is going to look very different than it does today.”