Organisation - November 6, 2013

Yoghurt on tap thanks to LEI

Roelof Kleis

LEI helps farmers update their businesses.
Presentation on approach during Dutch Design Week.

There’s something new coming to the world of desserts: a yoghurt bar. Yoghurt on tap in the supermarket. The idea was developed with the help of the Agricultural Economics Institute LEI during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. The LEI made use of the Eindhoven design platform last week to showcase its ‘business innovation approach’.
The Natuurhoeve is a Utrecht dairy company made up of 10 farmers who specialize in farmhouse yoghurts. The group has its own line: see-through tubs of farmhouse yoghurt with fresh fruit at the bottom. But there are so many people doing that. Dairy producers copy each other for a pastime, explains farmer Mariska Lekkerkerker. ‘So how can I make sure I stand out? What is the added value of my product?’

Many agricultural businesses face similar questions. In business things are changing all the time because the market, the rules and the consumers change. The crucial thing is sustainability. The LEI wants to help these businesses, explains Jos Verstegen. ‘We help entrepreneurs to think through new business models. How to develop opportunities to go about things in a new way.’

The real innovations in the agricultural sector often come from outside
Jos Verstegen

To this end the LEI has developed the ‘business innovation approach’, a framework for structured reflection on the kind of company you want to be and the chain in which you want to operate. Almost every day, Verstegen and his colleagues get together with farmers who want to innovate. A gathering of entrepreneurs, with designers coming on the scene for the first time in Eindhoven. An obvious combination, in Verstegen’s view. ‘The real innovations in the agricultural sector often come from outside. Outsiders have a completely different perspective on things. That’s why we linked up with the Dutch Design Week.’ As part of Agri meet Design, entrepreneurs, policymakers, designers and students at the CAH ‘green’ college in Dronten bent their heads over three case studies. One of them was the Natuurhoeve.

Dairy farmer Lekkerkerker is pleased with the outcome. ‘The yoghurt bar fits in with what I really want: to go back to the old days with refillable packaging.

Our yog­hurt bar in the super­markets.’