The opening of the 1,200-square-metre Co-Lab: Customer Innovation Lab follows an initial investment of €2.5 million.
The R&D space comprises of a kitchen and show cooking area; an industrial kitchen and training room for Continente Kitchen employees; a biochemical lab; a sensory lab with 12 tasting booths; a focus group room; an observation room; a drinks area; a home cleaning room; a beauty room; and a design room.
In the Co-Lab, Continente's teams will develop private label products as part of a collaborative process with partners, suppliers and consumers.
In the sensory lab, in addition to product tasting, the group is integrating new technologies including a Face Reader, a piece of equipment that analyses the physical reactions (facial expressions) of testers when trying or observing products; and a Face Reader Eye Tracker, which, through infrared glasses placed on the consumer, collects information about which parts of the product/packaging customers pay more attention to.
According to Tânia Lucas, commercial director of MC's private brand, all private label brands will be analysed in the Co-Lab in person or, in specific cases, at the consumer's home, in coordination with the team.
In 2022, Portugal registered 2.9% growth in private-label sales compared to the previous year.
In 2022, Continente's own-brand products represented about €925 million worth of sales in the food segment, registering growth of more than 20% in the last year (+€175 million), and growth of almost 50% in the last three years.
The Continente brand currently includes more than 4,000 SKUs, across the Continente range, Continente Equilíbrio, Continente ECO, Continente do Bebé, Continente Seleção and Continente Bio.