How Queensland food manufacturer Trisco is diversifying after 140 years in business

Trisco

Food manufacturer Trisco is in the process of pivoting into the aged care market as it attempts to drive innovation in the 140-year-old company.

The Queensland-based company is known for its drink products, including syrups and sauces, and its range of bakery fillings and flavourings.

It has now developed and produced a new method of food thickener to aid elderly people suffering from dysphagia.

The product, called Precise Thick-N Instant, is a liquid-based thickener that Trisco claims solves many of the problems associated with traditional powder thickeners.

Trisco chief executive Mike Tristram is a descendant of the original Tristrams who began the company in 1875.

He told SmartCompany that although Trisco is based and originated from Australia, the company is now global, with 35% of sales coming from Asia.

Seeing an increase in global imports across the food sector, Tristram decided it was time to push into a new market.

“We’re an Australian manufacturer and we’d like to see manufacturing remain in Australia,” Tristram said.

“We found it getting harder and harder to compete, so we diversified into another market.

“You have to innovate to remain competitive.”

Tristram says Trisco undertook a structured approach to the development of Thick-N Instant, saying research and development is essential to the company’s future.

“We realised we were saturated in the markets we operate in, and we definitely didn’t want to compete with the big players in retail,” Tristram says.

“We formally investigated different markets, did research on four different products and eventually decided on this one.”

After the product’s release in 2014, Tristram said the company has experienced “incredible growth.”

Many aged care faculties and hospitals across the country have begun to use Trisco’s product, discarding traditional ‘ready to drink’ products.

Tristram says his product also enables more social inclusion in aged care, as it “’helps people get a good cuppa.”

“I know that when I’m eighty, I don’t want to be drinking tea out of a plastic cup,” Tristram said.

“I’ll want my favourite tea and my favourite mug, not something out of a sachet.”

Thick-N Instant can be added to any tea or coffee, allowing elderly to not be restrained by pre-mixed solutions.

Tristram says his company is continuing its product development and currently has some new products in the lab.

He believes companies need to reinvent themselves continually to stay relevant in some sectors.

“You’ve got to reinvent yourself in both product and process technology,” Tristram says.

“We moved to a continuous improvement system in 2012, and it’s been very helpful.”

“There’s a lot of natural progressions you need to go through to keep your company sustainable”

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