Innovate to win

As the International R&D Director at Papa Johns, I am privileged to witness firsthand the impact innovation has on the QSR category

Innovate to win

At Papa Johns, innovation isn’t just about creating new recipes; it’s about crafting unforgettable experiences that captivate taste buds and inspire hearts. We operate almost 6,000 restaurants in over 55 international markets and as a Global team, ‘Innovate to win’ is one of our core values we live by every day. 

Papa Johns has remained committed to pushing the boundaries of flavour and creativity by investing in research and resources into developing new offerings that excite our customers. We understand that innovation isn’t a one-time endeavour, but a continuous journey and we’re dedicated to ensuring that our menu reflects the diverse tastes of our global audience. In fact, we recently won the Midas 2024 QSR of the Year Award, which recognised outstanding achievements in the foodservice industry, honouring creativity, innovation, and exceptional menu development. 

But where does our inspiration come from? It’s simple: from the world around us. We draw inspiration from a myriad of sources, from global culinary trends to cultural relevance. Whether it’s creating a heart-shaped pizza for Valentine’s Day or expanding our plant-based range, we take pride in every item on the menu. 

I understand that exploring different cuisines can spark creativity and inspire new flavour combinations, which is why I encourage my team to venture out and immerse themselves in everything the UK has to offer; by embarking on food safaris. A food safari isn’t just about indulging in delicious meals; it’s about experiencing the culture, history, and traditions that make each culinary destination unique. From fine dining to street food vans, we look for it all. And when we see people queuing for an hour in the rain to try something new, we know it’s time to take notice!

Our latest innovation to market, the Indian-inspired Tandoori Range, reflects our commitment to offering exciting and diverse options to our customers. We have worked with top Indian chefs and experimented with lesser-known combinations of spices to create authentic recipes that work on pizza. After 12 months of research, planning, and development, we have launched two new pizzas; Tandoori Spice Pizza and Bombay Spice Pizza (v), along with three new sides; Tandoori Chicken Wings, Tandoori Potato Tots and Tandoori Chicken Poppers. This will be a limited time offer until June 17th, which is how much of our innovation works. We add new (or old) items for a limited time to pique interest and foster a culture of innovation internally. And who knows, when something is that popular, it just might stay around a little longer! 

We also harness the power of culture to fuel innovation. A recent example of this is our Hot Cross Bun Papa Bites. Within just four weeks, we conceived, developed, and launched this seasonal offering, capitalising on the Easter tradition of hot cross buns. This reactive agility demonstrates our commitment to staying ahead of the curve, and by leveraging cultural moments, we not only innovate but also forge deeper connections with our customers.

Innovation isn’t just about staying ahead of the competition; it’s about staying true to our core values and continually striving to exceed the expectations of our customers – one slice at a time.

Adam Wilcock
Adam Wilcock