14/12/2022 – Ingredients / Nutrition / Health / Sustainability / Fi Europe / Kerry
Kerry: The sustainable nutrition specialists
Boasting more than half a century in operation, ingredients giant Kerry has built its global reputation on developing solutions that meet evolving consumer tastes and provide sustainable nutrition for generations to come. Speaking to Food & Beverage Networker from Fi Europe 2022 in Paris, Thomas Hahlin Ahlinder (Kerry’s President and CEO of Taste & Nutrition, Europe), describes an array of dominant consumer trends impacting NPD in the food & beverage segment today – from clean label and targeted health, to cost optimisation, plant-based, and food waste – and reveals how his firm is responding to such dynamics.
An ever-expanding number of consumers are seeking out more targeted health solutions. How is Kerry addressing individual consumer lifestyles and nutritional needs through its portfolio?
“For decades, the public has been looking for proactive, clean, nutritious products made from ingredients that are backed by science to offer health benefits. That demand is only set to continue. Innova’s research this year, for example, found that 61 per cent of global consumers planned to increase investment in their health during the next 12 months. Plus, they want the brands they support to actively help them to meet their health goals.
“Kerry’s ProActive Health portfolio demonstrates our commitment to providing more sustainable nutrition by offering solutions that are designed to be healthy, nutritious and tasty. Our extensive portfolio of branded, science-backed ingredients – comprising a complete range that helps manufacturers to create functional foods, beverages and supplements that answer the call for better and healthier products — includes BC30, Wellmune and Sensorial Ashwagandha.
“Governments across the world are introducing taxes and restrictions on products that are high in fat, sugar and salt, in order to combat health issues that put a huge burden on public resources. Meanwhile, manufacturers have the challenge of creating great tasting products that still meet these guidelines. Kerry supplies a broad range of ingredients to optimise taste in better-for-you products, including our Tastesense™ solutions, which reduce salt and sugar and also improve mouthfeel while masking off-notes.
“As consumer’s daily routines change to become more active and health conscious, their diets also adapt into their daily needs. Kerry’s portfolio of protein offers solutions across food, beverage and meat, plant-based or dairy based that not only bring the right level of nutrition, but also bring the best taste into the finished products.
“Our new NutriGuide tool also helps manufacturers learn more about how they can reformulate to create healthier products and in turn improve front-of-pack labelling.”
At the same time, indulgence remains a key driver for consumers who are nonetheless looking to follow a healthier diet. How is Kerry responding to this desire for better-for-you treats and snacks?
“Indulgence is a common denominator of consumers needs such as seeking a treat, stepping out into the unknown, and premiumisation of familiar favourites. As consumers begin to step out of a pandemic-stricken state of mind, they are embracing a new frame of reference for taste. While their evolving taste needs continue to pay homage to their pre-pandemic preferences, this resilient consumer is looking to indulge in brave new variations of the familiar classics.
“The most significant challenges for snack producers are around reducing salt and fat content, while still maintaining great taste. For example, salt is much more than just a salty perception – when salt is reduced, sourness and bitterness can increase too. Therefore, to overcome the salt reduction challenge, manufacturers need a solution that will bring back the eating experience. Similarly, fat reduction presents another key challenge and is not always possible in savoury snacks, given the effect on functionality and eating experience. In addition, rebalancing sugar content may not be the top concern in savoury snacks – however, when taking a holistic approach to creating nutritionally optimised snacks, even minimally reducing sugar content can help the overall Nutri-Score.
“Finally, another challenge arises when manufacturers fortify their snack products with positive nutrients, such as protein and fibre. Although this is a great way to improve the overall score of the product, fortification can often lead to off-notes, so masking is an important challenge to overcome.
“Kerry supplies a broad range of ingredients to optimise taste in better-for-you products, including our Tastesense™ solutions and proteins – such as our functional Hyfoama and nutritional ProDiem lines. Our family of enzymes also improve shelf life and enhance production, while Acryleast acts to reduce the amount of the carcinogen acrylamide in final baked goods. As mentioned above, our new NutriGuide tool can help manufacturers learn how they can improve front-of-pack labelling in these products.”
As the ever-evolving plant-based segment continues to gain momentum, how is Kerry innovating to capture consumer attention in this area of the market?
“Innovation at Kerry continues to evolve into new plant-based categories that are not currently widely available in stores or restaurants today. This creates new formulation challenges but also opportunities for new ingredient solutions to solve for new taste, texture, performance and nutrition issues with these new products. Ensuring the right mix of ingredients, technologies and techniques is key in formulating the next winning plant-based meat alternative, and it is formulation and technical expertise that can steer the next plant-based solutions to the finish line.
“One particular exciting element of Kerry’s presence at Fi Europe will be the exclusive launch of a new system that delivers authentic taste in plant-based applications, while reducing saturated fat content by up to 60–90 per cent. The solution is based on sustainably sourced natural ingredients, which should appeal to consumers looking for nutritious, clean-label products.”
Environmental concerns are pushing sustainability up the list of priorities for consumers when it comes to their food & beverage choices. How is Kerry able to improve the sustainability positioning of its customers’ products?
“The food and beverage industry uses a lot of planetary resources and is responsible for over 25 per cent of greenhouse gases. At the same time, there are two billion people worldwide who are either overweight or obese. And 700 million that go to bed undernourished. We need all stakeholders to be committed to overcoming hunger and malnutrition. However, this is not only about securing enough food for our global population – we also need healthier, and more sustainable food.
“We are committed to using our insights and expertise to improve sustainability impact of our customers’ products, by partnering with them to reduce carbon emissions, food waste and water usage.
“Today, 30 per cent of food is wasted. If, as a society, we can reverse the trend of food waste, there would be more than enough food to feed the world. Consumers are waking up to these facts, and they simply cannot continue – in fact, 44 per cent are willing to pay extra for food and beverage products that help solve food waste.
“Bakery products are the biggest contributor to food waste globally by volume, and meat products are the biggest contributor to food waste by value. And yet almost 890 million people are going hungry. As many here are aware, if food waste was a country, it would be the third-largest contributor to greenhouse gasses.
“So, when we think about the future for Kerry and the next 50 years, it’s about focusing on the areas where we believe we can have a real impact – we are evolving the organisation towards becoming an impact company.
“Prevention is the most effective method to manage food loss – ensuring that food is produced to a maximum shelf life, will feed more people, and significantly reduce the environmental impact. By extending the shelf life of a basic product we are extending the opportunity for that product to be consumed. Innovative preservation methods are the key to delivering this.
“From our consumer insights and working across categories, we understand the challenges in the marketplace and deliver solutions with high potency and consistency across the value spectrum – from biotechnology, to sensory, and texture. We have the broadest portfolio of preservation solutions – from clean label to conventional preservatives – ensuring all food produced is to a maximum shelf life.
“Meanwhile, leveraging technologies such as enzymes, we transform waste streams and convert into value added products.”
What other key current and emerging consumer trends can you identify?
“Cost optimisation, clean label and sustainable impact are the key trends we are highlighting at Fi Europe, apart from taste and nutrition. Considering the recession and inflation rates we are at currently, both consumers and our customers are looking for more effective solutions that can save on price without compromising on taste or nutrition. In that space, we have solutions that are not only more cost effective, but also bring better nutritional values to the end product.
“Sustainable impact has been a key focus for us for the past 10 years and now more than ever we are able to quantify the impact we bring through our solutions in order to help our customer achieve their goals and be able to communicate it.”
Could you please tell me a little more about Kerry’s participation at Fi Europe this year?
“Solutions from Kerry’s and industries priorities – waste reduction, authentic taste, plant-based and proactive health – will be on display, all underpinned by the overarching objective of helping manufacturers to achieve sustainable nutrition. We are really looking forward to showing how we can translate our solutions into potential products. We have the same objectives as our customers, and those will be represented through not only concept sample display, but also through thought leadership on our stand. ‘Every Innovation Tells a Story’ is our theme at the event, and we want to continue being seen as the innovation partner of choice to the food and beverage industry.”
The Hotel & Hospitality Show 2023
Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa