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Healthful, nutritious products steer Ingredion’s game plan

Source:Ringier Food

Date Published:1/10/2018 06:01:15 PM

Sugar management, clean labelling top the company’s priorities for the Asian market

INGREDION keeps on its path of innovation to create products that are natural and simple. Affirming its commitment to deliver what consumers want, the global leader in ingredient solutions sees healthful products not just as a mere trend but a foundation for the foods and beverages market.

The company addresses evolving consumer needs with a broadening product portfolio of starches, flours, sweeteners and other specialty ingredients that underscores texture and sensory appeal, cost efficiency and performance. While its ingredient solutions centre on a healthy lifestyle and clean and simple labelling, they are designed to ensure the eating experience remains enjoyable.

Continuously innovating through 2018

Ingredion will continue building on its many years of ground-breaking hard work, boosting its investments, acquisitions and partnerships in recent months and years with more initiatives geared towards addressing market concerns.

Sugar reduction is one area of focus. Another would be hydrocolloids, demonstrated by the company’s recent acquisition of TIC Gums Inc., a leader in advanced texture and stability solutions based on gum and hydrocolloid technologies. Ingredion is looking to leverage on the acquisition to broaden its range of higher-value specialty ingredients with a wide range of texture capabilities for both the food and beverage industries. 

“We’ve also acquired a rice company to grow our rice-based specialty ingredients and service customers around the world,” said Rishan Pillay, vice president and general manager for ASEAN and India.

Ingredion is likewise keen to continue improving its texturising solutions, which it considers to be the backbone of how the company differentiates itself from the competition. According to Lilian Tan, marketing manager, Texture and Delivery Systems, Asia Pacific, despite the spotlight on healthier choices, consumers still seek for products that meet their taste and texture expectations. As such, texture will continue to play a significant role in influencing consumers purchasing decisions.

“What is really important is to stay connected to our customers and see what other things they are looking for. With the new products that we’ve launched and the acquisitions that we’ve made, our range of solutions continues to expand. We work closely with our customers, know what they want, and our wide range of products allows us to deliver customised solutions that best suit their needs.” Ms Tan added.

Mr Pillay said the company has been focusing on bringing the technologies it has developed and mastered into the Asia-Pacific region.

“We will continue to leverage our achievements and learnings from our global business as we expand our footprint in Asia. As we progress through this journey, we’re starting to find more applications as a result of the segments that we’re penetrating,” he added.  

Clean labelling gathering steam

DESPITE the modest rate of adoption, Ingredion expects clean label will continue to gain pace in the years ahead.

Rishan Pillay, vice president and general manager for ASEAN and India. noted the growing interest in Asia and Southeast Asia, although he admits it could take some time. “Economics plays a big role, but with globalisation and the rising awareness among consumers, the pickup in Asia could also be a lot faster than in Europe.”

In addition to investing in and developing products that support this trend, Ingredion believes it is part of the company’s responsibility to educate manufacturers and consumers about what clean label is really about. Furthermore, its Idea Labs® innovation centres take advantage of consumer insights, applied research and applications know-how to incorporate science-based problem solving and innovation in product development and propelling the clean label movement further ahead.

Rishan Pillay, vice president and general manager for Ingredion, ASEAN and India

 “These two markets [Indonesia and Thailand] are developing very quickly. The companies and customers that we find in these countries are constantly looking for differentiation,” says Rishan Pillay, vice president and general manager for Ingredion, ASEAN and India.

Asia, an innovative and informed market

Ingredion has been in the Asia-Pacific region for about 40 years now. Its first plant in Thailand is more than 35 years old. 

Indonesia and Thailand remain two of the key markets for the company in Southeast Asia. “These two markets are developing very quickly. The companies and customers that we find in these countries are constantly looking for differentiation,” said Mr Pillay.

“Ingredion regards Asia as a very innovative market with an informed and sophisticated consumer population that is acutely aware of what ingredients in food should look like. This rising consumer awareness and stricter demands are spurring a lot of innovation among manufacturers,” Mr Pillay said.

In the recent Food Ingredients Asia 2017 trade fair held in Bangkok, Thailand, Ingredion showcased sugar reduction products in line with the rising demand from Asia for healthier products that are in line with their lifestyle.

“For our Asian market, we offer products that are very much in trend with what Asian consumers are looking for. With consumers nowadays becoming more informed, we are emphasising on the nutrition line of ingredients. We have, for example, products that will help them get more fibre so that they stay full longer,” Ms Tan shared.  

The company has a firm emphasis on its texturising solutions, one of its key product categories. “Besides addressing the nutrition part and providing a healthier lifestyle, we want to improve the texture side because texture is an important part of the whole eating experience,” said Ms Tan.  

“The question we ask ourselves is how can we help manufacturers produce healthier products that consumers will still appreciate. That is where the shift has been for the ingredients, and that is where we hope to continue to operate and play as a company, ” says  Lilian Tan, Marketing Manager, Ingredion, Texture and Delivery Systems, Asia Pacific.

Exploring sugar reduction further

Ingredion has developed solutions that can totally remove sugar from beverage and food applications. After removing the sugar, the company replaces it with its sweeteners. What distinguishes these sweetener products from the others is the customisation that Ingredion does to match the requirements of the customer.

Ms Tan explained, “There has to be some customisation done to ensure that the sweetness profiles remain almost the same as the real sugar but with fewer calories, even half or best, zero calories.”

The company’s Sweetis™ line of sweeteners enables manufacturers to create sucrose-like taste profiles with the sugar mouthfeel. Designed to cut the amount of sugar in foods and beverages without compromising on taste and texture, Sweetis™ reduces sugar content in formulations by as much as 50% yet yields good sensory profiles. 

The Sweetis™ DS500 has 120 to 130% sucrose sweetness but fewer calories. It tastes like sugar but does not have the usual aftertaste of most other sweeteners. It is developed by using Ingredion’s proprietary technology and features pH and heat stability, and excellent mouthfeel.

Ingredion acknowledges that one of the problems in reducing sugar, for example, in beverages, is losing the body. This results in the beverage becoming very thin and watery. In other cases, the beverage may have the right sweetness and taste levels but does not feel right in the mouth.

To address this, the company applies texturising solutions to build back the body and mouthfeel, guaranteeing the end product will have the rich and creamy taste consumers will enjoy. Overall, the beverage becomes a more healthful product, yet also tastes well. 

Diverse product solutions for different market needs

However, Ingredion’s products and solutions are not limited to beverages. The company provides solutions for all kinds of food applications and segments worldwide, including Asia where it hopes to continue growing its market.

In the bakery segment, one product Ingredion offers is designed to improve the moistness of cakes. In the Philippines, for example, where packaged cakes are popular, cake products sitting on the shelves may become very dry if they do not contain a lot of chemicals to keep the moisture intact and keep the cake looking fresh. 

“Our starch-based texturisers can help cake products retain their freshness even over a long shelf life such that when a consumer opens a pack, the cake will still be moist and fresh. This capability helps manufacturers manage the amount of chemicals they need to add to their products.” Ms Tan said.

For snacks, which the company regards as a growing segment, Ingredion has just recently launched four additions to its PRECISA™ Crisp line of texturisers for the Asia Pacific snack industry. This line of texturisers can create six different kinds of textures using the same recipe and is suitable for baked potato chip and cracker manufacturers,

Ingredion also carries solutions aimed at the dairy market. Its range of products for yogurt manufacturers can cater to thick, thin, low-fat and other yogurt variants.

For cheeses, another focus area in the company’s dairy business, Ingredion acknowledges there is growing demand for different types of cheeses, particularly for the variety used in pizzas as well as similar food products heavily used in the food service sector in the Asia Pacific.

“Cheese is on the high side of the price spectrum. At Ingredion we help reduce the cost of the cheese but at the same time maintain the melting experience that consumers want in their pizza, for example. We ensure the cheese will have that stretch that consumers expect,” Ms Tan added.

Striking a balance between functionality and the overall taste experience remains at the core of product development for Ingredion. But beyond modifying an ingredient to enable different functionalities, the company realises it is its responsibility as well to help make processing easier and faster to enable food manufacturers to address consumer requirements in the most cost-efficient way possible. Even with the rise of processed foods, there is an emerging trend for food that gives the consumer that home-cooked meal experience.

“So, it really is about appealing to the consumer in many different aspects, whether it is the texture, the way a product feels in the mouth, the way it looks, the nutritional benefits, and so on. The question we ask ourselves is how can we help manufacturers produce healthier products that consumers will still appreciate. That is where the shift has been for the ingredients, and that is where we hope to continue to operate and play as a company,” Ms Tan said. 

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