Constantin Drapatz, Senior Marketing Manager, Clean and Simple Food Ingredients, EMEA, explains how delivering a value-added service has been a critical factor in maintaining a competitive edge.
Talk me through your career as it relates to clean label ingredients – what attracted you to this market?
“I’ve always been passionate about food and nutrition and having acquired a BSc in Nutrition from the University of Applied Sciences (Germany), sought to embark on a career in the food industry.”
“I joined Ingredion in 2010 as an application specialist in dairy. There was a natural fit with Ingredion as the company shared similar values and a passion for delivering the best eating experiences. Having recently relocated from South Africa to Germany, I now lead Ingredio´s Clean & Simple food ingredients portfolio across Europe.”
“It was during my time in South Africa - working on new product and reformulation projects across all applications and segments - that I established a desire to concentrate on the clean and simple portfolio. I now work with a dedicated clean label team to translate emerging consumer trends and manufacturer needs into actual ingredient solutions that are preferred by the consumer.”
“I am delighted to be speaking at this year’s Fi conference to share the wealth of knowledge and expertise Ingredion has built over the last 25 years in the sector, and meet with industry peers and customers to drive the trend forward.”
Tell us about Ingredion – what differentiates Ingredion in the market?
“Since Ingredion experts helped identify the clean label movement in its infancy over 20 years ago, we have launched a significant number of clean label starches and flours across a broad range of applications including dairy, bakery, beverages, savoury and meat. These ingredient solutions have been purposefully designed to support manufacturers on their journey to clean label, taking into consideration production, storage and cost efficiencies.”
“Along with supplying innovative clean label starches and flours, Ingredion is recognised as a leader in the field of clean label insights and formulation expertise. Our aim is to add value for manufacturers by regularly publishing independent research, reports and meaningful data on the enduring clean label movement.”
“Ingredion’s Proprietary Consumer Research – ATLAS - has tracked the opinions of over 30,000 respondents globally since January 2011. The online study looks at consumers’ attitudes towards foods and beverages including preferred label claims, key purchase drivers and awareness and acceptance of various ingredients. These insights are helping to guide manufacturers on the most and least attractive ingredient options, covering 36 countries and 14 applications.”
“It is this approach to science-based, trend-driven innovation that enables us to support manufacturers in identifying market signals and changes. This coupled with Ingredion’s application and CULINOLOGY® capabilities, and broad portfolio of ingredient solutions, help our customers clean up existing formulations and develop new, consumer-winning recipes.”
What are the challenges facing manufacturers interested in tapping into the clean label market?
“Clean label is a growing opportunity and one that will be worth over $50 billion globally by 2024. With an enduring appeal, clean label is becoming increasingly mainstream and it is unlikely to lose momentum in the coming years. As consumer needs evolve and new trends emerge, food manufacturers face the constant challenge of adapting alongside them to satisfy an ever-diverse range of diets, trends and lifestyle choices. Whether they are driven by an interest in health, a desire to follow a specific diet, sustainability or production methods, consumers are demanding greater transparency from the industry because they want to understand what goes into the foods they eat.”
“Amid the pressure to get to market quickly, while remaining commercially viable, maintaining taste and texture has been listed as one of the top five challenges faced by manufacturers when it comes to new product development. A successful clean label product must look and taste great and should be formulated with minimal ingredients that are all recognisable. Achieving this is a fine balancing act, however; if ingredients such as sugar or fat are removed for example, this must not compromise the product’s texture or visual appeal.”
“This is especially the case for more indulgent and delicate foods that are light in colour and have subtle flavours that need protecting, such as cream fillings, vanilla desserts or dressings. New functional native starches and multi-functional flours are opening up clean label opportunities by offering the same range of functionality, such as process tolerance and texture stability, as modified variations. For instance, the neutral profile of ingredients such as NOVATION® Lumina functional native starches can build luxurious textures and allow flavours and colours to be delivered with increased intensity. Giving manufacturers the same functionality as modified starches, these functional native starches can be used at high dosages in very taste-sensitive applications as they do not mask the original flavour. This is just one of the clean label innovations we will be demonstrating to visitors at this year’s show in our creamy yoghurt and fruit pot.”
Give me some more details of the services you provide for F&B businesses – and why should they stop by your stand at Fi Europe?
“We are focused on helping manufacturers understand consumer trends and how to connect them to product innovation. Which is why at this year’s event, we will be unveiling the exclusive market insights into one of the industry’s mega trends – clean label. The new report looks at how the clean label trend has evolved and reflects on what this now means for manufacturers, and the steps the industry should be taking to reflect consumers new found expectations.”
“I will also take to the stage at the Fi Europe Conference Discovery Theatre (booth 7A25) on Tuesday 4th December (11-11:30am) to present findings from Ingredion’s seventh Global Proprietary Consumer Research. The talk, ‘What influences consumers to buy into the clean label megatrend?’ will address the trends and influencing factors that prevent or enable a switch to clean label and also make consumers switch brands.”
“We’ll also be showing how to connect trends to innovation in seven delicious recipe prototypes. Designed specifically for the event, these unique recipes show food and beverage manufacturers how they can convert influential consumer trends into indulgent eating experiences that deliver business opportunities.”
Where do you see key opportunities blossoming – in which sectors?
“New and emerging ingredient functionality is now enabling manufacturers to expand clean label into more applications. This includes dairy desserts, yoghurts, baked goods and savoury white sauces that undergo challenging processing conditions. Across current and new applications, clean label ingredients continue to have the highest acceptance, reinforcing the strength of the trend. And – as lifestyles and tastes change – we expect an accelerated adoption in other regions, such as Africa and South America over the coming years, where ‘clean label’ is becoming more of a consumer trend. This will be coupled with an increasing emphasis on clean label in applications that traditionally require ingredients that are not perceived as clean label, such as the bakery sector.”
“Ingredion’s ATLAS Proprietary Consumer Research revealed that in Europe, baby foods, meat, dairy and cereals are the top applications for clean label, whilst it is also important to track emerging ingredients such as oat flour, birch extract, chickpea broth, flax seed protein and carrot fibre which can be used in a variety of applications.”
What strategies could manufacturers take to connect to these opportunities?
“It’s a really exciting time to be part of the food and drink industry. Digital transformation, advances in technology and a shift at large FMCGs shows a lot of willingness to change and embrace the evolving clean label trend. The best way for manufacturers to communicate their products’ clean label credentials is by clearly stating the ingredients they contain on-pack, online or through other channels their target consumers use. In Ingredion’s Food that Just Clicks Report, 59% of respondents across European, Middle Eastern and African countries said that they already use technology to substantiate a product’s claims while nearly one in five frequently change their mind about a product once they have checked it out online.”
“As access to and use of technology only gets easier, the emphasis must be for food and drink manufacturers to use short, simple and recognisable ingredients that stand up to online research. Food and beverage manufacturers that respond to consumer demand for transparency will be the ones to earn their trust, especially with the growing influence of millennials and the Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration.”
How has consumer demand / taste evolved over recent years (when it comes to clean label ingredients)?
“Food labels are more important than ever to today’s health-conscious and ingredient-savvy shoppers, but now the emphasis has shifted from what has been removed, to what is being added to products. Consumers find it increasingly important to recognise the ingredients used in their food and drinks. This shift in attitude may seem subtle, but it is important and is something that manufacturers need to consider.”
“Insights from Ingredion’s seventh wave of global clean label consumer research around food and beverages revealed that ingredients lists (76%) and ‘no additives’ (71%) were the top two drivers of purchase. Alongside this, ‘country of origin’ is becoming more important as interest in production methods and source of food continues to rise.”
“Consumers are demanding greater transparency from the food industry because they want to understand what goes into food and how it is made. Their motivations for doing this vary from concerns over ingredient origin and the use of additives, to environmental impact and production methods. They want short, simple ingredients lists that are associated with nutritional benefits.”
“Alongside increasing demand for clean label products, consumers are changing the types of food they want, and how and when they choose to eat them. Examples include snacks and desserts, which were traditionally seen as outside clean label application. This is broadening the demand for clean and simple labels across a wider range of applications and production processes than ever before. A key factor in achieving this is continuous innovation in the performance and functionality of specialty clean label ingredients.”
What are the key messages you hope potential clients will take away from your presentations and indeed presence at Fi Europe?
“The savvy shopper is on the hunt for on-trend food and beverage products that are delicious, healthy and convenient. As consumer needs evolve and new trends emerge, food manufacturers face the constant challenge of adapting alongside them to satisfy an ever-diverse range of diets and lifestyle choices, while maximising efficiencies and speed to market.”
“Clean label in particular has an enduring appeal and is now front-of-mind for today’s modern consumers. We’ll be using experience, which spans over 20 years, and research to uncover the insights helping the industry to meet, and even anticipate, consumer demand in our presentation.”
“With a rising number of consumers demanding more ‘natural’ and fewer processed products on the supermarket shelves, this represents a growing opportunity for manufacturers to meet consumer trends whilst bringing business benefit. Our technical experts look forward to meeting with delegates to discuss what they can do to build consumer confidence and trust, while adapting their products to reflect an evolving and ever-diverse range of diets, trends and lifestyle choices.”