Consumers want food products that are not only natural, wholesome and nourishing, but that do not cost the Earth. For Kerry, taking all these issues fully into account, from the beginning of the innovation pipeline through to product development, is the only way to go, it says.
“We are focused on creating a world of sustainable nutrition,” explains Ahlinder. “This is our key mission. This means that every day, we partner with customers to create healthier, tastier and more sustainable products, which today are consumed by more than 1 billion people around the world. We also constantly measure ourselves, to see how we are progressing wherever we are on the planet.”
Inspiring food and nourishing life
Kerry has in fact set itself the ambitious target of reaching over 2 billion consumers with sustainable nutrition solutions by 2030. To achieve this, the company aims to develop products - in partnership with its customers - that not only have a minimal impact on the environment, but which are also nutritionally superior and truly authentic in taste.
“This journey we are on is not just about reducing the environmental impact,” says Ahlinder. “We are also very much about delivering nutritional food for all people on the planet. These two objectives - supporting healthier and more nutritious food for the population going forward, as well as minimising our environmental impact - are in tandem in everything we do. At Kerry, we say that our purpose is about inspiring food and nourishing life, and this, really, is what is driving this ambition.”
Closer to the market
Ahlinder also believes that Kerry is well-structured to withstand current economic headwinds. “For us, the most important thing is that we have the best people in place across the region,” he says. “We also have a business structure in place that enables us to understand current market needs, and to partner closely with our customers.”
A year ago, Kerry reorganised itself into sub-regional structures, or business units. These include UK and Ireland; Central Europe and Southern Europe. “This has allowed us to further strengthen our customer intimacy and gain better market knowledge,” says Ahlinder. “We can also move with more speed and agility. These business units are complemented with pan-European activities, but this is all about being close to the market.”
This reorganisation has enabled Kerry to really focus on specific market needs. One key area for example is food waste and preservation. Kerry’s Beyond the Horizon sustainability strategy and commitments include a target to halve its food waste by 2030.
“We know that a lot of food thrown away,” says Ahlinder. “So, we asked ourselves what we can we do with our technology platform to address this. There can be no compromise on taste, but is there a more environmentally-friendly way of preserving products for longer?”
Other key areas of focus include innovations in plant-based ingredients and proactive health. “Consumers want choices,” says Ahlinder. “We think that with the breadth and depth of our portfolio, we can work with a range of customers to provide the solutions they need.”
Fostering effective collaboration
Ahlinder sees Fi Europe as an opportunity to showcase the business after a year of evolution, change and growth. “Our business units will be there, closely connecting with customers,” he says. “We are really looking forward to showing how we can translate our solutions into potential products.”
Solutions from Kerry’s four strategic pillars - food 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. Indeed, for Ahlinder, it is this interaction with customers that make events like Fi Europe so important.
“We want to show people how we can help them to solve some big challenges,” he says. “We can all do as much as we can within our individual companies. But it is through collaboration that we can have a real impact.”
|Thomas Hahlin Ahlinder, president and CEO of Kerry Europe|