The role of Robertet at this year’s Fi Europe is all about taking customers and other key partners on a journey – back to the group’s natural roots. In fact, the key slogan it wants to convey to visitors is ‘Natural Pure Player One’, a tribute to its natural origins.
With experience stretching back 200 years, Robertet Group sources no fewer than 1,355 natural products from 60 different countries. It boasts 14 creative centres around the world and has customers in 50 countries.
The French-based business, with four divisions dedicated to raw materials, flavour, fragrances, and health & beauty, will be on hand at the trade show with not one but two stands presenting its expertise in the areas of flavour and functional ingredients, as managing director of Robertet’s flavour division Antoine Kastler explains to Fi Global.
Two Fi Europe stands to showcase mind and body
The larger of Robertet’s two stands (located at 4.1B100) at Fi Europe charts the voyage ‘From Seed to Emotion’ for a range of ingredients and flavour applications, guided by creative processes such as Fix’motion.
“We’re inviting visitors to get ‘up close and personal’ with this process of transformation,” says Kastler. “It’s about integrating that goal of the final emotion in the consumer, managing progress towards it, and creating a successful product.”
The holistic process takes in not just flavour but also key elements like mouthfeel when it comes to ingredients to reduce the sugar content, says Robertet. As well as its customisable design tools, the group will demonstrate programmes, aided by artificial intelligence (AI) and neuroscience that allow customers to verify that their emotional goal has in fact been achieved.
The journey showcased on Robertet’s smaller stand (stand 3.0A221) will be ‘From Seed to Care’, with a focus on its Positiv’Food platform that combines active ingredients with functional benefits and natural flavours.
“Up to now, applications of these ingredients, in areas such as boosting mood, have been largely confined to food supplements,” says Kastler. “But today, functional food and drink is one of the industry’s strongest trends. Of course, there are sometimes regulatory issues to address, but there’s also very high demand out there.”
Robertet will also showcase a product at the Fi Europe New Product Zone that has been made with ingredients developed through the Positiv’Food process: a sports nutrition shake with natural functionality, based on whey powder.
Villa Blu: Accelerating startups for an ‘ecosystem of innovation’
Earlier this year, Robertet established its Villa Blu startup accelerator. As the company explains, the aim is to build an “ecosystem of innovation”, adding to the many internal routes to creativity that already exist.
“Villa Blu is an accelerator rather than an incubator, so we are currently supporting 10 startups offering natural ingredients or natural products, which are already on the market. The aim is to help each of them to develop for up to two years,” Kastler says. “Of course, these businesses are also a place where we can find inspiration for our own ideas.”
The current startups benefitting from the Villa Blu journey include manufacturers of products as varied as cosmetics, pet care, beverages, and vertical farming of crops. “It could be upstream or downstream: anything that’s not our core activity,” he says.
Sustainable sourcing for natural heritage ingredients
Kastler stresses that social and environmental sustainability are as important as ever.
“The economic crisis and price inflation don’t mean that these concerns vanish overnight. The EU’s New Green Deal is on its way, too, so we are also investing for that.”
Visitors to the Fi Europe New Product Zone will be able to see a second featured Robertet product that showcases its commitment to sustainable, natural ingredients. A vanilla infusion, the product is the first to have accreditation under the Fair for Life scheme, which is as much about promoting biodiversity as it is about fairly traded products.
“Our sourcing systems in Madagascar ensure not only that the vanilla bean and extract are of the best organic quality, but that our farmers are cared for,” Kastler explains. “This is about storytelling, it’s true, but it’s also about validating and proving what you’re doing on the ground.”