Innovation is the heady mix that keeps Ingredion on the growth track
We’re in the age of superfood. Plant-based everything. Adaptogenics. Non-dairy rocky road with zero calories and heavenly texture. Satisfying our rapidly shifting tastes, mounting environmental sustainability concerns, and maintaining sources of supply requires off the charts creativity. It’s a food scientist’s dream.
Five hundred of these inspired dreamers can be found innovating at Ingredion (NYSE:INGR). The trailblazing ingredients solutions company makes sweeteners, starches, nutrition ingredients, and biomaterials that are used in everyday products from food and beverages to paper and pharmaceuticals.
Rooted in over a century’s worth of ingredient formulation that began with corn derivatives and starches, the Chicago-based enterprise has evolved beyond its heritage of developing starch-based food and industrial ingredients to help food and non-food producers get high-quality products to market quickly.
Since 2012, the company has invested in plant-based proteins, transitioned their sweeteners business from a traditional liquid nutritive sweetener business to focus on all natural, high-intensity sweeteners such as stevia. They have also widened their portfolio of texturizers to include different starches, hydrocolloids, and functional ingredients such as fibers and prebiotics.
Ingredion’s customer demands have been shifting and today there’s a tighter focus on innovation. As Greg Aloi, a 35-year veteran of Ingredion and VP of Ingredion’s Customer Co-Creation and Applications organization put it, “Starch remains a very functional, versatile and affordable ingredient for texturizing, however we’ve changed our strategy to be more agile and strategic on innovation to stay ahead of the curve. We invested in plant-based proteins, in natural sweeteners, natural fruit flavors and essences, fibers and prebiotics to improve gut health.” Aloi said. “It’s a strategic choice and a passion of ours.”
This strategic shift has also created new demand from both large and small food companies that seek Ingredion’s expertise with launching new products or expanding their global footprint.
"Ingredion Idea Labs bring the latest science to tackle any customer challenge with expertise and speed. Our scientists have backgrounds in every application and food category from dairy and protein to confectionary, which makes us unique," said food scientist Amanda Hoffman, Program Manager of Ingredion’s groundbreaking startup Catalyst program.
One example of a challenge that Ingredion encountered in recent years is helping customers replace sunflower-based ingredients. Ukraine produces the majority of world’s sunflower oil, which is used for the production of sunflower lecithin, an emulsifier commonly used in salad dressings, high fat beverages, and ice creams as well as meat and dairy alternatives. The war in Ukraine essentially dried up the global supply of this key component overnight, but Ingredion was ready.
"We collaborated closely with our customers to identify alternatives for each of their products," Aloi emphasized. "Our dedicated approach ensured that our solutions not only maintained a consistent supply but also exceeded their previous standards. We have the best sensory capabilities in the industry and are able assess taste and texture, both empirically and through robust consumer taste trials. Our expertise and agility helped our customers navigate ambiguity and keep their products on shelves.”
In an industry riding on speed to market, technology is critical. Ingredion is starting to leverage AI and machine learning to develop databases and in support of customer solutions. “We know from AI predictive modeling by our applications team that we can create category specific formulations,” said Aloi. “If we’re starting a journey in a 10-step stairwell, predictive formulations modeling will enable us to start on the fifth step instead of the first step. We are also looking to deploy AI in other avenues of the company and have several projects that will shape the way in which we interface with customers and consumers in the future.”
At Ingredion, innovation is everybody's job. “Not just R&D, but the overall organization,” Aloi concluded. “"Our people contribute significantly to new product innovation, and as a result, we are perceived as an industry leader. Our people underpin our vision to be the preferred innovation partner for our customers by creating healthier ingredients, tastier food, and a more sustainable future.”
Ingredion Incorporated (NYSE: INGR) headquartered in the suburbs of Chicago, is a leading global ingredient solutions provider serving customers in more than 120 countries. With 2022 annual net sales of nearly $8 billion, we turn grains, fruits, vegetables and other plant-based materials into value-added ingredient solutions for the food, beverage, animal nutrition, brewing and industrial markets. With Ingredion Idea Labs® innovation centers located worldwide and approximately 12,000 employees, we co-create with customers and fulfill our purpose of bringing the potential of people, nature and technology together to make life better.
5 Westbrook Corporate Center
Westchester, IL 60154
Phone Number: 800.713.0208
Homepage Link: https://www.ingredion.com/