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Clean Label Ideas for Bakers

At the IBIE conference last October, I was privileged to be part of an expert panel discussion on “Clean Label – Consumer Expectations and Baking Challenges.”  Along with Abigail Ceule from Corbion and Matthew Patrick from Delavau Foods, we discussed the latest clean-label trends in communications, applications, and formulation and cutting-edge consumer research from Corbion.  You can learn more about the information shared during the panel discussion here.

Afterwards, I was contacted by Monica Ginsburg and the great team from Imagination Publishing in Chicago to talk more about clean-label trends in Bakery and how retail bakers can take advantage of these trends with their regular customers.  We talked indepth about what consumers are looking for when they shop for fresh and processed baked goods and how retail bakers can use these insights to help build customer loyalty and sales of “on-trend” products.

Monica and the Imagination team turned our conversation into a great piece on how bakers can successfully use these clean-label trends. Their article on appealing to health resolutions in bakery is now featured on the Dawn Foods website here.

There are some great “tips and tricks” included, so we wanted to share the entire article with the readers of our blog:

 

Capitalize on Health-Minded Resolutions
By: Monica Ginsburg

Ringing in the New Year can also mean focusing on new opportunities for your bakery. Instead of ceding ground to annual resolutions to “lose weight” or “eat healthy,” it’s time to cash in on a growing demographic: consumers who view their meals, snacks and treats holistically—focusing on living healthier and well-balanced lives overall, rather than dieting.

Once carb-cutters and sugar avoiders, today’s shoppers are more educated about what health really means: balance. In fact, going into 2016, the most popular resolutions among consumers were “enjoy life to the fullest” and “live a healthier lifestyle,” according to research by GOBankingRates.

These consumers are seeking out foods made with natural, recognizable ingredients and local produce, as well as labels that reflect high amounts of protein, fiber and good fats. That’s not to say they’re avoiding all indulgence. In fact, a major part of maintaining a balanced lifestyle overall is recognizing opportunities for treats and portioning in a guilt-free way. And that shift in consumers’ perception of health is influencing their purchasing behaviors.

“Consumers are looking for ‘better food’ but what that means is different for everyone,” says Ed Doyle, president of RealFood Consulting in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Generally they’re looking to upgrade to wholesome, quality ingredients, and they want to understand what’s in the foods they buy.”

Here are six tips for attracting balance-minded consumers in the New Year.

Be Smart About Labels

After the holidays, consumers are inclined to scour ingredient lists and health claims. According to Innova Market Insights, roughly three-quarters of U.S. consumers “strongly agree” it’s important for food labels to contain mostly recognizable ingredients. In addition, 91 percent view foods with recognizable ingredients as healthier.

However, consumers weigh labels differently depending on the items they’re purchasing. Claims such as “all natural,” “preservative-free” and “no artificial ingredients” draw customers to all bakery products.

Maximize Signage

Similarly to certain health claims, words like organic, authentic, artisan, local, natural, whole grain, ancient grain and wholesome resonate with health-minded consumers, says Mark Hughes, president of Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing in Omaha, Nebraska. But cramming all those words on one label diminishes the impact each of them could have on a shopper’s buying decision.

Signs and menu boards are the perfect places to highlight natural products or locally sourced ingredients. Group baked goods by features, and use descriptive language like crunchy, hearty, nutty, flaky, rich and sweet to increase appeal.

Step Up the Grains

Touted for their health properties and taste, whole grains are growing in popularity—and fast. For nearly two-thirds of Americans, at least half of their grain consumption comes from whole grains.

“These products represent a small volume of the total bakery business, but it’s where significant growth is happening,” says Hughes.

Everyday staples like bread, muffins and bagels are key areas of opportunity for experimenting with whole grain offerings. Adding “new” grains including sorghum, millet, amaranth and spelt, along with multigrain loaf combinations like wheat berry, oats, rye and millet to existing formulas, can boost flavor profiles and natural appeal.

In addition, bakeries can experiment with grains in pastries, such as fruit pies and crumbles made with whole wheat or quinoa crusts and toppings. They can also swap portions of white flour for whole wheat flour in croissants, scones and danishes.

Support Portion Control

After a season of festive meals, many consumers want to minimize their intake of sweets. That doesn’t mean they’re avoiding indulgence entirely. Mini portions of cookies and brownies and single slices of cake can provide consumers a guilt-free treat that balances out a healthy diet and contributes to their overall well-being.

Consider packaging and marketing these smaller portions of sweets as accessible everyday luxuries that deliver on flavor and quality.

Display Like a Gourmet Shop

Whether a shopper has a taste for nutrient-rich bread or a sweet pick-me-up, presentation will influence his or her perception of product quality. In fact, 93 percent of consumers say visual appearance is the most important factor influencing their purchases.

In addition to clear packaging, consider using brown paper labels that evoke authentic or artisanal foods. Island displays or wooden bins and wicker baskets in place of traditional steel and plastic shelves add a special touch, while display cases decorated with colorful paper or flowers can improve the appearance of cakes. Look to specialty bakeries, restaurants and gourmet shops for inspiration.

Help Staff Spread the Word

Train bakery team members to speak knowledgably about product offerings, whether they’re explaining the difference in taste and texture of certain grains or helping a customer choose between two types of chocolate cake. Make sure staffers have sampled new products so they can effectively convey flavor and freshness to customers. “It’s a real opportunity to talk to and listen to customers,” says Hughes. “You can see what consumers respond to and that can help drive product mix.”

What other clean label ideas have you seen working in your Bakery?  Feel free to share them with us in the comments section that follows.

The 2017 Top Food Trends Roundup Report

The new year is here and with it comes another new season of food trend forecasts and analysis. Food manufacturers and food service operators want to know what their consumers are looking for in new food items and new flavors. Food ingredient marketers want to support their manufacturing and food service customers with consumer insights and with an array of new ingredient products and flavor solutions that can help keep them all on trend.

Every year it seems like there are more and more food trend forecast reports flooding the marketplace.  Each market research firm in the space has its report on the latest and greatest trends. Every trade magazine and industry website screams out headlines on the “Top Trends” and “Best Insights,” while every flavor company, ingredient marketer and food service supplier seems ready to put its own spin on the latest trends.

The team of food marketing analysts at Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing is here to help you find your way through all of that clutter and make sense of the new trends that are the most important to you and your customers. For several years now, we have been publishing a series of reports that “round up” the best trend forecasts, providing summaries of key trends and links that take you directly to the leading forecast reports. This year, our team has prepared three different Roundup Reports covering key trends for Consumers, Foodservice and Flavors.

In her report, 2017 Consumer Food Trends Roundup, food marketing analyst Elizabeth Murphy takes a close look at the Innova Market Insights’ report on how ‘Clean Supreme’ Leads Top Trends for 2017.  Indeed, clean label continues to be the leading food industry trend again this year.  The consumer trends round up continues with the MarketWatch article on The Next Hot Trends in Food.  The roundup also includes Mintel’s latest report on Food & Drink Trends 2017 that explores the growing importance of convenience for time-starved consumers.

Liz Bloyd reports in this year’s Foodservice Trends Roundup that 2017 will continue to focus on the customer experience and on how their food gets to their plate. She links to the annual forecast report from The NPD Group that focuses on key trends to watch in 2017, including food delivery services, sourcing from local suppliers, more healthy choices and new twists to classic dishes. The latest report from Baum + Whiteman details many of those new twists including center-of-the-plate attention to vegetables, creative new breakfast options and the proliferation of new ice cream formats.

This year’s Flavor Trends Roundup, from Deb Murray, explores how the flavor industry continues to search for innovative ways to answer consumers’ increasing demands for more exciting, natural flavors and exotic flavor combinations.  Links to reports from both the National Restaurant Association and Comax Flavors show how the search is on around the world to find new flavors and flavor combinations to match up with consumers’ adventurous taste buds. The granddaddy of all flavor reports, The McCormick Flavor Forecast also predicts how global flavors will make many different, unexpected appearances in both food service menus and new food products.

Overall, our Roundup Reports forecast an exciting year for the food industry. Many of the trends we’ve examined are focused on new ingredients in classical applications or on familiar ingredients in new applications.  Either way it should be a very tasty new year!

Hi Europe Offers Ingredient Experts and Insights

The biennial Health Ingredients Europe and Natural Ingredients Conference (HiE), produced by the Fi Global team from UBM, will be held in Frankfurt, Germany, from Nov. 29 through Dec. 1, 2016. One of the largest health and nutrition conferences and trade shows in the world, HiE provides a complete overview of the nutrition and wellness industries. International leaders in nutritional food and beverage innovation meet to network with each other and to share their latest healthy ingredient solutions.

As a key part of the event, the Hi Europe Modular Conference will address the biggest challenges and hottest trends in the food industry with over 18 highly focused module presentations from leading industry experts. I am very excited about this year’s conference, where I will be speaking on cutting-edge trends for the industry. Take a look at this short video interview for more information:

My presentation on “Mapping the Diverse Consumer Landscape and Defining the Key Generational Groups” will be on Tuesday, Nov. 29, during the Modular Conference presentations. My presentation on “Best Practices for Food Ingredient Marketers” will be on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the Industry Insight Theatre on the Expo floor.

Attendees will receive a free copy of our recent research report on “The Next Generation of B2B Customers,” as well as a free copy of our newly updated review of “Best Practices in Food Ingredient Marketing Communications.” I hope you and your colleagues will be able to join me for these presentations during the conference.

You can find additional information about Hi Europe at http://www.figlobal.com/hieurope-conference/, or to register for the conference, visit http://www.figlobal.com/hieurope-conference/attend/register-today.

I look forward to seeing you there.

The Next Generation of B2B Customers for Ingredient Suppliers

Millennials are now the largest living generation and will make up fifty percent of the workforce by 2020. The customer landscape is changing with this generation coming of age and food ingredient suppliers are being directly affected. We have released a meta-study which explores millennials as the new customers for food ingredient suppliers. It explains how to communicate and build meaningful relationships with these new millennial B2B customers.

There are numerous research studies regarding millennials as consumers and employees. However, there is very little information about millennials as B2B customers. Due to the lack of information and this fast changing environment, we have compiled this meta-study with correlations from our research surrounding millennials in different aspects of their lives. We have also provided tactics and advice on how to communicate and build business relationships with this generation.

We believe that this meta-study will be able to give insight, provide advice and suggest communication tools to accomplish the goal of building these new customer relationships with millennials.

To download your free copy of “The Next Generation of B2B Customers” click here.

ForNextGenerationMockup

Joining the Conversation—Telling the Food Science Story

For many years now, the food science community has struggled with how to tell the food science story in the age of increasingly skeptical consumers. With the growth of pseudoscience “experts” and opinion-driven advocates like the Food Babe, food scientists have often felt bewildered about how to bring a rational, science-based voice to the conversation. Even worse, they often feel left out of the conversation entirely and without the tools or skills that they need to join the conversation with the informed view that sound food science can offer.

The struggle to tell the food science story has been an ongoing theme throughout the food industry and a major topic of conversation among food trade associations, as well as at national and international food conferences. But at this year’s annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago, the conversation took a major step forward as several keynote speakers and featured panel discussion sessions took the topic head-on and started to offer food scientists the strategies and the tactics they need to start using their storytelling skills to effectively deliver the food science message.

During the IFT Leadership Summit, one of the featured speakers was Trevor Butterworth, a co-founder of the non-profit, non-partisan Sense about Science organization. His presentation on “Effective Science Communication” provided practical tips and real-world examples of how food scientists can effectively engage with the mainstream media to tell their story. He emphasized transparency, authenticity and presenting science in simple, easy to understand stories. He also urged spokespeople to “know your audience” and engage with them in conversations instead of attacking them for their lack of scientific literacy. The Sense about Science group has even published “A Media Guide for Scientists” with practical advice on dealing with journalists before, during and after a media interview.

A featured panel discussion during the IFT16 scientific sessions focused on “Food Trends vs. Food Fads.” The IFT_07558_InsideImageindustry experts on the panel all agreed that the food-science community needs to do a better job of presenting the food-science story to consumers. The panel discussed the explosive growth in social media and the need for food scientists to participate in the “two-way conversation” regarding processed food and functional ingredients necessary in delivering a safe, nutritious and abundant food supply, especially in the area of clean labels and simple ingredients. Food Business News reported on the panel in a feature story on “The complicated reality of simple ingredients.”

Also at IFT16, a keynote address from Bev Postma, an international food policy specialist, drew a standing room only crowd.  Titled “Taming Dragons in the Age of Pseudoscience,” Ms. Postma’s presentation focused on how to engage the pseudoscientists and the opinion-driven advocates in meaningful conversations to help tell the food-science story. She offered several direct ideas to food scientists to help build an emotional connection during those conversations including:
1.    Enter every conversation assuming there is something to learn.
2.    Express empathy and genuinely seek to understand the other side’s positions.
3.    Listen with the intent of building mutual understanding.

As Ms. Postma pointed out, once an emotional connection is made, scientists can steer the conversation to the many ways that science and technology can benefit consumers and their food supply.

By far the most important new development at IFT16 was the increased willingness of the food-science community to join in the ongoing conversation and become more proactive in telling the food-science story. Expect to see more activity and media coverage as more food scientists and their spokespeople get involved in talking about all of the important and necessary benefits that food science brings to our rapidly growing world.

The New Customers for Food Ingredient Suppliers

A Study on Effective Communication with the New B2B Millennial Customer

The customer landscape is changing for food ingredient suppliers—organizational changes are taking place as baby boomers transition out of the workforce and millennials become more prevalent. Several of our food ingredient clients have told us that with this shift, they have faced challenges, specifically around knowing how to effectively communicate and build meaningful relationships with these new contacts at their long-time customer companies.

There is a lot of information out there about millennials as consumers and as employees—the trends they set, their values and what’s important to them—however, there is little information about them as B2B customers. To help fill that void, we will be releasing a new meta-study—“Millennials: The New Customers for Food Ingredient Suppliers—a New Study on Effective Communication and Building Relationships.” This new study will help give ingredient suppliers the tools they need to better understand the growing millennial workforce and help them build successful business relationships with these “new” customers.

As a preview to our new study, we’ve published the infographic below. The full study will be available soon, so be sure to check back to download your copy and learn how you can engage and build relationships with the next generation of B2B customers.

millennial_infographic_big

How to Communicate the Food Science Message

One of the hottest topics at IFT15 in Chicago last July was the serious concern throughout the food industry around how to communicate the food science message to an increasingly skeptical consumer audience. In the age of the Food Babe and other opinion-driven food advocates, the food science message is increasingly lost inside the clutter of fear mongering and unfounded opinions that seem to surround otherwise healthy food ingredients and the food science that helps feed a hungry planet.

We have written about this subject often in recent months. Our infographic series on “Food Science vs The Food Babe – Who Controls the Story?” received a lot of attention and comment from the food science community. Food ingredient manufacturers want to know how to defend its products from attack and how to use sound food science to communicate the value of its products.

One of the most interesting sessions at IFT15 was the well-attended “Communicating Food Science to the Masses” panel discussion. Experienced food communication professionals joined in with accomplished food science academics from leading universities to discuss the current environment and how food manufacturers can help effectively communicate the food science message. Kim Essex, the director of the food and ag practice at Ketchum, a public relations firm, talked about the rise of “food evangelists” and their opinion-driven advocacy that regularly attacks processed foods and ingredients through social media. She addressed the need to engage with these advocates, understand their concerns and join the dialogue with them on the same social media platforms they regularly use.

We think that directly engaging with these “evangelists” is an important first step for food ingredient companies that want to successfully communicate the food science message. The top communication strategies we see being employed could be summarized in five key areas:commun.inside

  1. Speak Up – Don’t be silent, engage with the food activists on their own terms
  2. Be Swift – Responding quickly to negative claims is essential
  3. Have a Strategy – Use the same media channels as the activists to reach their audiences
  4. Use Science – Use facts and objective information to set the record straight
  5. Make it Simple – Make your scientific evidence clear and concise

As the clean-label movement continues its momentum, communicating the food science message will be essential as food companies re-evaluate its product labels and the need to justify the inclusion of certain functional ingredients that are essential to the quality of an application. In fact, I will be speaking at Fi Europe in Paris in December as part of a panel discussion on the topic: Improving the reputation of the food industry: How can consumer engagement help?

Have you seen any examples from food companies or food ingredient companies supporting the food science message?

B-to-B Marketers Need to Tell Brand Stories

FoodNavigator Feature Says: “Ingredient Suppliers have brand story to tell too.”

brandstory.inside

Mark Hughes, president of Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing, recently had an extended conversation with FoodNavigators’ Maggie Hennessy on the need for food ingredient suppliers and marketers to tell their brand stories as part of their marketing communications plans. They talked about how the best ingredient marketers create premium positions for their products that differentiate them from their competitors and create value perceptions that let them break through the clutter of other commodity ingredient products. Maggie wrote a feature on the conversation for FoodNavigator that can be found here.

Food ingredient marketers can use the same branding techniques as consumer food products in telling their stories to their B-to-B customer and prospect audiences. By focusing on the best practices of other successful ingredient companies, food ingredient marketers can build authentic brand stories that resonate and engage their audiences. Content marketing strategies and B-to-B social media platforms can help spread the word and build an even wider audience. All of the principles of good branding and the branding strategies and tactics that apply to consumer products can be successfully deployed to support the ingredient product brand as well.

The most successful food ingredient companies we see are those that execute fully integrated marketing plans to tell their stories and create premium positions for their brands. You can see examples of these brands and case histories on the Best Practices section of our website. Highlights include best practices like featuring ingredient applications, branding product sample packaging, content marketing tactics and trade show strategies. We also put together a Food Ingredient Marketing Best Practices Report designed to help you develop more successful food ingredient marketing communication programs.

If you have brand stories you are telling about your food ingredient products, we would love to hear about them in the comments.

 

Why The GMO Debate Still Matters

In recent weeks, many major food manufacturers including General Mills, ConAgra Foods and Campbell’s have announced that they will begin labeling their products to state that they contain GMOs or genetically engineered ingredients. While all of these companies have stated unequivocally that they agree with the scientific consensus that GMO foods are safe, they have been forced to start labeling their products to comply with new labeling regulations from the state of Vermont. All of this is due to Congress not being able to approve federal legislation that would override the state’s new laws set to take effect in July 2016.

The Vermont regulations call for a simple statement in the ingredient label on the back of the package instead of the “skull and crossbones” negative warning symbol many anti-GMO advocates had been hoping for. Many of these same anti-GMO advocates have been claiming victory in the debate over GMOs while, in fact, well over 90% of all packaged foods sold in the U.S. will continue to contain some level of genetically engineered ingredients.

In this overheated and passionate environment, what should responsible leaders in the food science community think about the continuing debate over GMO technologies? Even though packaged food products will begin labeling the inclusion of GMO ingredients, the science behind GMO technologies will continue to play a crucial role in the evolving future of food. The food science community needs to have a clear and common sense position supporting the scientific consensus behind the importance of these technologies.

 

In thinking about this position, it is helpful to view the GMO debate through the lenses of the “Rich World” and the “Poor World.” In the “Rich World,” consumers are able to make “lifestyle choices” about the foods that they eat. Many “Rich World” consumers can afford to pay the increased costs associated with organic, natural and non-GMO food choices. They can make these types of “personal fashion statements” about the foods they choose to buy and eat.

In the “Poor World,” the least-developed countries around the globe, consumers are often simply trying to find enough food to feed themselves and their families. They cannot afford the kind of fashionable food choices that consumers in the “Rich World” are able to make. It is in these developing countries where the benefits of GMO technologies are needed most to increase crop yields, adapt for climate change and provide proper nutrition. The United Nations estimates that world population will expand to over 9 billion people by 2050 and that the vast majority of that population growth will take place in the least-developed countries of the world.

We need GMO technologies in order to meet the increased demand of food production required to feed this rapidly growing global population. GMO technologies and GMO scientists can help us feed the world, if we let them. The food science community needs to take the lead in advocating for the sensible development of advanced GMO technologies. We should support scientifically sound GMO practices and take the initiative to communicate the food science position to help educate consumers in the U.S. and worldwide. And we can do all this while still supporting openness and transparency across the food industry.

In the final analysis, feeding a rapidly growing world population is the “Grand Challenge” of our generation and the real goal of the evolving future of food. As Newsweek magazine recently said, “If we can’t feed the world, it will eventually feed on us.”

Favorite Chefs on the Internet

“Chefs are incredibly important future leaning reflectors of where food flavors, preparation and health are headed. Chefs are the food educators of our time.” That’s according to Food Culture 2012, a report from the Hartman Group. Chefs have always played an important role in new food product development and their role in the commercial ingredient channels of the food industry has continued to grow. We previously wrote about a trade show hit for Sunkist Growers who featured a celebrity chef’s new dishes at the PMA Show in California.

ChefTwitterLarge

Chefs have also taken a leading role in using the Internet to communicate with their fans and followers as well as with their peers and colleagues. We see leading chefs everywhere on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and of course the ubiquitous Facebook. Recently we posted a tweet to our Twitter feed @markhughesfood that asked the question “Who is your favorite chef on Twitter?” The tweet drew far more comments, re-tweets and favorites than normal. In response, here are our favorite chefs on the Internet:

Mario Batali

Molto Mario uses a great recipe for his Internet activity and gets terrific online engagement from his fans and peers. His main website has rich and varied content on his various properties and projects including links to all his social media platforms. But it’s on Twitter where the chef really shines. His Twitter feed @mariobatali is a lively blend of recipe tips and answers to fans questions about various dishes. His Twitter feed also contains his recommendations for ingredients and favorite haunts. The sheer volume of Chef Batali’s tweets suggest he has help with this, but the comments never lose the personality and charm that people expect from Mario.

Robert Danhi

Chef Robert Danhi is off on an adventure to search out great flavors and tastes and uses the Internet to effectively report on his progress and share his discoveries with friends and followers. His main website offers rich content on his focus of Asian dishes and local flavors. A companion site offers products and more content on Southeast Asian flavors. The chef’s Twitter handle is, of course, @chefdanhitweets and he actively uses Twitter to send greetings to friends and colleagues from his travels around the globe. He is also very generous with his time and knowledge, often sharing content with food bloggers and reporters. Here’s a recent local article from Rasa Malaysia on “Cooking with Chef Robert Danhi.”

Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pepin is, simply put, my favorite chef anywhere. So of course, that includes the Internet.  Chef Pepin’s La Technique has held an honored spot in my kitchen for 25 years and I continue to use it today. It continues to be one of the all-time best selling cook books. Chef Pepin has a robust presence on the Internet mainly through his instructional videos. Here’s one for a very Pepin-like omelet. His videos cover a wide range of ingredients and finished dishes and are all presented in the chef’s calm and self-assured voice and style. According to a recent NY Times article, when it comes to food preparation, “There is the wrong way and there is Jacques Pepin’s way.”

We love all chefs on the Internet. These three are our favorites.  Who is your favorite Chef on the Internet?

2016 Top Food Trends Roundup

The end of the year is the time for annual food trend predictions for all of us in the food ingredient industry. We look at research to find out what new flavors will be seasoning our food. We pour over market trends to find out the new directions foodservice will be heading. And we study trend reports to gain insight into what consumers are going to want in the coming year.

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At Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing, our team of ingredient marketing experts has been studying the latest in consumer food trends, flavor trends and foodservice trends. The team’s new series of blog posts on indepth, our food marketing blog, rounds up the major trends forecast in each of these key areas.

Liz Bloyd reports on 2016 Consumer Food Trends in her roundup blog post. Consumers are seeking adventures for their taste buds and it’s a trend that is common to several leading trend forecasts. The roundup report includes summaries and links to major trend reports from Packaged Facts, Sterling-Rice Group, Mintel and Innova Market Insights. Innova ranks “Clean Label” as the number one trend for 2016.

For 2016 Foodservice Trends, food marketing analyst Elizabeth Murphy’s roundup reports on the National Restaurant Associations’ survey of over 1,500 members of the American Culinary Federation to determine the hot trends for 2016 menus. The roundup also includes links to foodservice forecasts from Technomic’s trend report Technomics Take: 2016 Food Trends as well as Baum + Whiteman’s 11 Hottest Food & Beverage Dining Trends.

In his roundup report on 2016 Flavor Trends, Dan Swoboda looks at leading flavor trend forecasts from Packaged Facts, Comax Flavors and, of course, the annual Flavor Forecast from McCormick & Company—the granddaddy of all flavor forecasts. McCormick predicts that America’s love for spicy flavors will continue with tangy accents that will open up the door to more multicultural flavors. Next year looks to be the year to get even bolder with flavors as consumers continue to seek more exotic and adventurous foods.

From consumer food trends, to foodservice menu trends, to flavor forecasts, there is a lot to look forward to in 2016. I have a feeling it’s going to be another delicious year.

Clean Label Continues to Build Momentum

Our new infographic tracks the latest updates in the clean-label trend. As we have written about before, clean label is not a trend—it’s the rule. As clean label continues to build momentum with consumers, food manufacturing and food service customers are demanding even more support from their food ingredient suppliers. Will food ingredient companies be able to keep up with the demand? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

CleanLabel infographic

 

 

 

 

 

How to Communicate the Food Science Message

One of the hottest topics at IFT15 in Chicago in early July was the serious concern throughout the food industry around how to communicate the food science message to an increasingly skeptical consumer audience. In the age of the Food Babe and other opinion-driven food advocates, the food science message is increasingly lost inside the clutter of fear mongering and unfounded opinions that seem to surround otherwise healthy food ingredients and the food science that helps feed a hungry planet.

We have written about this subject often in recent months. Our infographic series on “Food Science vs The Food Babe – Who Controls the Story?” received a lot of attention and comment from the food science community. Food ingredient manufacturers want to know how to defend its products from attack and how to use sound food science to communicate the value of its products.

One of the most interesting sessions at IFT15 was the well-attended “Communicating Food Science to the Masses” panel discussion. Experienced food communication professionals joined in with accomplished food science academics from leading universities to discuss the current environment and how food manufacturers can help effectively communicate the food science message. Kim Essex, the director of the food and ag practice at Ketchum, a public relations firm, talked about the rise of “food evangelists” and their opinion-driven advocacy that regularly attacks processed foods and ingredients through social media. She addressed the need to engage with these advocates, understand their concerns and join the dialogue with them on the same social media platforms they regularly use.

We think that directly engaging with these “evangelists” is an important first step for food ingredient companies that want to successfully communicate the food science message. The top communication strategies we see being employed could be summarized in five key areas:commun.inside

  1. Speak Up – Don’t be silent, engage with the food activists on their own terms
  2. Be Swift – Responding quickly to negative claims is essential
  3. Have a Strategy – Use the same media channels as the activists to reach their audiences
  4. Use Science – Use facts and objective information to set the record straight
  5. Make it Simple – Make your scientific evidence clear and concise

As the clean-label movement continues its momentum, communicating the food science message will be essential as food companies re-evaluate its product labels and the need to justify the inclusion of certain functional ingredients that are essential to the quality of an application. In fact, I will be speaking at Fi Europe in Paris in December as part of a panel discussion on the topic: Improving the reputation of the food industry: How can consumer engagement help?

Have you seen any examples from food companies or food ingredient companies supporting the food science message?

Top Trends in Food Ingredient Marketing Communications

Here at Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing, we are constantly pouring through marketing research, studying food ingredient trends and gathering feedback from our clients. This knowledge is the basis behind the blog posts that we share on here. Today we are rounding up our top trends in food ingredient marketing communications. These resources are meant to help other food ingredient marketers as they develop their communications programs.

Food Ingredient Marketing Communications 2

1. B2B Social Media

As more B2C food manufacturers adopt social media into a marketing channel for their products, it provides an opportunity for B2B food ingredient companies to engage with their target audience in new ways. In our three-part series on the social media effect on B2B marketing, we first explore the growth of B2B social media use in the food industry and how social media is influencing B2B food ingredient marketing. In part two of our series, we look at who is utilizing social media in the B2B food ingredient space and how they’re utilizing the various platforms. To wrap up the series we show you an integrated marketing model your company can use to launch and maintain a successful social media presence.

2. Branding for Ingredient Products

Mark Hughes, president of Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing, recently had an extended conversation with FoodNavigators’ Maggie Hennessy on the need for food ingredient suppliers and marketers to tell their brand stories as part of their marketing communications plans. They talked about how the best ingredient marketers create premium positions for their products that differentiate them from their competitors and create value perceptions that let them break through the clutter of other commodity ingredient products.

3. Telling the Food Science Story

The food industry has struggled recently with how to use established food-science knowledge to combat the opinion-based advocacy from media celebrities and food activists such as the Food Babe and Dr. Oz. To help food ingredient marketers deal with this issue, we launched a series of infographics comparing the actual food science to the media-driven opinions around food ingredients like Boneless Lean Beef, GMOs and Azodicarbonamide. Our series concludes with our top five communication tips to use when you have a strong and important food-science story to tell.

4. Using Best Practices

Our portfolio of best practice examples that have been pivotal in successful marketing programs.

What top trends have you noticed in food ingredient marketing communications? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

Product Innovation Leads the Way for Research Chefs

The Research Chefs Association’s (RCA) 2015 Annual Conference and Culinology Expo in New Orleans was once again the year’s best event for many of the leading product innovators in the food industry. From March 24-27, top celebrity chefs, research and development chefs, and culinologists from leading food manufacturers gathered for four days of unparalled food and fun as only New Orleans can provide.

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The conference got off to a great start with the opening reception at Generations Hall in the Warehouse District. The event was sponsored by Ardent Mills, Red Arrow and Symrise. Ardent Mills brought in a live New Orleans jazz band along with their ever popular Mobile Innovation Center (MIC). The MIC shut down the street in front of Generations Hall and served a variety of new food samples including Sweet & Savory Grits, Bayou Dirty Rice and Peach Cobbler made with Ultragrain® white whole wheat flour. Attendees raved about the food as they rocked out to the rhythms of the jazz band.

The theme of new product innovation continued throughout the conference. In the opening keynote address, New Orleans celebrity Chef John Besh talked about the important role that innovating new dishes from traditional southern cuisines has played in keeping his restaurants popular leaders in the region. He also spoke about the work his Besh Foundation is doing with the local “Chefs Move” program.

Many of the seminars and breakout sessions also featured presentations on new product innovation for the chefs and product developers at the conference. One of the best attended sessions was titled, “From Unarticulated Consumer Needs to Products that Rock” and was presented by Mark Crowell from Culinex and Michelle Berry from Centric Brand Anthropology. The session focused on the need to align new products with a consistent brand experience and brand positioning that connects with consumers in an authentic way.

Overall, this year’s conference was one of the RCA’s best in several years. The focus on new product innovation and the roles played by research chefs and culinologists will continue to be a major trend in the food ingredient industry for many years to come.

Research Chefs Get Ready for Culinology® Expo in New Orleans

Excitement is building for the Annual Conference and Culinology® Expo of the Research Chefs Association. This year’s meeting is being held March 24-27 in New Orleans. As usual, celebrity chefs will be the main attraction as culinologists and research chefs from major foodservice and food manufacturing companies gather to discuss the latest trends, and share new and innovative ideas. The keynote speaker at this year’s conference will be John Besh, a chef and a native son dedicated to the culinary riches of southern Louisiana. During the 2012 conference in San Antonio, Chef Besh hosted a private event at his restaurant Lüke San Antonio for his fellow chefs and other corporate product developers. Here is the original report we posted from San Antonio on Chef Besh’s event. See you in New Orleans. Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler!

Celebrity Chefs Rule at RCA 2012 in San Antonio

Originally published March 28, 2012

Celebrity chefs received widespread attention at the Research Chefs Association (RCA) 2012 Annual Conference and Culinology Expo in San Antonio. Throughout the conference, the chefs showed just how much their influence has grown in the development and formulation of processed food products from the major manufacturers. This was evident at the Expo, where well over 100 food ingredient companies pitched their products to corporate chefs from major customer companies such as Kraft, Kellogg, Unilever and Nestlé.

Chef John BeshThe chefs were also featured at numerous private events held throughout the city’s bustling restaurant district. The one that seemed to have the most buzz starred celebrity TV chef and restaurateur, John Besh, at his popular restaurant, Lüke, on the San Antonio River Walk. Sponsored by Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings and ConAgra Mills, the event featured a delicious menu of small plate items prepared with ingredients, spices and flavors provided by the sponsors to the chef’s team. One popular item was Spicy Bam Bam Shrimp in a tempura batter made with Ultragrain® White Whole Wheat Flour and a Spicetec seasoning blend of Sriracha and vinegar flavors. The menu drew rave reviews, and guests were excited to talk serious food with Chef Besh and his team.

One of our favorite chefs every year at RCA is Chef Robert Danhi. Chef Danhi got his share of buzz for his great new cookbook, “Easy Thai Cooking,” featuring family-style dishes easily prepared at home. The book and companion video are available on Chef Danhi’s website.

Chef Gerri Bouchard, the corporate research chef for Eatem Foods, also drew a lot of attention for her innovative flavor systems. Food application samples featuring those flavor systems included an intriguing Pho Bo with cilantro, jalapeño and Thai basil.

Corporate chefs, research chefs and their product development colleagues will continue to be a major influence on the formulation and development of new processed food products. Expect to see food ingredient marketers focus even more of their efforts on chefs in the future.

B2B Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 of our series, B2B Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers, we looked at the growth of B2B social media, the importance of utilizing platforms that your audience is using and engaging with those individuals enterprise-wide. To wrap up our series, we’ll look at how to integrate B2B social media into your overall marketing communications plan.

It’s important to look at B2B social media as an additional platform to communicate and connect with your audience. We see food ingredient companies having the most success when they use social media in conjunction with other content marketing platforms. In the integrated content marketing and B2B social media model below, we look at the website as being the hub for content. A best practice we see in the industry is food ingredient marketers utilizing a blog on their website as a source for original content. A blog is a great platform to further engage your target audience by sharing insights, trends and more detailed information around the products and services you offer that would be helpful to new product development and reformulations. What really helps drive your target audience to your products and services, knowledge and expertise is how and where you share that content to push it beyond your website.

Integrated Content Marketing and B2B Social Media Model

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Email marketing is a tactic that provides you a platform to communicate your message and share your content. Combining email marketing with social media increases your message reach and amplifies exposure. As we mentioned in part two of our series, professionals enterprise-wide from your customer audience are engaged in social media beyond personal use. They use it to gather information to help guide them on their purchasing decisions and product development.

We see a lot of companies having great success with this approach. Tyson Food Service is a great example. Tyson Food Service has a website and blog where they share relevant content to their audience. They use email marketing and social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to further communicate their message, broaden visibility to their brand and engage with their audience.

When you incorporate B2B social media into an integrated content marketing model, similar to how Tyson Food Service has done, you create a feedback loop with your target audience allowing you to engage in discussion with individuals, learn more about what’s important to them and increase your marketplace success.

We would like to hear how you are doing with B2B social media. Write us directly or comment here with your own success stories.

B2B Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers Part 2

Part one of our series on B2B social media for food ingredient marketers highlighted how social media use among food ingredient companies has skyrocketed in the last five years. In part two of the series, we will explore the food ingredient industry’s use of B2B social media and the key audiences to connect with online.

With the sheer number of individuals using social media, and the fact that it is used for professional and personal engagements, it can be hard to identify who’s out there. When it comes to B2B food industry social media use, there are many professionals using LinkedIn and Twitter as their primary social media platforms:

  • Your competition
  • Your customers
  • Your customers’ consumers
  • Trade media publishers and editors
  • Industry associations

When it comes to selling your ingredients, there are a number of individuals from your customer companies who have an influence on what ingredients are included in their products. You’ve got to look beyond purchasing and communicate and engage with your customers and target audience enterprise-wide. Engaging with individuals enterprise-wide means you have to market your product in such a way that is relevant to each audience.

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  • C-Suite Executives – may not be directly involved in the purchasing of ingredients, but are overarching influencers of what ingredients are incorporated into their products.
  • Purchasing – influenced by cost, supply chain and food safety.
  • Marketing Executives – look at the benefits and advantages of using ingredients in their products to help them market and sell their finished goods.
  • Research Chefs – are interested in food trends, culinary arts and the science of food.
  • Innovation Experts – focused on trends and what consumers are looking for as well as what new technologies are available to enhance their products or develop new applications.
  • Food Scientists – look for information regarding food safety, quality, developing new formulations and applications.

Most of these individuals are active on social media every day. They participate on Twitter as well as on LinkedIn by sharing news articles, food industry trends and information about their company’s latest innovations. Most of these individuals engage in discussion by using relevant hashtags in their Tweets and also by commenting on LinkedIn Pulse Posts and LinkedIn group discussions that are relevant to their business. They gather information from social media to help guide them on their purchasing decisions and product development. That’s why it’s important for food ingredient marketers to use B2B social media—it’s where their audience is. Using social media as another communication platform keeps your message and brand top of mind.

In part three of our series on B2B social media for food ingredient marketers, we will share the steps food ingredient marketers can take to launch a social media plan as part of an integrated marketing plan. Until then, we would love to hear how your company is using social media to target and engage with individual influencers.

B2B Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers Part 1

Social media has come a long way in the food industry. A communication platform that was once used primarily for personal use is now a professional engagement tool for B2B food ingredient marketers. As more B2C food manufacturers adopt social media into a marketing channel for their products, it provides an opportunity for B2B food ingredient companies to engage with their target audience in new ways.

In our three-part series on the social media effect on B2B marketing, we will first explore the growth of B2B social media use in the food industry and how social media is influencing B2B food ingredient marketing. In part two of our series, we’ll look at who is utilizing social media in the B2B food ingredient space and how they’re utilizing the various platforms. To wrap up the series we will show you an integrated marketing model your company can use to launch and maintain a successful social media presence.

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In the last five years, the use of social media in B2B food ingredient marketing has grown significantly. In 2014, the top two platforms used by B2B food ingredient marketers were LinkedIn and Twitter. We will continue to see these as the top two platforms in 2015, however, Facebook, YouTube and Google+ will also show some significant growth and provide additional platforms B2B food ingredient marketers can use to extend their brand visibility and engage with their target audience.

The rapid growth of B2B food ingredient social media use has changed the way B2B decision makers make a purchase. Because of all the information and resources food ingredient companies are routinely sharing on social media, 74% of decision makers use LinkedIn when making a purchase decision and 42% use Twitter. In addition to B2B social media influencing decision makers, 81% turn to blogs for assistance with their purchasing decisions.

As a communication platform that is ongoing—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—social media has become a virtual trade show for the B2B food industry. Establishing social media channels as part of your B2B food ingredient marketing communications plan extends the visibility of your brand and messaging, and provides another platform to engage with your target audience.

In part two of our B2B social media for food ingredient marketers series, we will discuss who the key influencers are that food ingredient companies should be targeting on social media and how to engage with them on the various platforms. Until then, we would love to hear your thoughts on the growth of B2B social media in food ingredient marketing in the comments below.

B-to-B Marketers Need to Tell Brand Stories

FoodNavigator Feature Says: “Ingredient Suppliers have brand story to tell too.”

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Mark Hughes, president of Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing, recently had an extended conversation with FoodNavigators’ Maggie Hennessy on the need for food ingredient suppliers and marketers to tell their brand stories as part of their marketing communications plans. They talked about how the best ingredient marketers create premium positions for their products that differentiate them from their competitors and create value perceptions that let them break through the clutter of other commodity ingredient products. Maggie wrote a feature on the conversation for FoodNavigator that can be found here.

Food ingredient marketers can use the same branding techniques as consumer food products in telling their stories to their B-to-B customer and prospect audiences. By focusing on the best practices of other successful ingredient companies, food ingredient marketers can build authentic brand stories that resonate and engage their audiences. Content marketing strategies and B-to-B social media platforms can help spread the word and build an even wider audience. All of the principles of good branding and the branding strategies and tactics that apply to consumer products can be successfully deployed to support the ingredient product brand as well.

The most successful food ingredient companies we see are those that execute fully integrated marketing plans to tell their stories and create premium positions for their brands. You can see examples of these brands and case histories on the Best Practices section of our website. Highlights include best practices like featuring ingredient applications, branding product sample packaging, content marketing tactics and trade show strategies. We also put together a Food Ingredient Marketing Best Practices Report designed to help you develop more successful food ingredient marketing communication programs.

If you have brand stories you are telling about your food ingredient products, we would love to hear about them in the comments.

 

Top Food Trends Roundup

For those of us in the food industry, the end of the year is the time for our annual food trend predictions. We study trends to gain insight into what consumers are going to want next year. We look at research to find out what new flavors will be seasoning our food. We pour over market trends to find out the direction foodservice is heading.

Our team of food marketing analysts at Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing have been studying the latest in consumer food trends, flavor trends and foodservice trends. Their newest series of blog posts rounds up the major trends forecast in each of these key areas.

2015 Food Trends Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing

Liz Bloyd’s 2015 Consumer Food Trends Roundup noted that this is the year that the food industry moves from clean to clear labeling. Consumers want to know what is in their food and be able to make informed decisions about what they are feeding themselves and their families. This is in large part driven by Millennial consumers, aged 15-35, who are beginning to flex their purchasing power. They prefer craft foods made by brands that tell a story. If those foods can be consumed as snacks, even better, as more and more consumers are shifting to quick, healthy snack foods to replace traditional meals.

In the 2015 Flavor Trends Roundup, Elizabeth Rice found that 82 percent of United States consumers are willing to try new flavors. The Food Industry is taking this statistic to heart and pushing Middle Eastern and Asian flavors to the masses in 2015. Flavors with sour, smoky and bitter notes are particularly on trend, as well as combinations like Sweet + Heat and Sour + Salt. As consumers seek out more protein, nuts have a health halo that is resulting in them being used as flavorings in many products. Customers and producers alike appreciate versatility in a food ingredient. Honey has the ability to be a vessel for sweet, subdued flavors as well as bold, spicy flavors. That is why it was named the flavor of 2015. Expect to see honey in many food applications in the coming year.

The 2015 Foodservice Trends Roundup, by Erin Fairchild, finds 46 percent of consumers believe eating out to be the healthiest, tastiest dining option. This is a trend that is only expected to grow in the future as eating out becomes more and more common. Customers want fewer choices on restaurant menus but more options for customization. They prefer quality to quantity and want food to be locally sourced. This anti-chain ethos is causing national chains to open quasi-independent stores to respond to local demands. Supermarkets hope to give themselves a face-lift and are re-branding themselves with in-store restaurants, cooking classes and events. They have lost 15 percent market share in the last 10 years to other food venues and want to re-establish relevancy.

From consumer food trends, to flavor trends, to foodservice trends, we have a lot to look forward to in 2015. I have a feeling it’s going to be a delicious year.

Top 5 Tips for Fighting the Food Babe and Opinion-driven Activists

Our series on “Food Science vs. the Food Babe—Who Controls the Story?” has drawn a lot of spirited response from the food-science community in support of pushing back against the uninformed and unscientific opinions of misguided food activists like the Food Babe. Many of the comments that we have received have asked about the best ways for food marketers to respond to these kinds of opinion-driven attacks. This week, our series concludes with a new infographic featuring the top five communication tips to use when you have a strong and important food-science story to tell.

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Food Science vs. Food Babe—Who Controls the Story? Part 2

Our series on “Food Science vs. Food Babe—Who Controls the Story?” continues this week with a new infographic featuring more examples of opinion-based advocates who ignore established food science as they seek to demonize food ingredients and food companies. This week, our examples include Dr. Oz and his misguided attacks on GMOs along with another example of the Food Babe missing the point—this time on beer ingredients. Let us know what you think.

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Who Controls the Story? Part 1

The food industry has struggled recently with how to use established food-science knowledge to combat the opinion-based advocacy from media celebrities and food activists such as the Food Babe and Dr. Oz. To help food ingredient marketers deal with this issue, we are launching a new series of infographics comparing the actual food science to the media-driven opinions around food ingredients like Boneless Lean Beef and Azodicarbonamide. Our series will continue over the next three weeks and will include tips and techniques for how food ingredient companies can respond to the challenges of opinion-driven food activists.

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Ingredient Marketing Workshop Engages Audience at Fi Global Summit in London

In September, the Food Ingredient Global Summit in London drew a wide audience of leading global food ingredient manufacturers and marketers. Presented by the UBM team that produces Fi Europe, this new executive conference featured top global companies like Nestle, Unilever and General Mills, along with the latest food trends research from Mintel, Innova and Euromonitor.

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I had the privilege of presenting a master class workshop during the conference on Best Practices in Food Ingredient Marketing Communications. We discussed the challenges food ingredient marketers face in getting their customers engaged with their products and reviewed a series of best practices by presenting successful strategies and tactics. The workshop also included detailed examples of programs from leading ingredient companies that incorporated best practices into their integrated marketing plans.

The attendees at the workshop included marketing professionals from Europe, the U.S., Asia and Africa. They enthusiastically discussed the different programs we reviewed and shared their own experiences and some of the tactics that they were having success with in their companies. Many said that they left the workshop with specific ideas they wanted to work with and implement in their programs when they got home.

The best practice strategy that drew the most attention and interest was the rapidly growing use of B-to-B social media by food companies in the ingredient channels.  There were many examples of how B-to-B marketers were using social media as a communication tool on social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. We reviewed an integrated social media platform that achieved leading rankings in search results through proactive content management, or what we refer to as “leaving a big footprint” on the internet.

Workshop attendees went home with a planning template to use in developing their own integrated marketing communications plan using the best practice strategies and tactics. If you are interested in more information on the best practice approach to food ingredient marketing, you can see a wide range of examples on our industry resource website at www.apfoodingredients.com.

Overall, the Fi Global Summit in London was one of the best food industry executive conferences of the year. The team at UBM did a great job. The Summit should become a “must attend” event for food ingredient marketers next year and beyond.

Best Practice: Branded Sample Packaging from Land O’Lakes Ingredients

Over the years, we’ve received numerous product samples from food ingredient companies and routinely, they arrive in plain baggies or boxes with simple product labels. We feel these particular sample packages—ones that land in the hands of customers—are missed opportunities for brand reinforcement and targeted sales messaging. As an industry best practice, branding product sample packaging will make a lasting impression among the customers and prospects who receive your samples.

A great example of this industry best practice is one sent out by LOL-IMG_9871Land O’Lakes Ingredients. For the introduction of their Green Chile Queso dairy seasoning, Land O’Lakes Ingredients mailed a sample package that consisted of a branded box with an engaging call-to-action message that said “Check inside for another bright idea from Land O’Lakes Ingredients.”

Along with the branding on the outside of the box, the inside of the lid contained a strong marketing message and also featured a branded trifold brochure that defined the ingredient product and sample application within the package. The brochure also had a call-to-action that provided customers and prospects the contact information to learn more and/or order the Green Chile Queso dairy seasoning.

In addition to the branded box and collateral, each of the samples contained a branded label that clearly detailed the contents of the container. The Green Chile Queso tortilla chips application sample had a simple white label with the Land O’Lakes Ingredients logo, while the Green Chile Queso dairy seasoning sample had a branded label that matched the look and feel of the brochure and box it was shipped in.

All in all, Land O’Lakes Ingredients’ Green Chile Queso sample package provides another great example of following the industry best practice of branding sample packaging—using it as a tool to communicate with customers to reinforce the brand and deliver a strong targeted message.

Best Practice: Bioenergy Ribose Landing Page Features Ingredient Applications

In a recent blog post, we shared an example of an industry best practice in food ingredient marketing—branded sample packaging. Another industry best practice we see helping food ingredient companies reach their customers enterprise-wide is featuring ingredient applications.

Bioenergy Ribose - Sweet Innovation Landing PageBioenergy Life Science (Bioenergy) launched a landing page called The Sweet Taste of Innovation for its ingredient, Bioenergy Ribose—a bioactive ingredient that energizes functional foods and beverages. Like most ingredients in the industry, Bioenergy Ribose on its own is a white powder. Rather than show its white powder ingredient to customers, Bioenergy features an array of food applications in confectionary, beverage and bakery that incorporate Bioenergy Ribose on its landing page—presenting customers the value the ingredient can bring to their products. In addition to visually showing the applications, the landing page engages customers as they navigate around the landing page—by simply moving their cursor over a particular application, a pop-up appears providing customers with additional information on the enhanced health benefits Bioenergy Ribose provides.

As customers scroll through the landing page, they can see additional applications and also learn about the advantages of incorporating Bioenergy Ribose and the science behind the ingredient. The landing page also engages customers through a “request a sample” form and gives them the opportunity to interact with the experts at Bioenergy Life Science through links to their social media platforms.

By incorporating the industry’s best practice of featuring ingredient applications, Bioenergy Life Science is able to visually present the value Bioenergy Ribose can bring as an ingredient to its customers’ products.

Best Practice: Chiquita Fruit Solutions’ Branded Sample Packaging

To make a lasting impression among the customers and prospects who receive samples, it’s an industry best practice to brand your product sample packaging. Chiquita Fruit Solutions made an impact with its branded sample packaging that simply stated “Open Your Imagination.”

Chiquita Sample PackaingChiquita Fruit Solutions created a unique sample package for its Fruit Crumbles—a 100 percent natural, air-crisped fruit ingredient product with a wide range of surprising food applications. To capture the attention of Chiquita Fruit Solutions’ customers and to stretch their imaginations, the sample packaging and its contents were designed to help expand the possibilities for customer applications.

Since the shipping box was the first piece of marketing collateral seen by customers, Chiquita Fruit Solutions followed industry best practices and made sure its company name and messaging was visible by labeling all four sides of the box with the Chiquita Fruit Solutions logo, a headline stating, “All Natural Fruit Crumbles,” and an application image with the text “Open Your Imagination.”

Contained in the box were well-labeled Banana Crumbles and Fruit Chips, Tropical Mix Crumbles and Fruit Chips, and Pineapple Rings. The sample package also included a brochure that provided customers with a list of product features, nutritional information and contact information to learn more about Chiquita Fruit Crumbles.

By following the industry’s best practices on sample packaging, Chiquita Fruit Solutions was able to reinforce its brand and deliver a targeted message to its customers—and hopefully open some imaginations.

IFT ’14 Roundup: New Product Launches, Trends, Introduction of Ardent Mills

IFT 2014From June 21-24, I was in New Orleans at the Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo with more than 16,400 food professionals from all over the globe, to learn about the latest product and ingredient innovations, as well as identify trends that will shape the industry. This year’s show featured 1,120 exhibitors and more than 100 educational sessions and 1,000+ poster sessions.

This year’s IFT showcased a variety of trends in the food ingredient industry. Ingredion was one of several food ingredient companies talking about authenticity, better-for-you snacking and global variety as trends that are driving ingredient research and product development around the world. Similar to previous IFT shows, sugar reduction, salt reduction and fat reduction were still hot topics. According to Innova Market Insights, a rise in home cooking, emerging superfood ingredients and clean-label concerns are also leading trends in food and beverage innovation.
In addition to top trends at IFT, many food ingredient companies were showcasing new products.

Cargill unveiled their new soybean oil made from identity-preserved, conventionally bred soybeans for customers interested in exploring a non-GMO claim on their product label. Land O’Lakes Ingredients demonstrated their expertise in dairy-based ingredients by showcasing their Sea-Salted Caramel dairy seasoning that they launched earlier this year.

Ardent Mills IFT Booth

One of the biggest, and most talked about, unveilings at this year’s IFT Food Expo was Ardent Mills—the newly formed company that combines the operations of ConAgra Mills and Horizon Milling. As part of their debut, they used a state-of-the-art vehicle for their introduction—the Mobile Innovation Center (MIC). The trailer truck-sized MIC served IFT attendees an array of New Orleans-style food applications that incorporated the Ardent Mills portfolio of all-natural traditional and specialty flours and whole grain products like fried alligator po’boys and dirty rice to whole grain beignets and muffuletta.

In our next blog post, we’ll share more insight about the Ardent Mills Mobile Innovation Center and how it plans to help drive grain innovation for its customers. In the meantime, feel free to leave us a comment below and share your thoughts and insights on what trends and new product launches you saw at the Food Expo that you think will shape the industry moving forward.

Top Trend Served at RCA: Regional Cuisine

The 2014 Research Chefs Association (RCA) Annual Conference and Culinology® Expo recently took place in Portland, Ore., March 11-14. Portland has been dubbed “America’s new food Eden” by TIME Magazine because of its trend-setting food truck scene, as well as its secret supper clubs and expansive outdoor markets.

Food Truck LunchDuring the RCA show, food trucks lined the street behind the Oregon Convention Center serving up a variety of regional cuisine. From tacos to fresh salads and wraps to gourmet sandwiches, the lunch selection satisfied a variety of taste buds. In addition to the food truck scene, the trend of regional cuisines dominated many local restaurants, which were crowded with RCA chefs and their friends.

The trend of regional cuisines was also a hot discussion topic at the conference. For the opening reception, which took place at the Portland Art Museum, local restaurants like Café NellKachka,Trébol Mexican Cuisine and Pazzo Ristorante provided samplings of their authentic locally sourced dishes.
With the regional cuisine trend getting so much attention at this year’s RCA show, we can expect to see restaurant menus and the foodservice industry provide even more of these offerings over the next year. It should make for some great dining and culinary delights.

Research Chefs Focus Attention on Sodium Reduction

The 2013 Annual Conference of the Research Chefs Association (RCA) was held in Charlotte, N.C., in March and once again focused on the latest trends in new product development. The Culinology®Expo featured over 100 different exhibitors showcasing the latest ingredients and culinary applications. Corporate chefs and new product development executives from the leading food manufacturers and food service companies exchanged ideas and experiences around new innovations and industry challenges.

One of the biggest trends getting the chefs’ attention was the ongoing pressure on food manufacturers and processors to reduce sodium in their food products. The loudest buzz at the RCA Show around sodium reduction was for ingredient supplier, Nu-Tek Food Science, and their new technology solution for reducing sodium in a wide variety of prepared food applications. At the Saturday morning conference breakfast, Nu-Tek Food Science executives showcased their new technology with an array of traditional breakfast items with significantly reduced sodium levels.

RCA Breakfast Photo-croppedCorporate Chefs Adam Moore and Todd Downs from Charlie Baggs, Inc. presented their English Muffin Challenge with 40-percent reduced-sodium English muffins at an Eggs Benedict station that included 50-percent reduced-sodium bacon, poached eggs and mustard hollandaise. The breakfast buffet also included Cheesy grits with 33-percent reduced-sodium cheddar cheese and 50-percent reduced-sodium sausage links. All of these breakfast items were made with Nu-Tek Food Science’s sodium-reduction technology.

Attendees were wowed by the great taste of the reduced-sodium foods. Corporate Chefs from Unilever, Morrison Food Service and other major manufacturers raved over Nu-Tek Food Science’s sodium-reduction technology as a major breakthrough in addressing this important food industry issue.

Once again, the annual RCA conference showcased the leading edge trends for food manufacturers and processors and in the case of the Nu-Tek Food Science breakfast buffet, did so with the great taste and top-shelf presentation that the research chefs have come to expect.

Celebrity Chefs Ruled at RCA 2012

As we get ready for the 2013 Research Chefs Association Annual (RCA) Conference and Culinology® Expo in Charlotte, we look back at last year’s event in San Antonio where celebrity chefs received widespread attention. Throughout the conference, the chefs showed just how much their influence has grown in the development and formulation of processed food products from the major manufacturers. This was evident at the Expo, where well over 100 food ingredient companies pitched their products to corporate chefs from major customer companies such as Kraft, Kellogg, Uniliver and Nestle.

Chef-John-BeshThe chefs were also featured at numerous private events held throughout the city’s bustling restaurant district. The one that seemed to have the most buzz starred celebrity TV chef and restaurateur, John Besh, at his popular restaurant,Lüke, on the San Antonio River Walk. Sponsored by Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings and ConAgra Mills, the event featured a delicious menu of small plate items prepared with ingredients, spices and flavors provided by the sponsors to the chef’s team. One popular item was Spicy Bam Bam Shrimp in a tempura batter made with Ultragrain® White Whole Wheat Flour and a Spicetec seasoning blend of sriracha and vinegar flavors. The menu drew rave reviews, and guests were excited to talk serious food with Chef Besh and his team.

One of our favorite chefs every year at RCA is Chef Robert Danhi. Chef Danhi got his share of buzz for his great new cookbook, “Easy Thai Cooking,” featuring family-style dishes easily prepared at home. The book and companion video are available on Chef Danhi’s website.

Chef Gerri Bouchard, the corporate research chef for Eatem Foods, also drew a lot of attention for her innovative flavor systems. Samples of food applications featuring those flavor systems included an intriguing Pho Bo with cilantro, jalapeno and Thai basil.

Corporate chefs, research chefs and their product development colleagues will continue to be a major influence on the formulation and development of new processed food products. Expect to see food ingredient marketers focus even more of their efforts on chefs in the future. We’ll be reporting on the latest developments and trends at RCA 2013. Check back to read about all the news from this year’s event.

Top Trends at IFT12

The IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo was once again the year’s leading showcase for the top trends in food ingredient marketing. Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in late June, the annual trade show of the Institute of Food Technologists featured over 1,000 ingredient manufacturers exhibiting their latest products and solutions for the food industry.

This year was dominated by a single leading trend: reduction. Keith Nunes, executive editor of Food Business News, called this year’s show, “The Reduction Show.” Indeed, it seemed like nearly every exhibitor offered an ingredient product or solution to help food manufacturers reduce at least one or more of the “unholy trinity” of salt, sugar and fat from their food products.

Nu-Tek Booth CroppedLeading the show were ingredient solutions to reduce sodium in manufactured and processed foods.  One of the clear leaders in sodium reduction was Nu-Tek Food Science, who’s Advanced Formula Potassium Chloride provided customers with a sodium-reduction technology that promised a clean label and cost-effective benefits along with consistent manufacturing results.

Exhibitors also showcased prominent ingredient offerings for reducing sugar and fat. Spice companies and ingredient blenders led the way with multiple offerings that often combined several ingredients in one package to reduce sugar, fat and calories from existing formulations.

Expect to see these trends dominate food ingredient marketing during the remainder of 2012. As in year’s past, the annual IFT show will set the major trends in marketing and communications for the year ahead.

Celebrity Chefs Rule at RCA

Celebrity chefs received widespread attention at the Research Chefs Association (RCA) 2012 Annual Conference and Culinology Expo in San Antonio. Throughout the conference, the chefs showed just how much their influence has grown in the development and formulation of processed food products from the major manufacturers. This was evident at the Expo, where well over 100 food ingredient companies pitched their products to corporate chefs from major customer companies such as Kraft, Kellogg, Unilever and Nestle.

Chef-John-BeshThe chefs were also featured at numerous private events held throughout the city’s bustling restaurant district. The one that seemed to have the most buzz starred celebrity TV chef and restaurateur, John Besh, at his popular restaurant,Lüke, on the San Antonio River Walk. Sponsored by Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings and ConAgra Mills, the event featured a delicious menu of small plate items prepared with ingredients, spices and flavors provided by the sponsors to the chef’s team. One popular item was Spicy Bam Bam Shrimp in a tempura batter made with Ultragrain® White Whole Wheat Flour and a Spicetec seasoning blend of Sriracha and vinegar flavors. The menu drew rave reviews, and guests were excited to talk serious food with Chef Besh and his team.

One of our favorite chefs every year at RCA is Chef Robert Danhi. Chef Danhi got his share of buzz for his great new cookbook, “Easy Thai Cooking,” featuring family-style dishes easily prepared at home. The book and companion video are available on Chef Danhi’s website.

Chef Gerri Bouchard, the corporate research chef for Eatem Foods, also drew a lot of attention for her innovative flavor systems. Food application samples featuring those flavor systems included an intriguing Pho Bo with cilantro, jalapeno and Thai basil.

Corporate chefs, research chefs and their product development colleagues will continue to be a major influence on the formulation and development of new processed food products. Expect to see food ingredient marketers focus even more of their efforts on chefs in the future.

Use Multiple Publishing Platforms to Communicate Your Message

MalaysiavirgoOur food ingredient team has previously blogged about email blasts being sent from the Sosland Publishing platform. We’d also like to showcase this Malaysia Palm Oil Solution Center email blast sent by the VIRGO Publishing platform. This e-mail, sponsored by The Malaysian Palm Oil Council, promotes a landing page (designed by VIRGO) and contains facts, links, slideshows and videos on this important vegetable oil.

While there are various food ingredient publishers out there, it’s important to remember them all when communicating your message. Using different publisher platforms when it comes time to blast your email, often means distributing your information to different and additional audiences. Reaching your readers by utilizing different e-mail lists can mean extended reach for your company. It’s just as important as utilizing different marketing tactics in order to get your message heard!

Baking Buyer Email Blast Stars California Raisins

BBuyer

We recently received the latest email blast from bakingbuyer.com, which focuses on Discovering America’s Bakeries. Sponsored by the California Raisin Marketing Board, Baking Buyer provides a weekly look at bakers across the U.S., highlighting their success stories and business insights.

This latest email features a visit to the historic Graeter’s Bakery in Cincinnati, and includes a video, discussing their need for consistent branding and the processes they took to revitalize the marketing centered around their bakery.

The remainder of the email blast showcases baking news, specifically including a three-part video series informing viewers on a new product from the California Raisin Marketing Board. These product demonstrations, filmed with a chef, show all of the necessary steps for making breakfast bread.

This email is another unique way to reach customers and also provide a direct path back to your company’s website. It also provides a very interactive experience for the reader, via the high-quality and informative selection of videos.

Food Ingredient Companies Offer Thanksgiving Leftover Solutions

Thanksgiving may have come and gone, but chances are, your fridge is still full of turkey and side dishes from the big day. ConAgra Foods is quick to offer ideas on how to serve up your turkey day leftovers in their recent ReadySetEat email blast.

ReadySetEat

This helpful email blast contains recipes such as turkey sloppy joes, turkey and stuffing enchiladas, turkey frittata, and turkey taco soup. All recipes clearly display the prep time, number of ingredients and total cook time. Recipe links click straight to a page displaying a delicious photo of the completed meal, ratings by other viewers, nutrition information, directions and the ability to print the recipe or email it to friends.

In addition to these Thanksgiving meal ideas, ConAgra Foods offers a link to their ReadySetEat mobile site, where visitors can select their favorite ingredients and get relevant recipes and also find locations that offer the best sale prices on those specific ingredients.

And if you’ve had your fill of Thanksgiving leftovers, ConAgra Foods even offers a $1 off coupon for their new Healthy Choice Top Chef-inspired Café Steamers®.

Another food ingredient company, King Arthur Flour, distributed a Thanksgiving email blast that also offers three ways to repurpose your turkey leftovers.

King Arthur Email

This email blast shows readers how to make turkey tetrazzini, turkey chili hand pies and turkey dumplings. Each food feature showcases a photo of the completed dish, links to the complete recipe and a blog link that sends the reader to a post capturing step-by-step photos and instructions from a King Arthur blogger or baker.

King Arthur Flour and ConAgra Foods have both provided smart, timely and informative email campaigns that capitalize on the Thanksgiving food and innovative leftover meal ideas that so many of us are looking for.

Customizing Ingredients Becomes the Norm – UPDATE

ingredientsOne of the most persistent marketing themes that we heard at food ingredient trade shows this year was some form of “we customize our ingredients to our customers’ needs.” While this is true for most big ingredient companies, it is no longer very unique and the position no longer differentiates an ingredient company from its competition. In fact, when some ingredient companies say “what makes us different is we customize our products”, the statement has little credibility with customers.

Last spring we wrote a blog post where we reviewed a featured article from FoodProcessing.com, headlined “Ingredient Suppliers Specializing in Customer Mixes of Ingredients.” We heard from quite a few different ingredient manufacturers and marketers saying that they make customized application-specific ingredients for their customers. Many used some form of customized ingredients as a banner in their trade show booths and materials. It is clearly something that customers in the industry have come to expect.

The president of a billion dollar ingredient manufacturer talked to us at length about their efforts in providing customization to their customers. For decades, this company has been blending customized product mixes for customer companies. It’s not just the product customizations that matter. Customizing services are just as important. Indeed, the major ingredient manufacturers are devoting significant resources to delivering customer-specific solutions and programs in areas ranging from transportation and delivery, to inventory control and risk management systems, to customized product packaging.

As is always the case, this marketing theme ends up being all about the customer. Thinking outside the box and delivering enterprise-wide customized services, alongside application specific customized ingredients, can deliver the kind of customer value that creates the very best marketing position.

Reprinted below is our original post on the subject. What are your thoughts on ingredient customization?

Originally posted May 4, 2011

Author: Mark Hughes

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A recent FoodProcessing.com feature was headlined “Ingredient Suppliers Specializing in Custom Mixes of Ingredients.” The article described how many ingredient suppliers have begun to focus on creating customized ingredient blends and mixes for specific customer applications. We have seen and heard the same message from the ingredient manufacturers at the major trade shows over the last few months. Nearly every ingredient company we’ve talked to this year has touted the fact that they make customized application-specific ingredients for their customers, as if this made them unique or differentiated them from other ingredient marketers.

In fact, being able to provide customized ingredient products has become the expected norm in food manufacturing channels. Customer companies are demanding more support from their suppliers, and want resources and information that can help their products succeed. Ingredient suppliers are responding with marketing with an increased focus on their capabilities to provide application-specific ingredient products, mixes and blends.

“Custom ingredients” has almost become a generic term in the industry. Many ingredient suppliers have adopted the term into their corporate name, as well as their marketing. An example is Grande Custom Ingredients Group.

Many ingredient companies are focusing their customization message on individual food channels and category-specific applications, like dairy products. MCT Dairies offers formulated dairy and specialty ingredients, customized for manufacturing customers.

Several ingredient companies are using their customization capabilities to get customer R&D, product development and culinary executives engaged in working with their products. Companies are offering assistance and new online tools to help customers formulate custom ingredients for their specific product applications. Tate & Lyle has launched a new site, called “Your Food Systems,” that provides customers with resources to help support customization.

The focus on customization of ingredients will always be an important marketing message for food ingredient companies. Engagement with R&D and marketing departments will continue to be a key to long-term ingredient sales.

The Best Sodium-Reduction Ingredient Product? – UPDATE

salt

For the past year, sodium-reduction initiatives and sodium-replacement ingredient products have been one of the main trends in the food ingredient industry. Sales of these ingredients have expanded to significant commercial scale. Our blog posts on low-sodium ingredient trends have been the most viewed and most passionately commented upon, of any current industry trends.

In a February blog post, we identified links to a dozen different sodium-reduction ingredient products. Another post asked the question “What’s the best low-sodium or sodium reduction ingredient product?” In response, we have received dozens of product samples and ingredient company marketing presentations on a wide range of sodium-reduction products and solutions.

Most of these ingredient products are some form of modified potassium chloride with the modifiers masking the off-tastes of the chemical compounds replacing traditional uses of sodium chloride. Another large group continues to use sodium chloride, but modifies the molecule size and structure to increase “salty taste”, while reducing sodium content by using smaller amounts of the sodium chloride. Food Manufacturing customer companies report that they are most interested in application-specific solutions, and that “one size does not fit all” in food applications.

We also received dozens of product samples from various ingredient companies. Nearly all of them were delivered in plain plastic baggies, often with only minimum-printed labels and very little product information. A few that stood out had memorable sample product packaging that included company logos and strong brand identity, along with professional-looking marketing materials.

We see this low-sodium trend continuing in 2012 with the introduction of even more new sodium-reduction ingredient products continuing to crowd the market. Reprinted below is our original post on the subject. What do you think is the best low-sodium or sodium-reduction ingredient product?

Crowded Low-Sodium Ingredient Market Challenges Marketers
Originally posted February 28, 2011
Author: Mark Hughes

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In the face of increasing pressure from major world-wide health initiatives and looming regulation here in the U.S., food processors in manufacturing and food service have undertaken their own initiatives to reduce the sodium content of their products. Food ingredient marketers have created a wide range of low-sodium and sodium-replacement ingredient products designed to help their customers respond to that challenge. The result is a crowded U.S. marketplace with hundreds of different companies competing for attention.

The 2010 IFT show in Chicago featured over 150 new product announcements for sodium-replacement ingredient products and systems. That trend line is continuing to rise this year with the entry into the U.S. market of several global ingredient companies with new sodium-reduction products like Jungbunzlauer sub4salt, KaliSel potassium chloride and NaturePep from Korea, who gave us the bikini-clad saltshaker.

A common strategy among the ingredient marketers is to brand their low-sodium products with a premium-positioned trade brand name and logo in an effort to differentiate their products from dozens of others with similar properties or chemistry. An example is Cargill’s SaltWise sodium replacement product. Another major player, Danisco, offers a line of application-specific ingredients under its SaltPro brand with products targeted at bakery, cheese and dairy, processed meat and food service applications. Major ingredient suppliers have also added sodium reduction products to their larger portfolios like Wixon Ingredient Company with branded KCLean Salt.

Other new ingredient brands include Smart Salt and Nu-Tek Salt.

Flavor companies have been among the most aggressive ingredient marketers presenting a variety of sodium-reduction solutions built into the flavoring systems they already produce for their customers. Leading flavor companies that have introduced major new low-sodium offerings include Savoury Systems Organic Salt Replacer, Griffith Laboratory’s Custom Culinary and Givaudan’s TasteSoultions Salt.

The trend to lower sodium in processed foods will continue to grow and get even bigger over the next two years. Make sure your low-sodium ingredient products stand out of the crowded ingredient marketplace. Look for our follow-up post on how food ingredient companies can successfully face the challenge of cutting through the clutter in an already-crowded marketplace.

BakeMark E-zine Showcases Rockin’ Bakers

Anderson Partners Food Ingredients has previously highlighted BakeMark’s advertising tactics, and we were excited to receive an email invitation to view BakeMark’s latest edition of their digital magazine, Bakin’ n Rockin’.

bakinrockin

The playful email blast provides an all-access link to BakeMark’s latest e-zine, which spotlights one influential baker, showcases their creations and offers a brief business background. The e-zine also contains features on production ideas, merchandising tips and product trends.

This monthly online publication has a great playful spin, draws readers to the content and even contains animation that helps make for an interesting, interactive read. This tactic is a great way to give customers the spotlight, while encouraging readers to discover more about the industry or stay in tune with the latest production information. We give BakeMark a standing ovation!

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