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IFT Online Tools Generate Buzz for Ingredient Marketers

IFT 2The 2010 IFT show in Chicago presented its widest range of online tools yet, providing attendees with multiple opportunities to connect and communicate. Savvy food ingredient marketers took advantage of the IFT online presence to promote their show offerings, and drive traffic to their booths.

In a previous blog post we reviewed the IFT’s tools that helped attendees prepare a personalized show guide and send e-mail meeting invitations to exhibitors and other participants. Several major food ingredient companies told me that they had received multiple meeting requests from the ChripEvite e-mail tool.

In addition to the preshow planning tools, IFT offered a full suite of social media sites where attendees could post information, comment on presentations and exhibits, and communicate with one another. The integrated social media platform included sites on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and LinkedIn. The LinkedIn discussion group included over 3,700 members who actively posted and discussed their IFT experiences.  A steady stream of Twitter posts and Flickr photos was prominently displayed on a large video screen kiosk just outside the main entrance.

Several food ingredient companies took advantage of IFT’s online platform to actively promote their presence at the show. Companies announced giveaways and demonstrations taking place at their booths. There were also multiple posts with announcements on new products and ingredient applications that provided links to additional content and information. Prominent ingredient marketers using the tools included National Starch, Monsanto, Innova and David Michael & Co.

All of these tools and examples of food ingredient company activity can be accessed through the IFT portal site.

Sargento Site Offers Customers New Idea Center

sargentoWhen it comes to customizing products, Sargento takes the … cheese. Sargento Food Ingredients offers customers a way to create customized products in its Food Ingredients Idea Center. “You bring the idea; they supply the ingredients.” Choose a product category, such as cheese, sauce or filling, and then mix and match flavors of your choice. It even offers “Better for You” ingredients, so you can concoct a healthier option. Once you’ve chosen flavors, select delivery options, including size and packaging. Whether you have something in mind or the options help you come up with something new, meal kits have never been so easily customizable.

Communications for Sustainability Programs

Sustainability programs and eco-friendly initiatives are gaining traction at many major food ingredient companies. The reason for the growing attention can be traced to the success of high-profile programs like Wal-Mart’s “Sustainability 360” program that reduced packaging and shipping costs $2.4 million last year; or Nestle Waters Arrowhead and Poland Springs bottled-water brands that reduced plastic use by 15%, while reducing manufacturing and shipping costs.

Several food ingredient companies have told me that they have started cross-functional, multidisciplinary teams to develop sustainability initiatives. Marketing communication managers at Monsanto, and at sister company Solae, were recently assigned senior roles on their company’s sustainability teams and were tasked with communicating new programs to various stakeholder and customer audiences.

ADM recently published its first corporate responsibility report including an overview of the “Doing It Right” sustainability initiative. A press release on the report got coverage in the food ingredient trade magazines and offered a direct link to the complete report on-line.

I fully expect that the food ingredient channel will see a sharp increase over the first half of 2010 in communications campaigns supporting new sustainability programs. Industry marcom execs will be challenged to expand their communications to a wider variety of internal and external audiences including stakeholders, customers and consumers. Food ingredient companies will need to consider more comprehensive communications plans that integrate multiple tactics including trade news coverage, advertising, social networks, e-mail marketing, partnerships and more.

For additional information on corporate sustainability initiatives, check out the white paper from Korn/Ferry International.

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