Producing food is complex and the industry is evolving fast
Food and ingredients manufacturers have seen profound changes in food and beverage formulation. There are a number of pressures fuelling profound changes in how our food is made. Consumers too are ever demanding as they to transform what they buy and how they eat with one eye on their impact on the planet. In addition, there are cost and supply chain pressures alongside go-to market pressures.
It’s a tough ask but one that has to be fulfilled
The complexity stems from consumers wanting their favourite products to be exactly the same as they have been traditionally without being environmentally damaging or being unhealthy. There is a real desire for clean labelling and also justifying production costs by producing food that is nutritious and affordable. There are so many considerations resting in that sentence, not least the reformulation of many foods we know and love. Also, some of the aims and objectives compete with one another. Added to this consumer pressure is considerable as producers try to combine affordability with a cleaner and more environmental food supply system. It’s a tough ask but one that has to happen.
There are opportunities and challenges in equal measure
Mind you that’s not a reason to eschew the excitement around food and beverage production at this time. There are many disruptors within the wider industry, and they have kickstarted many changes. Yet we should bear in mind the beleaguered supply chain which has been also severely disrupted alongside other environmental considerations. However, many ingredient suppliers are working extraordinarily hard to come up with solutions that will overcome any challenges in reformulation. This means product developers have more options and opportunities than ever before.
We are living through the 4th industrial revolution
This means change is rapid and opportunities are varied and also come along swiftly. It is incredible to see the huge number of ingredient options product developers can now use. I personally work with one of the largest fragrance and taste companies in the world and their products are game changing. However, we all know that too much variety can be overwhelming. Many companies have found that R&D departments can almost be paralysed by the amount of testing these brand-new combinations require.
Sugar and salt are our current nemeses
If you are wondering what some of the biggest challenges are at present salt and sugar reduction top the list. We are all searching for more umami without guilt. I’m sure many of you will have tried new products and undergone the disappointment of a bland tasting experience. After all, for many hundreds of years salt has been our daily seasoning. Although very expensive in history it is now ubiquitous and an inexpensive functional ingredient that all food producers need to work extremely hard to replicate.
Interestingly MSG is now being used
In the battle to reduce sodium in food MSG works well. For those old enough to remember, MSG experienced very bad rep in the 1960s and was considered bad for health. But there have been a number of significant studies to demonstrate that MSG has the ability to reduce sodium. It’s now once more in demand.
We love umami
This is especially significant for plant-based meat production. It may have a healthier reputation but the challenge of creating a comparable flavour with meat often means using a number of seasonings including salt. Therefore, MSG will play an increasing part alongside yeast and yeast extracts to deliver the umami we look for in a product. What we don’t want our plant-based foods using too much sodium.
The other biggie is the reduction of sugar.
We are probably all aware of jus
t how much additional sugar we consume every day. With diabetes growing across the world regulators, consumers and health organisations are all lobbying for less sugar in every product. We are all aware that processed foods and carbonated drinks especially contribute significantly to sugar consumption. It appears we have an addiction to anything sweet therefore formulation is always going to be a complex procedure. At the moment aspartame is a key contender, Advantim is another, alongside other sweeteners derived from the stevia plant. All of these are capable of delivering a sugar reduction without changing taste too dramatically.
Ketchup, but not as we know it
Whatever our opinion regarding MSG or Stevia-based sweeteners we are all looking for tastes we love and crave. Kraft Heinz Tomato Ketchup has been experimenting over time with the reformulation of salt and sugar in its sauce. There are now three versions of the iconic table seasoning available to customers. It will be interesting to see which formulation will eventually represent the future taste of this ketchup for the next 50 years.
As an executive recruiter in the food and ingredients sector the roles available are also changing rapidly. R&D departments now function within an increasingly complex era. Highly qualified scientists are finding challenging and exciting roles in a range of companies that didn’t even exist a decade ago.
High level appointments will drive profound change within the industry
Innovation alongside experienced market knowledge, collaboration, agility, and managed risk are keys to success in these new environments. Meyrick Consulting is currently working with perfume and taste companies, clean label designers and suppliers of clean label starches, flours, fibres, and proteins alongside bio tech companies using fermentation to create the next generation of sustainable foods from mushroom roots. I am amazed at the breadth and depth of the food and ingredients sector and feel very privileged to be helping to place high level appointments that will continue to drive profound change within the industry.
If you are looking to fill key positions and would like to chat about how we might help you please do reach out. We’d love to know more about your challenges and requirements.