Trade houses are getting increasingly involved – and competitive – in helping their clients use their ingredients for new products or to reformulate existing ones. Cargill, for instance, opened a new Culinary Experience Hub at its R&D center in Belgium. An official from ADM’s Wild Flavours branch said the group was also working on helping companies formulate products and bringing them to market fast enough to capitalise on new trends. The new products tend to have an increasingly short life span, he said. In Thailand, ADM’s Human Nutrition is launching a plant-based high protein drink as an alternative to dairy.
Tate & Lyle, too, opened a new headquarters in Brazil’s Sao Paulo to help customers in South America with product formulations. The company wants to capitalise on upcoming legislation in Peru and Chile that will require clearer labels on packaging. The company reported adjusted operating profits of GBP 183 million (USD 234 million) for the Apr-Sep period, up 3% on year, thanks to a good performance from speciality ingredients and a 43% growth in natural sweetener sales.
One ingredient that Nestle is trying to cash in on is microalgae – it is vegan, healthy and has a low carbon footprint. The company has partnered with the Dutch ingredients group Corbion to incorporate microalgae-based ingredients into plant-based products whilst maintaining a palatable taste.
The craze for plant-based alternatives is far from over, with Burger King announcing the Rebel Whopper burger, its biggest product launch in Europe. The vegetarian burger will be the same price as its meat alternative, unlike in the US where it is usually more expensive. Its other plant-based burger, the Impossible Whopper, was one of the chain’s most successful launches.
Food supplements were among the most popular products sold during Alibaba’s Singles’ Day this week, which saw a record CNY 268 billion (USD 38 billion) in sales, six times more than Black Friday sales in the US. Local analysts pointed out, however, that the sales growth dropped to a 5-year low of 26% as Chinese consumers are reducing their spending amid a slowing economy.
Mondelez, meanwhile, is looking at capitalising on current health trends by increasing the share of so-called “portion-controlled packs” by 2025 to 20%, from 15% currently. These are packs with 200 calories or less. A survey it commissioned found that people, especially Millennials, were increasingly snacking throughout the day instead of eating bigger meals. At the same time, however, the company continues to see demand for more indulgent snacks.
The Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) had its first board meeting this week. The coalition includes giants such as Unilever and Mars and more recently Michelin. It has raised USD 1.4 billion for its initiatives that focus on fighting inequality, such as supporting small farmers to boost yields. The CEO of Danone, which is leading the initiative, said companies needed to change the way they do business. The head of Olam took it one step further and argued that businesses must stop blaming governments and the lack of regulation. He called on food companies to make their ecological footprint public as a starting point for real change to happen.
One company walking the talk is McDonald’s, analysts said. The group will be buying enough renewable energy in Texas to power some 2,500 stores and reduce emissions by 700,000mt of greenhouse gas. This is part of their target to reduce emissions by 36% by 2030. In India, meanwhile, Nestle said it had collected and disposed of enough plastic to make its KitKat and Maggi brands plastic-neutral by the end of the year.
Last but not least, Wilmar International saw a net profit of USD 447 million in the Jun-Sep quarter, up from USD 406 million last year and beating market expectations thanks to a 24% growth in its tropical oil business. It also benefited from discontinued operations in Brazil while the sugar division saw a pre-tax profit of USD 80 million, up 9% on year. Louis Dreyfus’ Brazilian sugarcane business Biosev didn’t do so well. The company reported a loss of BRL 304 million (USD 73 million) in the last quarter, nearly twice as high as in the same period last year, due in part to BRL 339 million (USD 81 million) spent on servicing its debt which was affected by the weaker Real.
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