With me on the podcast today are Ingredion’s Ramesh Thiyagarajan, Carolyn Phillips, and Kelly D'Amico. In this episode, we're talking about a new program Ingredion is rolling out called 360 Value. In fact, this podcast might be the very first time you're hearing about it. Listen in over the next 15 minutes as we talk about what 360 Value is, why it's important, and how it benefits food manufacturers and the consumers they serve.
Within this episode, we take a deeper dive into consumer insights including topics such as health benefits, well-being, sustainability, and value. We also discuss how Ingredion helps its customers deliver environmentally-friendly products as well as what the company can do to help processors reduce costs or to be more profitable.
Erin: Carolyn, Ramesh, Kelly, welcome to this special episode of the Food For Thought Podcast. I am excited to have you all on the podcast with me today because I have heard, from one of my sources, that Ingredion is introducing a new concept called 360 Value. Are you able to talk to me and our audience about that? What is 360 Value?
Ingredion is a global ingredients solutions company. Based in Westchester, Illinois, they make sweeteners, starches, nutrition ingredients and biomaterials that are used by customers in everyday products from foods and beverages to paper and pharmaceuticals. Learn more at ingredion.com
Ramesh: Thanks, Erin. Happy to share more. So, 360 Value, is a new way of engaging with our customers more strategically, to strive bigger and better mutual wins. It really enabled us to bring the power of one Ingredion to our customers because this now crosses our core business, specialties, growth platforms, and our industrial solutions teams. It's really a holistic value proposition and a new way of working, as an extension of our customers' teams to elevate our strategic partnership and to help deliver deeper value to them, and also for their retail partners, consumers, and society, as a whole.
Erin: Tell me, what does 360 Value look like in terms of what it delivers to customers or consumers?
Ramesh: Great question, Erin. So, in 2020, our program was called Affordability. It really needed fresh insight to expand its relevance and impact for our customers.
We embarked on a very robust voice and customer research study, both quantitative and qualitative. And, especially in light of the pandemic last year, it revealed that our customers are looking to cost management as much broader than just ingredient replacement, which was typically where our Affordability program had rested. Our customers are looking for a much more holistic value delivery that ranges from energy reduction and waste reduction to yield and process improvement.
Based on those insights, we've shaped 360 Value as an evolution of Affordability that is insight-driven and validated with our customers. It's founded in three purpose-led dimensions of value creation. The first is profit, the second is consumer wellbeing, and the third is environmental footprint. And as we collaborate with our customers on these types of projects, we've got to deliver at least two dimensions of that value creation. It's got to be profit, plus, either consumer wellbeing or environmental footprint, at the very least. And the trifecta would be all three.
Erin: I want to pivot for a second and talk about consumers, or end-users, for a bit. Talk to me about what your research has found, in terms of what consumers are looking for, in terms of health benefits.
Carolyn: There is a growing interest in preventative health, in large part, due to the pandemic. In the U.S., this is driving consumer interest in food and beverage products that support overall health, that bolster immunity, and that support digestive health, which is linked to immunity. Consumers also continue to want food and beverages that are a good source of protein and fiber, and they want all-natural products with less sugar.
Erin: Can you talk to me about what consumers are looking for, in terms of sustainability?
Carolyn: Sustainability is a complex issue. And we've identified different aspects of sustainability, including transparency, reducing waste, and safeguarding the welfare of humans, animals, and the planet.
Guest Profile: Carolyn Phillips
At Ingredion, Carolyn leads the Insights function for North America, partnering with the marketing and strategy teams to build Ingredion’s knowledge and expertise about the markets we serve with an emphasis on the consumer.
The desire for transparency has expanded clean label beyond a health focus. Beyond the clean, and simple, and natural ingredient call out to include environmental and ethical aspects. We anticipate an increasing amount of food and beverage packaging to call out things like sourcing information, use of recycled and recyclable materials, and reduced waste claims on front-of-pack and back-of-pack. And we also expect more brands to mention on-pack, their involvement in human and animal causes.
Erin: One more question I have about consumers. What have you found consumers looking for in terms of value?
Carolyn: In terms of value, a rather large majority of consumers in the U.S. had sought lower prices during the COVID period, as compared to pre-pandemic. Almost all consumers buy on sale, at least some of the time, and about 3 in 10 consumers indicated having shopped at more discount retailers during the crisis.
Now, despite the desire for lower prices and cost savings, consumers are willing to pay more for specific benefits. And these benefits include things such as flavor indulgence, taste that they like, convenience, experiences similar to restaurants.
And there are differences by category. Consumers seek out certain categories for convenience, while others are consumed or purchased for associations with health and wellness. So that's really what we're seeing with consumers at this point.
Guest Profile: Kelly D’Amico
Kelly D’Amico is a Senior Technologist on the Ingredion Technical Service team. She has been with the company for over three years and has worked on various teams serving customers on both the Key and National Accounts and Distributor customers.
Erin: Talk about consumer well-being in terms of, is there something Ingredion can do to help from the consumer well-being aspect?
Kelly: Absolutely. We want to offer consumers the ability to indulge with inclusivity. We offer a number of different products that appeal to a few different consumer diets, such as gluten-free, reduced sugar or sugar-free, and plant-based proteins. We have fibers in our portfolio that can help support digestive health. We have clinical studies to show that two of our products are prebiotic fibers and have been shown to support digestive health. In addition, one product has been shown in a clinical study to reduce the duration of cold and flu symptoms in healthy adults.
We have a number of different tools that can add nutrition, such as plant-based protein, and we are beginning to extend our offerings in the clean and simple solutions, as well as the organic nutrition space. We have the capabilities to reduce sugar and get parity with functional build-back tools, and we're continuing to expand our knowledge in the consumer wellbeing space through research and technical developments.
Erin: I want to hop really quick, or rather, circle back, and talk about customers, your customers. How does Ingredion help its customers deliver environmentally-friendly products for retailers and the end consumers?
Guest Profile: Ramesh Thiyagarajan
As Director of Marketing and Digital Communications in the US and Canada, Ramesh Thiyagarajan leads the Marketing and Digital Communications team to create and manage marketing and digital strategies and execute integrated marketing plans for the region.
Kelly: That's a great question, Erin. There’re a few ways that we can support our customers' environmental claims. We can help increase the quality of certain products with various tools in our toolbox that can help reduce food waste, such as breakage reduction, increased quality. And we also know that we can use plant-based protein to reduce our carbon footprint.
In our review of the literature, we know that a meal made with pulse-based proteins and/or flours is associated with eight-times-lower greenhouse gas emissions than a beef-based meal. Additionally, we have a technical service team that can help support with process efficiencies, that can save time, money, and energy. We provide bio-based ingredients from renewable resources that can help deliver environmentally-friendly packaging solutions.
Erin: How about cost? Is there a type of ingredient that can help customers reduce cost? Or, to put it another way, is there something Ingredion can do to help reduce cost or to be more profitable?
Kelly: That's a great question as well. As Ramesh mentioned earlier, we know that it's not only the cost of ingredients that our customers are concerned about. We have tools that can help improve the quality, such as exemplary cold temperature stability. We also have ingredients that save money, and it's really paired with our extensive portfolio and technical expertise that can help bring speed to market through correct product recommendations. We can provide process efficiencies in production for process improvement, and we can also allow customers to utilize our pilot plant facility, which can reduce downtime in a customer's production while still testing the viability of scale-up.
Erin: One last question. If someone listening wanted to learn, or, wanted to learn more about 360 Value, how could they go about it?
Ramesh: Well, Erin, that's a great question. And I think that folks out there who want to learn more about 360 Value, we'd encourage them to connect with us at Ingredion, through either their dedicated sales or technical service representatives…or connect with us via the chat box on Ingredion.com.
Erin: Ramesh, Carolyn, Kelly, thank you so much for joining me today on this special bonus episode of the Food For Thought Podcast.