olam food ingredients’ exec details rebrand strategy predicting growth in naturality and ingredient heritage
The company is focused on meeting the growing consumer demand for natural, healthy, and sustainably sourced cocoa, coffee, dairy, nuts and spice products
21 Oct 2021 --- olam food ingredients (ofi) has revealed a new brand that taps into the boom in demand for sustainably sourced ingredients and natural, healthy products. Speaking to FoodIngredientFirst, Kamesh Ellajosyula, chief innovation and quality officer, says consumers want new products that “excite the senses.”
Brought to life in ofi’s recent ad and dedicated website, the company asserts that the brand is more than just a new look.
It further underscores ofi’s efforts to shake up the market with ingredients that help food and beverage companies meet the growing consumer demand for natural, healthy, and sustainably sourced cocoa, coffee, dairy, nuts and spice products.
Knowing more about a product’s origins
Consumers today want to know more about where their food comes from and how it is made.
These trends were prevalent before COVID-19, but the pandemic has intensified demand for foods that support mental and physical well-being, continues Ellajosyula, whether that’s healthier snacks, functional foods, plant-based proteins or the occasional indulgent treat.
“The market must adapt to the new consumers of today, but this can be a challenge. A company may be able to deliver on flavor and texture, but not have a positive narrative on the benefits received by the farmers to share with consumers?”
“That’s why we are innovating across the length and breadth of our value chain to help our customers respond to these trends and deliver ingredients and products that are more both innovative and sustainable,” he explains.
Strong origination and supply chain heritage
According to Ellajosyula, the rebrand will carry forward the strong origination and supply chain heritage of Olam but with a new and distinct proposition.
“ofi brings together five of our leading ingredients businesses under one new operating group to simplify and focus our portfolio and help our customers to respond to the rapidly changing consumer preferences.”
“It means we will be bringing together products and expertise from across the entire ofi portfolio, and combining them with deep category, customer and consumer insight, to co-create new products – from plant-based chocolate milk alternatives to a nut-based jalapeno spiced cheese,” he details.
At the farm level, ofi is innovating its approach to sustainability – providing customers with a pathway to drive tangible change in farming communities.
Ellajosyula says this innovation is both practical, like using data to deliver training tailored to individual farmers, and disruptive, like discovering entirely new ways farmers can use, market and monetize their crop – for example, by turning cashew apples or the pulp of the coffee cherry into new and desirable products.
Positively impacting the environment
Agriculture faces some of the world’s biggest developmental, economic, and environmental challenges, which need to be resolved in the next decade to keep feeding the world’s growing population responsibly.
At the same time, there is growing consumer demand for products that positively impact people and the planet. “This is what’s behind our new company purpose: be the change for good food and a healthy future, which includes supporting farmers and communities and protecting our planet,” he affirms.
ofi is innovating across its supply chains to deliver a positive impact at scale in the places where its sources, grows and processes its products.
“We have dedicated sustainability strategies and goals for our direct global cocoa, coffee and cashew supply chains, as well as our Russian dairy farming operations. So if a customer wants to launch a new snack bar, they can make it with cashews where women are being supported in Cote d’Ivoire, flavored with a hint of spice where we might have clean water and sanitation programs underway in India,” notes Ellajosyula.
OFI states it is also increasingly helping its customers to fast track their journey toward net-zero goals by working closely with smallholder farmers and communities across the chain on specific reduction programs.
The supplier’s AtSource platform provides customers with a single view of their supply chain, giving them the tools and data to understand and report their environmental and social impact, including carbon and water footprinting, which supports their sustainability reporting and informs meaningful action.
Commenting on Innova Market Insights Top Trend for 2022, “Shared Planet,” Ellajosyula says it doesn’t surprise him that this trend was crowned the winner for the forthcoming year.
“We’re seeing growing demand for traceable, sustainable products as consumers want to know where their food comes from and what social and environmental impact it has had on its journey. But health and wellness trends remain important too – consumers want products that are good in every sense.”
To keep pace, food and drink companies must adapt to these trends, and we are innovating across every part of our business to help them do it, he adds.
“For example, by turning waste cascara into a new superfruit to help farmers reduce waste and retain more value from their crop, and help customers to meet the demand for on-trend, sustainable and healthy products.”
Looking ahead to 2022, OFI’s focus will remain on making its value proposition real for customers.
“Ongoing investments in application development and R&D expertise will unleash the full natural potential of our highly complementary portfolio. For example, we’ll be opening a Chicago Customer Solutions Center before the end of the year and a new European center in 2022,” Ellajosyula continues.
“At the farm level, we will continue to invest further to deepen the physical and digital presence in sustainable sourcing that we are already well known for. And we’ll be announcing our first formal sustainability targets for our hazelnut, almond and spices supply chains.”
Briony Mathieson, chief marketing officer, who along with her team, led the development of the new brand, says: “The new brand helps us deliver on three critical areas: giving greater clarity about all how we can support our customers’ growth; unifying and inspiring the ofi team to keep innovating across the business to create more customer value, and helping all other stakeholders and civil society to understand better the role we play on the ground in delivering various sustainability programs and catalyzing real impact.”
“We believe that no company can do it alone, and we want the new brand and purpose to convey our continuing commitment to collaborate with others to scale that impact – and together, we can make it real.”
Earlier this week, ofi and Nespresso joined the Gorilla Coffee Alliance, to regenerate coffee production in war-torn DCR.
By Elizabeth Green
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