WESTCHESTER, ILL. — Ingredion, Inc. has evolved over the past five years by investing in areas like plant-based proteins and stevia-based sweeteners. Future growth could come in Europe, South America and Asia geographically and in flavors categorically.
“We want to diversify beyond just North America,” said James P. Zallie, president and chief executive officer, in the company’s June 2 investor day. “We have a tremendous position in Mexico. We’ve got a nice position in Canada, and we’ve got a solid position in the United States, but we’d love to grow more in Asia Pacific.
“Our plant-based proteins platform, for example, we have the investments we’ve made in Canada and now in Nebraska, but we’d love to be able to expand our plant-based proteins, capabilities and investments in Europe, in South America and in Asia. We see opportunities. The vision that we have for plant-based proteins is that this will be a sustainable long-term trend and sizable category that will be global in scope, and we’re looking actively at M&A to expand globally there.”
Investing in flavors could benefit the categories of plant-based proteins and sugar reduction, he said.
“So just being a stevia supplier limits potentially the value capture in offering a holistic sugar reduction solution,” Mr. Zallie said. “So we recognize that, and those two areas, I think we have a right to win with the right bolt-on capabilities.”
Westchester-based Ingredion over the past five years has invested $250 million in plant-based proteins and acquired 75% of PureCircle, Inc., a supplier of stevia-based sweeteners.
“When you consider who we were four or five years ago and who we are today, we were a starch supplier and a caloric sweetener supplier,” Mr. Zallie said. “So when a company was developing a new product, they probably would think of our ingredients later in the formulation process, not necessarily up front as part of the brief to affect the differentiation on label, on a front-of-pack claim.”
He gave plant-based ice cream alternatives as an example.
“Back then, we could probably supply the corn syrup that went into the ice cream,” Mr. Zallie said. “We couldn’t supply the mouthfeel enhancement. We couldn’t supply the ice crystal stabilization. We couldn’t supply the plant-based dairy protein. We couldn’t supply the high-intensity natural sweetener.”
That scenario is no longer the case.
“So we’re not thought of any more as a passive afterthought by customers,” Mr. Zallie said. “We’re considered up front to enable a new value proposition that they want to feature to their consumer. That’s happening in stevia. That’s happening in plant-based. That’s happening in texture. That’s happening in clean label. They’re coming to us because they have a concept, and we’re co-creating and that’s how we’re creating value for customers.”
Mr. Zallie added the company is looking at its carbon dioxide footprint and its greenhouse gas emissions footprint.“So we’re working and partnering with a company right now to validate and certify our ingredients,” he said.