February 1, 2004
The Flavor of Success
When asked what makes Edlong Dairy Flavors unique, Eric Johnson, Vice President of Research and Development responds, “discipline.” During its first 85 years in business, Edlong earned a reputation for its broad array of flavors to the food industry, even though its core competency always lay in the dairy area. Reflecting this characteristic, Edlong has recently embraced its strengths and focused completely on concentrated dairy flavors. The early results are noteworthy.
“In a marketplace fixated on broadening offerings,” Johnson says, “we feel focus is the best way to differentiate ourselves. Becoming an expert in one area is the alternative to being competent in many and competence just isn’t enough any longer.”
Edlong is now celebrating its 90th year in business and yet with over 50 butter flavors, 150 cheese flavors and 60 other dairy profiled flavors, it’s hard to imagine not being able to find the dairy taste profile a customer might need. Nevertheless, even though producing stock flavor profiles can be very efficient, Edlong prefers to develop customized product solutions in partnership with its clients. Edlong’s researchers feel that the process of working with a client gives them the extra time to provide a profile that could set that a client apart in their marketplace. The product longevity that can come from this approach benefits both partners.
Edlong is also very consultative during customer interface. “We want to gain the client’s trust as a partner committed to their success. Working that closely, we begin to see benefits that would not have occurred in traditional sales approaches. We become teammates, almost an internal department, engaged in helping the customer succeed. In fact, we fully understand that our success entirely depends on our customer’s success.”
Edlong has long realized that producing concentrated flavors can help food manufacturers attain success in several different ways: cost reduction, customization, batch standardization, profile uniqueness, stability under abusive conditions and value addition to commodity-type ingredients and end products. Edlong’s task is to so fully understand each client’s unique needs and circumstances that the two companies, working in tandem, can produce a winning strategy — a partnership based on mutual success.
Seasoned with Care
Not unnaturally, Kerry Ingredients has always prided itself on its willingness to invest in developing cutting-edge seasoning products. For example, the company was among the first to take a leadership role in the blending arena. A result was the decision to expand its blending production capacity by building a $3 million plant in Sturtevant, Wis. At full capacity, Kerry can blend a mixture of 3,500 lbs. of seasonings in a single batch.
With this expansion behind it, Kerry has gone on to tackle other ingredient issues, always with the intention of ultimately making its food industry customers’ lives easier.
One of the hottest ingredient issues right now is the low-carb trend. “Snack manufacturers are definitely looking at low carb ingredients as an alternative to regular ingredients,” says Dennis Fechheim, Kerry Ingredients’ business director for snack seasonings “We’re working with a number of snack food manufacturers to produce low-carb seasoning alternatives.”
Developing a low-carb base is one thing. The challenge, as Fechheim sees it, is to make it taste good. “We’re developing cleaner, more effective ingredients that could go into a low-carb base that would improve the flavor,” Fechheim explains.
Such research can’t be rushed, though. In the meantime, Kerry is working on a growing list of low-carb projects, expecting that there’ll soon be an explosion of low-carb products hitting the market in the very near future.
Another area Kerry has taken a close interest in is the natural and organic category. “This is growing at 20% per year,” Fechheim points out, and will keep growing as consumers worry about actual or perceived health problems connected with traditional food production. Kerry’s Pacific Line of Seasonings represent a natural and organic response to manufacturers’ requirement that their seasoning ingredients have a natural flavor and color and contain no preservatives.
“Consumers are demanding healthier, better-for-you products,” Fechheim makes clear. “We continue to work with manufacturers to produce the highest-quality ingredients that meet those demands.”