Kerry Group showcases broad ingredient portfolio and sustainability at SupplySide West 2021

As the company approaches its 50th anniversary, this year’s SupplySide West was an opportunity to showcase all that it has to offer, and how much the brand has grown since its beginnings as a dairy company.

Over the last few years, Kerry Group has been hard at work expanding its portfolio of ingredients to better accommodate the needs of its customers. By leverage its existing capabilities in taste alongside its portfolio of proteins, probiotics, and immune health ingredients, Kerry has been able to make a huge impact in the functional food and beverage space. At the same time, however, Kerry sees the value of traditional dietary supplement dosage formats, making strides in that space as well. As the company approaches its 50thanniversary, this year’s SupplySide West was an opportunity to showcase all that it has to offer, and how much the brand has grown since its beginnings as a dairy company.

Fortifying its position

Kerry acquired Wellmune in 2015, and BC30 in 2017, two well-researched ingredients ideal for food and beverage applications that support immunity and digestive health, respectively. These ingredients, in combination with Kerry’s taste and flavor portfolio, have allowed its customers to offer immune and digestive health in a diverse range of applications outside of traditional supplements. However, the supplement space still has opportunity, particularly in the fast-growing gummy space, said John Quilter, vice president of global proactive health technology at Kerry. Because Kerry only has the rights to use BC30 in foods and beverages, the company reached a licensing agreement with Bio-Cat (Troy, VA), for its spore-forming probiotic strain Bacillus subtilis ATCC122264, now called Sporevia. The GRAS, non-GMO, and vegan compliant strain can be used in gummies, capsules, tablets, and ready-to-mix powders, vastly expanding Kerry’s offerings in the probiotic space.

The firm has also seen the potential in expanding its offerings in terms of need states. Up until now, Kerry has specialized in protein, probiotics, and immunity. However, with its recent acquisitions of Biosearch Life, and Natreon, not only is Kerry now entering the world of botanicals and omega-3s but also major trending categories such as women’s health, healthy aging, and cognitive health. With the acquisition of Natreon, Kerry intends to expand its line of ayurvedic herbs, such as ashwagandha, under the brand name Sensoril, into the mainstream food and beverage space, where its footprint is still relatively small.

Kerry is well suited now to serve both the food and beverage space as well as the traditional supplement space, while also helping finished product brands transition into functional food and beverages to accommodate increased consumer demand for alternative dosage formats.

Sustainability

At 2019's SupplySide West, the last SupplySide West show before the pandemic, Kerry launched its ProDiem range of plant protein solutions. For a company whose foundations are in dairy, the decision to move into plant-based proteins was made on the condition that it can meet the quality and sustainability of its dairy protein products. Using pea and rice as protein sources, Kerry was able to develop a product with a high protein digestibility corrected amino acid (PDCAAS) score similar to that of milk and eggs. With its taste modulation technology, Kerry was also able to go a step further in ensuring quality taste and texture of protein products that contain ProDiem.

Since then, Kerry has also acquired Pevesa Biotech, based in Spain, to enhance its position in the hydrolyzed plant-protein space, as well as increase its sustainability. In addition to its leadership in plant proteins and infant nutrition, Pevesa has developed a range of organic and standard biofertilizers using its nitrogen waste stream.

Kerry’s commitment to sustainability is not new. Since 2013, Kerry has been a member of Origin Green, a nationally accredited sustainability program of the Irish Food Board, committed to operate in the most sustainable manner possible. Kerry has done this through grass-fed dairy, which is the least intensive production environment for raising livestock. However, climate change, and now the pandemic, is increasing the urgency to act. Last year, Kerry announced its “Beyond the Horizon” sustainability strategy with a goal to reach over two billion people with sustainable nutrition solutions. As part of the strategy, Kerry intends to cut absolute emission from operations by 33% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions before 2050, to sustainably source 100% of its priority raw materials by 2030, and make 100% of its plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.

For finished product manufacturers, Kerry’s ingredient portfolio also allows for sustainable practices. One way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is through ready-to-drink powders. They are easier and more cost-effective to transport because there is no liquid, and use less plastic. As an example, Kerry provided a proof of concept: Blueberry Mint Kombucha with Added Probiotics. Made using BC30 Probiotic, Kerry Tastesense Sweet, Fermented Tea Vinegar, and Blueberry Crystals, the ingredient is a functional dry kombucha beverage mix. According to Jacqui Finegan, business development manager North America, proteins, applied health and nutrition, ready-to-mix powders are an ideal format for this kind of product because of its convenience and association with sustainability as most people move away from bottled water and fill up their own reusable bottles at their convenience.

This year’s SupplySide West allowed Kerry to showcase its ability to support customers through multiple categories, need states, and applications. Approaching its 50th year in business, Kerry strives to continue growing as a business while also improving through efforts at sustainability.