Make It Food! Univar’s Foodology team helps nutraceutical brands branch into food and drink formats: 2023 SupplySide West Report

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Foodology by Univar Solutions uses its expertise in ingredients, R&D, and market trends to help food and nutrition companies develop functional food and drinks.

Photo © AdobeStock.com/Elena Elizarova

Photo © AdobeStock.com/Elena Elizarova

Food and drink is the next frontier for nutraceuticals as consumers demand delivery formats outside of traditional tablets and capsules. For companies who need help getting into the food and drink space, ingredient distributor Univar Solutions (Downers Grove, IL) offers a food ingredients division, which it launched last summer. The Foodology by Univar Solutions team includes ingredient experts and application development specialists who can help companies solve formulation challenges and identify ingredient and market opportunities. During October’s SupplySide West trade show, company representatives discussed how Foodology offers the nutrition market a unique proposition.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Silvi Siddhu, global director, nutraceuticals, Univar Solutions, at SupplySide West, commenting on Foodology’s reception. “The goal when we introduced Foodology by Univar Solutions was to show the world that we are a very strong food ingredient supplier.” Laci Theriot, senior advisor, marketing communications, added that Foodology has helped customers view Univar Solutions as an expert in the food and beverage space.

To help consumers grappling with “pill fatigue,” nutraceutical companies are tasked with figuring out how to formulate ingredients into functional food and beverages. This is a whole new ball game for some brands, who must learn how to formulate into these types of products.

This is where the Foodology team can help, Siddhu said. Because the team’s expertise lies in food and distributing ingredients from a wide range of suppliers, it can help companies identify which ingredients are available that will work in food matrices and that will deliver on the company’s product vision. (It should also be noted that the industries that Univar Solutions serves span not only nutraceuticals and food but also pharmaceutical and other markets.)

“We partner with suppliers who can make those ingredients water soluble, for example,” Siddhu said. “The idea here is to understand what the end application is. Are they doing gummies? Are they doing shots? Are they doing beverages? Or are they doing a fortified functional bread or a functional cookie or functional yogurt? We help them find the right ingredient that seamlessly fits into the application, without any change in their capabilities within the manufacturing facility.”

The Foodology team’s application development specialists not only help customers understand which ingredients work best; they also help supplier partners understand whether or not their ingredients work well in food applications. Siddhu called the company’s relationship with its suppliers “a two-way relationship.”

And for customers, that global and regional expertise comes into play as well, helping companies understand consumer preferences in different markets around the world as well as regulatory differences.

Finally, one of Foodology’s biggest powers is applying information and experiences from other projects to future ones. The company’s applications specialists “take that knowledge and pass it on to other customers that may need it,” Siddhu said.

In addition, the team will also look for untapped opportunities in a customer’s portfolio. “Take turmeric,” Siddhu said. “There’s not a lot of water-soluble turmerics in the market, so if there is a beverage manufacturer that does not have a turmeric beverage in their portfolio, we’ll take the ingredient to them and say, ‘Hey, we now have a turmeric that is water soluble.’”

Knowledge sharing is the foundation of Foodology, Siddhu concluded, emphasizing that the program is a team effort. “It’s a collaborative effort, and we enjoy that because there’s a transfer of ideas,” she said. “You learn from other people. They learn from you.”

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