Cargill At Food Ingredients China: Partnership Is Key
Friday, April 13th, 2018 | 503 Views
From 22 to 24 March 2018, Cargill participated in Food Ingredients China (FIC)—an annual event that hosts Asia’s food additives and ingredients industry, held at the National Exhibition and Convention Centre in Shanghai, China.
Aligning with the company’s theme of Nourishing Partnership this year, Cargill highlighted the importance of collaboration with China and regional clients, government bodies, and suppliers.
In recent years, the company has been seeking to improve its customer experience portfolio via its research and development route, in addition to working closely with its clients to track Chinese consumer market trends and future development trajectories. Cargill currently operates two research and development centres—one in Shanghai, another in Beijing. The Shanghai Cargill ONE, opened in 2016, is Cargill’s first innovation centre in Asia, and serves to create new food products and flavours catering to customer needs and tastes in China.
Citing its ability to leverage its technology globally, the company announced its aim for a multi-directional knowledge sharing platform, where customer-oriented solutions developed in China can be implemented in other regions around the world and vice versa.
At FIC, Franck Monmont, the Cargill APAC regional director, commented on a recent consumer trend—one that is shifting towards packaged and processed food to cut time on meal preparation. He attributes the phenomenon to Chinese consumers who are dedicating more time at work, arising from the ongoing socio-economic development in China.
Mr Monmont also noted that while convenience takes precedence in China, Chinese consumers were similar to the French, where texture, flavour and nutritional benefits were just as important considerations. He also noted that the Chinese food industry, as with the other markets in Asia Pacific, is rapidly evolving, and that Cargill is resolved to keep up to speed with this dynamic market.
This effort is evident at Cargill’s corn processing plant in Songyuan, located in the Jilin province, northeast China, where the company has planned to double the size of the facility by the end of 2018.
Food Safety Is Key
Despite the many factors to consider in food development and production processes, Cargill places utmost priority on food safety, a resounding theme at the event. Being a fully-integrated company that stresses total supply chain management—from the sourcing of its agricultural supplies to the analysis of consumer reception on its array of products—Cargill seeks to develop a sound understanding of varying consumer needs across the diverse Asia Pacific market.
Within China, Cargill employs more than 9,000 people across more than 60 locations nationwide. This engagement with the local communities provides the company with reliable platform to develop process and protocols that enable food safety, as stricter controls and traceability can then be imposed throughout the entire supply chain, from production right through to delivery.
Cargill also took the opportunity to reiterate its commitment to the Chinese market. Noting that the US$850 billion food industry is growing rapidly, the company expects to continue investing in strategic spaces that include growing its operations, enhancing its existing facilities and improving on its processes; to ensure that food safety and quality standards are met and exceeded.
The “Big Health”
With the Chinese government’s healthcare campaign on “big health”, Cargill is taking a holistic approach towards wellness by advocating the importance of prevention and general health management, as well as health and nutrition. The company believes in providing a range of solutions to meet increasingly diverse customer needs. Recent health trends, such as the reduction in fat, salt, and sugar in food, as well as the growing demand for plant-based proteins and nutrients for brain health, also means that the company must now step up its efforts in delivering solutions in these areas.
One specific example that has been introduced to the Chinese market is the zero-calorie natural sweetener, Eversweet, made from stevia leaf by fermentation. It addresses consumers’ preference for a healthier—low-calorie, reduced-sugar—option without compromising on taste and affordability, and has seen positive response from the country’s consumers.
Plant-based protein is another aspect that has been explored and which is expected to see market growth in China. Its solubility and taste enhancement are other factors that the company is working on improving, apart from the health benefits and compatibility with vegan and vegetarian lifestyles.
Existing development is underway to develop new solutions in relation to vitamins, ARA and DHA but the company has cited room for improvement in creating new nutritional formulas in the direction of digestive health and weight control.
To this end, it is currently seeking to work with more providers of health and nutrition in order to collaborate and focus on market-oriented solutions for China.
Cargill’s presence in China dates back to 1970. With almost 50 years of experience in the China food market, the company operates extensively throughout the country across a vast variety of ingredients where it still continues to monitor the country’s market development.
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