Cargill Innovating for India in India, delivers customized food solutions in line with evolving consumer trends

Gurugram – Responding to Indian consumer preferences that prioritize health and wellness, and engaging sensory experiences, the Cargill Innovation Center (CIC) in India is leading the way with its insights-led innovation to co-create food solutions best suited for local tastes and preferences.

Inaugurated in 2022, the CIC works with food manufacturers, both large and small to medium, to innovate and enable new product development, across bakery, foodservice, dairy & beverage, specialized nutrition, snacks and confectionery categories. Following its first successful year of operations in India, CIC showcased some of the tailored solutions developed locally by combining Cargill’s extensive global expertise in food solutions and deep market insights into unique consumer trends in India.

Cargill’s proprietary TrendTracker 2023 study on Global Food and Beverage Industry, highlights some of the trends that the company is working on with its customers –

“Healthy for me” – According to the study, consumers today are prioritizing health and seeking healthier choices and making deliberate decisions regarding their food and beverage choices, including:

  • Focus on immune boosting, digestive wellness, gut health and higher fibre content has grown significantly post pandemic
  • Alternate sources of protein being sought after as consumers are looking to cover their daily protein requirements through natural plant-based sources
  • Consumers are opting for healthier ingredients and prefer products with fewer, familiar and more natural ingredients. 82% of consumers in India read on-pack health claims while purchasing a product
  • Clean label products resonate with consumers and 9 in 10 consumers actively seek recognizable ingredients in the products they choose.

“Experience it” – Consumers are becoming more indulgent with their food choices and are looking to elevate sensorial experiences. They want to go beyond taste to engage all the senses like good texture, mouthfeel, crunchiness, creaminess, chewiness, crispiness and also looking for a healthy twist to their snacks. The Cargill study shows that 28% of Indians have increased consumption of indulgent snacks over the last 12 months, signaling a shift in snacking preferences and 39% of consumers prefer their snacks to be ‘tasty but healthy,’ emphasizing a growing need for snacks that offer indulgence with health benefits.

Subin Sivan, Marketing & Commercial Excellence Leader, Cargill’s Food Solutions business in South Asia, said, “India is a vibrant consumer market offering immense growth potential for food and beverage manufacturers. With growing demand for products that are healthier and high on sensory experiences, our customers count on us for innovative solutions that create new experiences for their consumers. We leverage our global expertise, coupled with unique consumer insights and deep experience in the Indian market to build trends based, customized food solutions to deliver on the strategic priorities of our customers and strengthening our role as their partner of choice.”

Some of the tailored solutions developed by the Cargill Innovation Center in India for India are:

  • Protex DS, a groundbreaking Vital Wheat Gluten substitute developed in India, designed to enhance cost efficiency and functional superiority for bread and rusk manufacturers, reducing dependency on wheat. It is used as a key ingredient in baking.
  • Elite Choice, India’s first flavored aerated cookie shortening, a trans-fat free proprietary fat that transforms cookies to make them lighter, crispier, and tastier with a longer shelf life, ultimately elevating the customer and consumer experience.
  • Modified Lipid developed at CIC helps manage oil separation to enhance convenience and stability across various food products like peanut butter, fat spread, chocolate spread, RUTF (Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food), frozen flatbreads, and more. It has been adopted by customers in other regions as well.
  • Classic Gold, a light bakery shortening used in making puffs and patties lighter and tastier. It ensures guilt-free indulgence.

In addition to this, CIC is adapting Cargill’s global innovations for the Indian market:

  • RadiPure and Protex E8001G – Natural, plant-based pea proteins that provide superior mouthfeel and a healthier alternative to protein and is used by the Dairy and Beverage industry.
  • Epicor, a post-biotic ingredient for gut health that supports the immune system. Catering to the emerging trend of postbiotics that is catching consumer attention, Cargill Innovation Centre in India is building prototypes for the Dairy, Confectionery and Bakery industry with applications like gummies, chocolates, chocolate milk shake focusing on the health and nutrition space in India.

Kunal Yadav, B2B commercial leader, Cargill’s Food Solutions business in South Asia, said, “We adopt a customer-driven approach and provide R&D support to create end-to-end food solutions and offerings for our customers. We recently helped resolve a viscosity problem using our value-added fat solutions for one of our largest bakery customers in India. Additionally, our offerings in pea protein are being used by our customers in powder beverages. Insights-based innovation continues to be a key enabler for us to help solve some of the key challenges our customers are facing.”

Apart from being a center for food innovation, CIC has also been a catalyst for change, supporting capacity-building within the Indian food industry. Since its launch, the Center has empowered over 100 bakers mostly from small and medium enterprises, providing them with knowledge and necessary skill to thrive in a competitive market.