“Previously Brenntag was viewed as more of a commodity and chemicals distribution company,” Larry Davis, VP of North America told NutraIngredients recently – noting that the company has generally been known for processing and selling chemicals and ingredients.
“Where it is really different now is that we have a living network,” he said – noting that the company is present in EMEA, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North America – with 28 product application and development centres and 750 food and nutrition employees.
Under the new business structure, Brenntag’s food and beverage-specific capabilities in 73 countries will be drawn together in one coordinated business unit and management, which the company suggests will leave it with strong local presence and infrastructure in multiple markets.
“With our capabilities we are now at a tipping point where it made sense to join all respective forces to concentrate on Food & Nutrition which is an important industry segment for Brenntag with attractive opportunities for growth,” commented explains Henri Nejade, member of the management board of Brenntag Group.
“With the new set-up, we will be in a much better position to meet the expectations of our current and future business partners on both, local and global level.”
According to Davis, the shift will help Brenntag to co-develop products with customers, and help businesses that are looking for R&D and technical expertise that they lack internally.
Indeed, Davis noted that for many companies, R&D is becoming harder to do alone.
“They have less resources at their disposal and are relying more and more on their distributor partners to help them with the formulation capabilities and product concepts - and that's really where we are expanding that out,” he said. “We are literally doing product formulation in conjunction with our customers.”
Davis told NutraIngredients that Brenntag now wants its consumers and the wider industry to view the company ‘more as a technical and product formulation resource’ than ‘just simple sales and marketing’.
“We are really changing up and taking the experiences of our application labs throughout the world - and how we can translate that [experience] into quick product development for our existing customers,” he said.
“Really, it's a product concept. What we want to be able to do is partner with our producers and some of their functional and value-added ingredients, and put them into a finished product concept.”
From trends to finished products
Tom Corcoran, vice president of the new Food & Nutrition Brenntag Group will lead the new group globally. He added: “We aspire to be a living network, sharing best practices, knowledge and insights and ultimately turning trends into marketable products for our partners.”
Davis added that the company is looking at ‘white spaces’ in its existing product portfolio, to ensure the new ingredients and products brought into the portfolio are on trend.
“We'll continue to push that side and develop more around that, and certainly do more application work around those types of ingredients,” he noted – adding that the company is following ‘mega-trends’ on reduced sugars, clean label, in addition to other trends in the functional beverage and protein space.
Speaking regarding sugar reduction and clean label trends, he added that such mega-trends are here to stay.
“Those are always going to be around. They are mega-trends, but in reality, they are just staples now,” said Davis.
“But I do think there will continue to be more development on the plant protein side of things, and I also think that vegan is going to continue. It's one of the fastest growing segments that we're seeing,” he added. “We've been working diligently on that.”