Olam is helping its customers adapt to two big trends in the ingredients industry today: e-commerce and sustainability, a top executive told Food Dive.
Olam, a supplier of food and raw materials to customers around the world, launched two new programs in 2018 to expand its digital footprint and help its customers meet their environmental targets. AtSource is its new program to increase the traceability of its spices by showing the full supply chain from the seed to the customer. Olam also debuted an online platform to make new transactions easier for the company and its customers.
Greg Estep, managing director and CEO of Olam Spices, told Food Dive that the AtSource program provides customers with information they want to know about their products. This includes how it was grown and information about the soil, water usage, fertilizer and chemicals.
"We map the greenhouse gas emissions all the way from field to the customer's door," he said. "So, it's a way for us to really look at and give an even deeper dive into full transparency and traceability of the supply chain."
The company's digital dashboard provides access to data from field to factory, which connects its customers with the source of the supply chain throughout each step of production. Estep said that helps his customers reach sustainability goals by measuring and improving green practices.
"Many customers are making their own commitments around sustainability, so this will give them data unique to them ... Those are things that customers can make claims on for their products," he said. "The other part is just that people want to know where the products come from, so the system also provides the fullest amount of transparency in the supply chain."
This new program addresses growing demands in the industry as sustainability and traceability have become top priorities for consumers. For food brands, reporting on sustainability goals around their practices is no longer an option. Nearly half of U.S. consumers are likely to change their purchasing behavior based on the environmental attributes of the food, according to survey data from Nielsen.
"We map the greenhouse gas emissions all the way from field to the customer's door. So, it's a way for us to really look at and give an even deeper dive into full transparency and traceability of the supply chain."
CEO and Managing Director, Olam Spices
The company also launched its new e-commerce platform to reach out to new customers and showcase the products it is launching, such as organic, non-GMO and free-from ingredients, Estep said.
"The industry really hasn't adapted too much to technology and in just the ways to transact more efficiently with customers," he said. "We thought that getting out ahead of it, it was a good way for us to be more efficient in our day-to-day transactions."
Food brands and suppliers are increasingly turning to e-commerce as shopping shifts online. When the company was looking for a way to target new customers, digital outreach was its way to reach out and showcase new products.
But Olam isn't just focusing on e-commerce and sustainability. The company continues to adapt as it develops new ingredients and spices based on the latest trends in the industry, Estep noted. He said the company looks to products that meet demand for ethnic flavors, different flavor profiles of spices as well as new developments within health and wellness.
Olam has operations in the U.S., primarily in California and New Mexico, as well as across the globe, including in Vietnam, China, India and Egypt. Estep said having operations in different parts of the world help the company to adapt to trends and develop authentic flavored spices, such as chili powders and masala flavors.
"How do we look at our products in a way that meets those trends? Sometimes it's launching a new product or it's just giving more visibility to existing products to meet those demands," he said.