With annual sales of more than €5.8 billion ($6.4 billion) and 24,000 employees in 120 countries, Irish ingredients maker Kerry Group supplies more than 15,000 ingredients and flavors to food, beverage and pharmaceutical companies around the world.
The company is a leader in global taste and nutrition, working closely with customers to create ingredients that meet consumer demand, according to Frank Hayes, director of corporate affairs. Hayes sees health and wellness as the biggest driver of change in the food ingredients industry.
Now Kerry has set a goal of providing expert insight into the science and policy of health, taste, nutrition and general wellness through the recently launched Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute. Hayes says Kerry believes it will be beneficial to have an independent advisory institute to appraise and review developments important to Kerry's customers. The institute includes both internal Kerry advisors and an external Scientific Advisory Council.
The press release announcing the institute noted that public health challenges such as obesity and diabetes are increasing around the world and in all age groups. These challenges have led to an increased focus on improving the nutritional quality of the food supply. However, companies must still address the convenience and taste factors consumers demand in making food choices.
"The challenges we are facing in terms of public health are varied, complex and are at a global scale. Action is needed at industry, social and individual level to tackle crises, such as the obesity epidemic," said Satya Jonnalagadda, director of global nutrition at Kerry and the new head of the Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute. "As a taste and nutrition leader, we want to help guide the development of evidence based products that will have a significant impact on health and still taste great."
Kerry expanding U.S. presence
Kerry has also been active with acquisitions. In mid-October Kerry agreed to buy three U.S. firms for $735 million. The acquisitions increase Kerry's presence in the U.S., expand the company's flavoring, beverage and health product lines, and add about $300 million in annual revenue.
One of the acquisitions is Wisconsin-based Red Arrow Products, a supplier of smoke flavorings for meat. Hayes notes this acquisition strengthens Kerry's flavor business.
Massachusetts-based Island Oasis, a supplier of beverages and equipment to the hospitality sector, is another Kerry acquisition. Hayes says beverages are a huge area of growth, while the company press release said these brands "complement Kerry's existing branded foodservice offerings" and broaden the company's reach and service in fast-growing foodservice segments.
Kerry's third U.S. acquisition is the Wellmune business of Biothera. Wellmune is a natural immune-enhancing proprietary yeast beta 1,3/1,6 glucan backed by clinical trials. The ingredient can be used in foods, beverages, and supplements and is approved for use by regulatory agencies in major markets around the world.
Kerry also recently acquired Wynnstarr Flavors and KFI Savory (the U.S.-based savory business of Kraft Food Ingredients).
"At Kerry, cutting-edge science and technology informs everything we help shape and create. The addition of Wellmune to our portfolio offers Kerry tremendous growth opportunities globally," said Michael O’Neill, Kerry's nutrition president, in a news release. "This natural immunity enhancer strengthens our nutrition and general wellness capabilities and complements our taste solutions for applications in food, beverages, and supplements."
Hayes said Kerry may consider other acquisitions but will probably spend the next year fully integrating these new companies.