“The India market is dynamic and evolving and we are looking at our next phase of investment in India”

Siddharth Rastogi, General Manager, Indian Subcontinent/South-West Asia, Kerry

Kerry Group is an international leader in taste & nutrition innovation headquartered in Ireland. The company is an ingredients supplier in the taste, functional and nutrition categories. It also provides food and beverage solutions as well as food service. Kerry owns technology and innovation centres across Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Latin America, and North America, along with a global manufacturing network. Kerry brings big ideas to life with insights, research, execution, and thought-leadership for customers around the world. Following a decade-long presence in India, Kerry plans to further expand the food business in the country. In conversation with nuFFooDS Spectrum, Siddharth Rastogi, General Manager, Indian Subcontinent/South-West Asia, Kerry, sheds light on the company’s recent developments.

What are the recent India-centric developments of Kerry in terms of the food business?

Kerry supplies ingredient solutions to brands that are used in their products. For example, flavours and seasonings in snacks. We invest in localising our global technologies and concepts, customising them for the India market and producing everything here. 

We work with major brands across all categories and have more than 600 customers in India. The unique thing about the Indian market is that even smaller local players in tier two or three cities have the potential to become big brands with the right product. This is what we’ve seen with many of our existing customers who started off five years ago as small brands. 

The India market is dynamic and evolving and we are looking at our next phase of investment in India. Kerry has been in India since 2011, and it’s been more than 10 years since our first facility in the country was established, a manufacturing facility, which was followed by another in 2019. 

2022 marks our 50th anniversary and our plans are to expand our manufacturing facilities in both the north and south of India. We have also opened a new development and application centre in Delhi.  We expect to see growth in this region over the next 5-10 years.

What was the food business revenue of the company in FY 21-22? How much growth do you expect in FY 22-23? How much does the Indian food business contribute to this revenue?

Kerry achieved excellent growth across Q3 2022 through a combination of strong business volumes and pricing, despite an unprecedented inflationary pricing environment. In Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, we saw overall volume growth of 9 per cent with continued strong Q3 growth of 8.6 per cent. Volume growth was led by Snacks, Meat and Bakery markets.

India is a market that Kerry’s invested in for a decade, and we’ve been part of the growth story globally. From a demographic and economic perspective, we believe there is a unique opportunity in India. With a population of 1.4 billion people, India is a big market, economically, with consumers of different preferences and tastes. The Indian consumer has the advantage of being able to demand the best possible product at the lowest possible price. We are a value-seeking market but with rising commodity prices and supply chain concerns, it is challenging to continue to provide the best possible solutions to customers. 

Kerry has recently launched a new tool to access the front-of-pack nutrition labels. How would that help the FoPL regulations in India?

KerryNutri Guide has been launched in response to the need to promote healthier diets globally amid a changing regulatory environment. Governments across the world are introducing taxes and restrictions on products that are high in fat, sugar and salt to combat health issues which put a huge burden on public resources, while manufacturers have the challenge of creating great tasting products that still meet these guidelines.

Today, more than 40 countries worldwide use a front-of-pack nutrition label and this can be challenging for companies who have products sold in multiple markets to understand exactly how these labelling systems will appear on their product.

Using KerryNutri Guide, we can innovate with customers to create products that meet challenges such as sugar taxes, sodium reduction targets, and comprehensive nutritional profile models. Using data entered by the user, the tool measures the impact of a product that is packaged and ready for the end consumer, calculating energy as well as saturated fat, sugar, fibre, protein and salt content. KerryNutri Guide then displays the nutrient score of each input, showing areas that are close to or exceeding a regulatory or dietary threshold.

At Kerry, we have a broad range of technologies that can support reformulation as well as leading insights to support manufacturers in a challenging environment. We need to work together to create a world of sustainable nutrition, that is better for people and the planet – KerryNutri Guide is one way that we can support customers in our joint goals.”

What are the challenges in terms of supply chain and exports of food ingredients and how is Kerry  overcoming them?

The challenge for us is how do we make our diverse portfolio relevant for our Indian customers and their consumers. Our local consumer insights and manufacturing facilities help us create appealing, localised products in a more cost-effective manner, which then help our customers’ business be more profitable, and the advantages are passed on to consumers. 

The last couple of years have been extremely strong for us here in India. We have grown more than two, three times more than what the market has grown. We see that as a continuing opportunity to improve our footprint and offer better solutions to our customers. Going local is our business strategy so that we can make it easy for our customers to work with us. Our leading consumer insights, global RD&A team of 1,100+ food scientists and extensive global footprint enable us to solve our customers’ complex challenges with differentiated solutions, while offering the speed to market in helping them create the right products.

What are your most recent food business-related acquisitions? What are you expecting from them? 

In April 2022, we completed the acquisition of the U.S.-based Natreon, Inc., which supplies branded and scientifically studied and tested Ayurvedic extracts to the dietary supplement and functional food and beverage industries across the globe. This follows Kerry’s acquisition of Biosearch Life in 2021. Based in Grenada, Spain, Biosearch Life innovates, manufactures and distributes functional ingredients including probiotics, where it is a recognised leader in premium probiotics obtained from human breast milk, along with an extensive portfolio of science-backed botanical extracts and ultra-purified omega-3 oils. 

Both acquisitions significantly expand Kerry’s leadership position and ProActive Health portfolio of science-backed branded ingredients, furthering the company’s technology growth. 

Consumers today are increasingly looking for nutritional benefits when purchasing food and beverage products. The growth of our ProActive Health portfolio allows us to address a wider range of health needs, including healthy ageing, cognitive, joint and digestive health and reflects the growing number of consumers becoming more proactive in their approach to managing their health.

These acquisitions allow us to deliver health benefits substantiated by clinical research to a greater number of consumers, ultimately supporting Kerry’s ambition to reach over two billion people with sustainable nutrition solutions by 2030.

Mansi Jamsudkar


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