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“People are not willing to compromise” – Kerry on tastes, trends and first-mover winners

27th May 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | | @foodtickernz

Global ingredient company Kerry aims to be at the forefront of taste trends across New Zealand and Australia with the opening of a new multi-million dollar purpose-built food technology and innovation centre in Queensland.

The €7.2bn company’s research, development and applications director for ANZ, Michael Palmer, told the Ticker that the company had witnessed an evolution in expectations from consumers, who were becoming more demanding about the health profile of the food products they ate – and unwilling to compromise on taste.

Michael Palmer

“What we’ve found as a business is that taste and nutrition now go hand-in-hand,” Palmer said.

“Ten years ago we talked about things that were good for you but didn’t taste great, and the reverse was that things that tasted good were not necessarily good for you – but consumers have moved along.

“People are not willing to compromise on taste…that is number one…and with that people are no longer willing to compromise on health. This is the evolution of how people are tasting – to eat smarter but not to compromise on flavour.”

Palmer said that the companies that were able to meet these expectations, which included rising demand for clean label food, were the ones who would succeed, and it was a space he saw smaller companies had an opportunity to outpace multinationals.

“Clean label is no longer a niche project that we see occasionally, it is now stock standard that people are wanting natural flavours, natural colours, no e-numbers and they want the shelf life of a traditional meat product that is in the market place.

“The market is evolving. Local players can move a lot more quickly than the multinationals, they are willing to adopt [for example] high-protein beverages a lot quicker perhaps than a multinational would, or they are using something that is perhaps better for your gut health.

“We see a range across the customer’s appetite to get on board with the trends be first to market.”

Kerry, which is listed on the Dublin and London stock exchanges, employs around 26,000 people globally and has a team of 320 across three sites in Australia. Around 190 people are based at the new Australia and New Zealand Development and Application Centre in Brisbane, which Kerry described as having end-to-end capabilities including pilot plants, laboratories and tasting facilities.

In New Zealand it has a total of 65 people with a major base in Auckland, which Palmer said the company is “absolutely” committed too.

“I got asked this question the other day, ‘how similar are the taste palates across New Zealand and Australia?’ and its an interesting one.

Opening day (l-r) Michael Palmer, Kerry ANZ Research, Development & Application Director; Queensland Treasurer the Honourable Cameron Dick; The Honourable Diane Farmer and Christine Giuliano, Kerry ANZ General Manager and Commercial Lead.

“I think there is certainly a lot of cross over in the taste palate but there are the niches so to be relevant in a market like New Zealand you need to have a footprint so there is no change to the market there.”

He added that New Zealand would be able to leverage the new facility in Brisbane, which would reduce time to market for new product development, and unlock sector growth opportunities for the Kerry, which reached one billion consumers a day with its products across the globe.

The plant protein market was one of these opportunities for the ingredient industry which according to a recent report from Research and Markets is on track to grow a value of US$75.6bn by 2028.

“Across Australia and New Zealand the whole plant protein space has been exploding – it’s been like this for two years,” Palmer said.

“There is a hunger in this sector for these products and it is all around authenticity – the people and processors who get that right are going to win in that space.”

Kerry’s new Australia and New Zealand Development and Application Centre in Brisbane, into which the company invested $2.5m, opened on 14 May.



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