Our Business Year in Review: Kerry Group – vegconomist

In 2018, Kerry Group announced its goal to become a plant-based leader. True to its word, the taste and nutrition company has since made extensive innovations in the plant-based sector, from vegan cheese to meat alternatives.

Last year, Kerry expanded its sub-protein capacity by strategically acquiring two biotech companies – German precision fermentation company c-LEctra and Mexican enzyme manufacturer Enmex. The company also continued to innovate, launching its own line of vegan cheeses under the Pure brand.

We spoke with Kerry Director of Strategy Ian Carroll to learn more about the company’s progress through 2022 and its new year plans.

Pure brand plant-based cheese
© Kerry/Saf

What plant-based innovations did you introduce in 2022?
In 2022, we worked with our customers to innovate in plant-based meat and dairy alternatives. Through collaboration with customers, our flavor, protein and functional technologies have been incorporated into new product launches across Europe. As an example, our newly launched plant-based cream cheese flavor solution is natural and suitable for vegans. It offers the flavor properties associated with milk-based cream cheese.

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What were the biggest challenges?
From the Understanding the European Herbal Consumer study, commissioned by Kerry in 2022, we know that plant-based consumers want more and better. They want to see improvements in taste, clean-label ingredients, quality, texture, and price, to name a few areas.

The challenge with plant-based foods is to help make both meat and dairy alternatives a more affordable, healthy, nutritious, sustainable, palatable and cleaner package. We continue to work hard to improve and meet customer and consumer expectations in the growing herbal food and beverage category.

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What were the highlights?
Through our global research, Kerry uncovered actionable insights and opportunities to meet consumer expectations for plant-based burgers and plant-based cheese slices. In 2022, we surveyed more than 1,500 consumers in four countries (US, UK, Australia and Brazil) to gain an in-depth understanding of the taste experience consumers desire from plant-based burgers and plant-based cheeses. This included:

  • Sensory perceptions of consumers
  • Pleasures, current pain points, and unmet expectations
  • A rulebook aimed at pleasing consumers’ overall plant-based taste experience.

Armed with these new consumer insights, we can help our customers and innovation partners build winning products and succeed in a dynamic and fast-growing market.

Meat Alternative Nuggets Kerry
©Kerry

What are the company’s 2023 plans?
As Kerry, we continue to deliver in accordance with customer and consumer demands. As leaders in both taste and nutrition, we work with our global, regional and local customers, using our culinary insights, development and application, and product processing technologies to bring new and innovative plant-based solutions to market.

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Following our newly launched plant-based cream cheese flavor solution, we will soon launch a new flavor and juiciness technology for plant-based meat. This is designed to provide the taste, mouthfeel, and melting properties of fat found in meat, while reducing total fat, saturated fat, and calories in plant-based meat.

2023 will continue to seek ways to better optimize and reduce costs, as well as work to improve taste, texture and nutrition.

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