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dsm-firmenich: Nurturing people and planet with sustainable product innovations

Source:FoodPacific Manufacturing Journal Release Date:2024-04-23 624
Food & BeverageFood & Beverage Ingredients Special ReportIngredients
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Exclusive interview with Fredrik Hjelmqvist, Senior Vice President, Beverages & More, dsm-firmenich Ingredient Solutions

“The first wealth is health,” goes the timeless quote that has never been more important to us emerging from a pandemic. According to recent studies, priorities are shifting – for a growing number of consumers, an active lifestyle coupled with a healthy diet is the order of the day.


Whether one is motivated to be in good shape, or is doing it for the environment, mindful eating has become a top priority for many consumers around the world. In fact, the global demand for health and wellness foods (i.e. whole foods, clean label snacks) is expected to increase exponentially at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.80% between the years 2023 and 2030 with a predicted value of USD 1805.8 million by 2030.1


For eco-conscious consumers, another important part of eating right is connected to knowing what’s in their food, where it comes from, and how it is processed. The food industry has been addressing these concerns for a while now, with sustainability becoming a core value among stakeholders across supply chains.


Now more than ever, the production of sustainable food (environmentally friendly food produced in a way that protects the environment, and its natural resources, and consumes less energy2) is the target of multinational organisations. 


At FIC 2024, the commitment to good health and sustainability was at the forefront for many companies familiar with the needs of the China market. One such company is dsm-firmenich, which showcased its ‘Taste, Texture & Health’ sustainable ingredient solutions, as they partner with the food and beverage industry to strike the perfect balance between the palate and the planet.


“The global food and beverage industry is embracing the future of health, and as manufacturers, we are thinking about how to help consumers supplement their daily nutrition in a more relaxed way,” explained Mr. Fredrik Hjelmqvist, Senior Vice President, Beverages & More, dsm-firmenich Ingredient Solutions.  “We are very focused on global and Chinese consumer trends. Our innovative solutions positively echo the consumer’s demand for food and beverages that offer a great-tasting experience while delivering on health metrics.”



Fredrik Hjelmqvist, Senior Vice President, Beverages & More, dsm-firmenich Ingredient Solutions



An in-depth look at taste, texture, and health

Under the theme, "Healthier. More delicious. Better for people and planet", dsm-firmenich presented their concepts and solutions at their unique booth for FIC 2024. It was conveniently divided into different stations: Dairy & Alternatives, BBCI Savory & Alternatives, Beverages & More (B&M), and Special Purpose Solutions (dysphagia solutions).


The company’s business unit Taste, Texture & Health (TTH) also organised two parallel seminars to explain the advantages of their products. During the first seminar entitled "dsm-firmenich Empowers Healthy Food and Beverages" local experts shared nutrition fortification solutions for staple foods, instant noodles, sports drinks, and other innovative applications.


In the second seminar, “dsm-firmenich Unlocks Next Generation of Innovative Dairy Products,” both global and local experts talked about the yogurt culture Delvo® Fresh Pioneer, the acid lactase Maxilact® A4, and the new enzyme Delvo® Plant Boost, all of which are currently available in the market. Experts also introduced a new digital tool Fortifull™ that allows manufacturers to differentiate between plant-based products via an enhanced nutritional profile.


“We strive to use comprehensive solutions to explain to the industry and consumers our scientific research roots, and biotechnology expertise, showcase powerful products and applications in the global food and beverage sector,” said Mr. Hjelmqvist, “We also want to demonstrate how closely we work with customers with our Taste, Texture, and Health (TTH) business unit and show how we help manufacturers meet consumers health needs, and drive industry growth with innovation and science."


Diverse solutions support three major health trends

Since the inception of "Healthy China 2030", how people consume healthy food and beverages has become a major public focus. According to Mr. Hjelmqvist, the demand and interest in immune system support products increased significantly after the pandemic. Globally three major health trends emerged: Vitamin Fortification, Energy Support, and Health & Brain Management.


Vitamin fortification: Multivitamin/mineral supplements are quite popular among Chinese consumers due to their immune-boosting needs. As the world's leading manufacturer of nutrients, dsm-firmenich’s team of experts works closely with customers to identify and combine relevant ingredients to deliver proven health results and provide them with any required support.


"We don't just sell vitamins directly, but offer solutions in the form of premixes," Mr. Hjelmqvist explained, "Premixes are a critical part of selling solutions. Different market segments can be offered different application forms such as beverages, jellies, gummies, and so on, thus providing strong application support to our customers."


Energy support: China's fitness trend has intensified with the pursuit of healthy living. People pay more attention to self-improvement and health management and actively participate in fitness activities. It is a large market that offers manufacturers significant growth potential. dsm-firmenich has several products to help serve the local sports and fitness markets.


One of these solutions is PeptoPro® Peptide which is derived from dairy protein and contains 20 essential amino acids for muscle protein synthesis. It is virtually lactose and fat-free and is instantly soluble even in cold water. More importantly, it is immediately absorbed by the body. This product allows customers to create formulas for different sports nutrition applications such as instant powders, drinks, jellies, and energy bar products that serve a range of consumers with different needs. This includes enhanced endurance, physical recovery speed up, controlling weight, or improving muscle mass.


In addition to PeptoPro®, dsm-firmenich offers other vitamins, nutritional lipids, carotenoids, and micronutrient premixes for sports nutrition applications such as protein powders, fluid beverages, and ready-to-drink protein shakes. “Our health benefit solutions for sports drinks help energise the body and expand its limits by addressing muscle function, endurance, and recovery, as well as heart, mind, eye, and joint health. We also offer health essentials for women and men to maximise energy and endurance and control weight,” said Mr. Hjelmqvist.


Heart and brain health management: Heart and brain health management has been a hot topic among consumers of all ages, especially in China when it comes to children and the elderly. Mr. Hjelmqvist believes that Chinese consumers are highly aware of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid, or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to overall health.


The Life's DHA® algae oil is a 100% plant-based premium solution that functions similarly to traditional fish oils, but it is produced by dsm-firmenich in a fully controlled environment. This enables end-to-end traceability and facilitates the development of effective and safe omega-3 solutions by dietary supplement manufacturers. In addition, they can share all the knowledge they have accumulated in the field of ‘heart health’ with customers to maximise consumer value.


Through its products PeptoPro®, Life's DHA® algae oil, and other leading solutions, dsm-firmenich supports trends in vitamin fortification, energy support, and health & brain management.


Overall global aspirations are the same, but the key lies in the implementation

Surveys show consumers are cutting down on processed and meat products, increasing their intake of nutrient-dense foods, and/or taking more dietary supplements.


Sugar and salt reduction also emerged as a global trend especially after the pandemic. “The market is constantly shifting to beverages that pay attention to daily energy management. dsm-firmenich has also prepared for this eventuality," said Mr. Hjelmqvist.


F&B trends that start in the West eventually trickle down to other parts of the world, yet when it comes to health and nutrition, global aspirations are the same. Comparing developments in the EU and China markets, Mr. Hjelmqvist has observed that in recent years, the EU has shown a preference for low-sugar, low-fat, and high-fiber products, as well as for organic and non-GMO foods. The market also shows strong interest in innovative food technologies such as plant proteins and nutritionally fortified products. While in packaging, consumers in Europe tend to choose simple, recyclable food and beverage packaging. Conversely, in China, healthy, nutritious, and tasty food is the first choice among consumers, and the love for traditional Chinese culture is reflected in their food and beverage preferences, such as innovative and trendy street beverages based on traditional teas and Chinese-style snacks.


This suggests that both European and Chinese consumers are interested in health and food quality but with differences in specific preferences and requirements for innovation. According to Mr Hjelmqvist, this not only provides opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers but also allows companies to gain an in-depth understanding of the needs of consumers in different regions. “The difference in the overall trends globally is not huge, but how specific products are implemented in various regions is different. This is exactly where the mission of dsm-firmenich lies,” he said.


Stronger together for excellent progress

This mission is now being carried out and accelerated by the merger into dsm-firmenich. The union has brought together two highly complementary businesses in the food and beverage industry, giving rise to the business unit: Taste and Texture and Health (TTH). It comprises two major divisions: ‘Taste’ and ‘Ingredient Solutions’. Taste encompasses flavours, natural extracts, and sugar reduction solutions while Ingredient Solutions, include enzymes, cultures, hydrocolloids, proteins, colourants, nutritional ingredients, premixes, and yeast extracts. “As soon as the merger was completed, our teams started to work in synergy to enhance research on brand new solutions," said Mr. Hjelmqvist.


Delicious, sustainable, and supportive of Healthy China 2030

While serving the F&B industry, dsm-firmenich has also made strides to reduce its carbon emissions. In China, dsm-firmenich has responded to the country’s "dual carbon" goal and participates in green power trading to help promote energy transformation. In 2022, it became the first company in Jiangsu Province to join green power trading.


In November 2023, the company’s three operating sites in Shanghai (dsm-firmenich Zhangjiang, Minhang, and Xinghuo) reached a five-year energy cooperation framework agreement with Huaneng Energy Marketing. It will gradually achieve 100% green power supply from 2024 to 2028, comprehensively promoting the concept of sustainable development in all aspects of R&D, manufacturing, and operation while accelerating the realisation of its "dual carbon" goal.


Significantly, in January 2024, dsm-firmenich also acquired 100% shares of Hangzhou ARTSCI Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (ARTSCI), a leading flavour company in China. Previously, the company owned a partial majority of its shares. ARTSCI has built an extensive distribution network in China and is well-known in the industry for its flexible service to large and medium-sized domestic customers. This move will effectively enhance the company’s leading position in the dairy, beverage, bakery, and confectionery markets.


Mr. Hjelmqvist continues to be optimistic about prospects in the Chinese market. "As a reliable partner to the food and beverage industry, Taste, Texture and Health (TTH) will always be committed to providing customers with expertise and to creating first-class customised solutions. We will further strengthen cooperation with new and old customers. We strive to help customers create more products that take into account health and taste through star products such as premixes, carotene, PeptoPro®, and solutions that meet local consumer preferences. We believe that innovative products help to improve people’s quality of life,” he concluded.




1 Health and Wellness Food Market Size, Growth & Forecast 2030 (credenceresearch.com) https://www.credenceresearch.com/report/health-and-wellness-food-market

2 The future of sustainable food in China. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/fes3.405

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