"We were a dairy cooperative – we started out taking milk and making added value products from it and that culture, that focus on technology, has stayed with the company,” Albert McQuaid, chief innovation officer for Kerry Group.
Over recent years the firm has been on a journey called ‘One Kerry’ journey, moving the company from a business unit structure to an integrated approach, changing the way it engages with and sells to customers, McQuaid said. Central to this strategy has been the drive to centralise its R&D hubs to create a global network.
“Kerry invested about $220 million in R&D last year,” said McQuaid. “That will continue. To what exact level, I suppose, will depend on the opportunities we see out there and the opportunities for growth.”
“My own role as chief innovation officer for the group is to ensure we have the right structures in place to continue that development of new products. We do that internally with our own scientists but also through collaboration with external bodies, whether that’s universities, research centres or other technology companies.”
“We also work with start-ups. Kerry is a great vehicle for start-ups to bring their new technology to the broader food and beverage industry," McQuaid added.
Investment and innovation will be focussed on its major centres, such as North America, Ireland and Singapore, but there are exceptions to this which are decided upon on a case to case basis.
At the IFT show Kerry was showcasing TasteSense, a sugar reduction product based on botanical extracts. Labelled on pack as a natural flavour, the ingredient can achieve sugar reductions of up to 30% by modulating and enhancing the perception of sweetness.