“At this stage, we are not looking for more freeze-dried strawberry contracts,” or to be merely an ingredient supplier, even though “strawberries are very, very cools and they do a lot for us and we will remain very focused on our big customers of strawberries,” Jacobson told FoodNavigator-USA at IFT19 in New Orleans last month.
Rather, as illustrated by the company’s rebrand unveiled at the show, Jacobson explained, “we are ready to build the next chapter of Chaucer,” in which the company is known not just as an ingredient supplier but as a partner in collaboration, innovation and solutions.
“I think our customers are going to see a different Chaucer. We are going to come to them with solutions and ideas more so than just being a really good supplier of sliced strawberries for their cereal products,” he said.
For example, he explained that freeze-drying is a batch process that can be used on a wide range of high value fruits and vegetables to help them retain their original nutrition, flavor and color so that they deliver the functional benefits consumers want but in innovative formats.
Freeze-dried ingredients also play well across a wide range of categories and day parts, including in snacks, beverages, supplements and convenient meal solutions, Jacobson said.
He added the possibilities are endless and range from freeze-dried, nutrient dense vegetables for ramen cups or freeze-dried yogurt powders that can be combined with probiotics in a stick pack to create an easy on-the-go smoothie when added to a bottle of water.
In addition, the company is exploring and investing in technology beyond freeze-drying that will allow it to innovate in adjacent areas both with customers and in-house under its own brands, Jacobson said.
Beyond Chaucer’s technical capacity and innovative expertise, Jacobson added that the company’s global reach gives it a strong competitive advantage.
“We are a global freeze-dried fruit processor. So, we have operations in the three major theaters of Asia, US and Europe, and we think that is really a strategic advantage against our competitors because we have our cross group support, we have global markets for sourcing raw materials, and we have global innovation where we are all joined up so that people in Asia working on ideas can cross pollinate ideas in other regions,” Jacobson said.
Rebranding reflects vision of new company owner
The rebrand unveiled at IFT has been a long time in the making, according to Jacobson, who said the inspiration for the reboot followed the acquisition of Chaucer in 2016 by the Japanese instant food producer and distributor Nagatanien for more than $120 million.
“As with all acquisitions, there is a period of transition with the sellers of the business and the new owners, and it takes some time to establish a new leadership team and vision,” Jacobson said. “So, we have been going through this process and what we have is a rebranding that is more than a snappy new logo.”
He explained: “The rebranding reflects the work by the new leadership team to really define the business of who we are and what we want to do and where we want to go. It was really around a new culture of the business and defining what kinds of products and services we want to offer and then building a framework around that as a brand.”
Much of this effort is apparent on the company’s new website, which now includes not just the details of the more than 75 different freeze-dried and baked ingredients offered by the company, but also “useful content for food manufacturing businesses’ NPD teams,” such as food trends, recipe ideas and other information that shows off Chaucer’s sourcing, manufacturing, technical ability and accreditation, according to the company.