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A future-forward approach: how F&B manufacturers can benefit from sustainable ingredient innovation

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Now more than ever, consumers understand how daily purchases impact the environment and this is influencing how food producers increasingly consider the sustainability characteristics of the ingredients they source.

In fact, 66% of consumers try to have a positive impact through everyday actions such as reducing plastic use and food waste, according to the Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey. And of course, consumer scrutiny extends to the food and beverages they buy.  Increasingly, today's consumers demand greater transparency across the supply chain, which means that food producers must consider the environmental impact of individual ingredients alongside traditional considerations of taste, nutrition, function, and performance.

“People are re-thinking their way of living, looking for options that have built-in eco and ethical impacts that do good on their behalf, including treating workers fairly, fulfilling legal tax obligations, and contributing to humanitarian projects,” said Aurora Giribuola, global innovation marketing leader for IFF’s RE-IMAGINE WASTE™ innovation program. “It is about transparency: people expect companies to be clear about who they are and what they do, acknowledging the bad with the good, delivering authenticity, honesty and ultimately building trust.”

That’s why IFF's Nourish division has launched Sustainable Stories, a series which details how individual ingredients in the company’s broad portfolio leverage innovative technologies to support customers in designing sustainable food and beverages that meet today’s consumer demands.

"We can play our part, connecting the industry and consumers by increasing awareness of the building blocks of food and beverages. We strongly believe that our customers are essential players in making it easier for consumers to make smart choices. IFF's Nourish Sustainable Stories were born from this need."

Do More Good Plan: IFF’s ESG+ Strategy

IFF’s strategy is designed to accelerate innovation, drive integrated solutions, and create next-generation, sustainable technologies that meet and exceed the expectations of its stakeholders. Sustainable Stories are anchored in the company’s cross-divisional strategy, the ‘Do More Good Plan.’ IFF’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) roadmap is a set of ambitious 2030 targets for the company’s global operations and supply chain, comprised of four “ESG+” areas of action: Environmental, Social, Governance plus Sustainable Solutions.

“We at IFF believe so deeply in doing more good, we’ve baked sustainability into our business model, with the goal of helping our customers to achieve their own ESG goals by choosing the company’s sustainable solutions,” said Mikkel Thrane,  good growth leader, IFF Global Sustainability.  “Beginning with circular design principles, IFF is driving innovation to support health & wellbeing while reducing both IFFs and our customers environmental footprint on the planet.”

Nourish Sustainable Stories

That’s where IFF’s Nourish Sustainable Stories series come in, kicking off with eight ingredients:

1. Vanilla: ​IFF Vanilla offers the great-tasting vanilla products while prioritizing responsible sourcing that protects both the environment and local communities. We’re recognized for our daily efforts to improve the livelihood of Vanilla farmers and their families through different socially responsible certifications.

2. Citrus: ​IFF responds to the worldwide sustainability challenges faced by the Citrus industry through our global innovation program that makes natural citrus taste designs more sustainable by adding non-citrus derived alternatives, and by utilizing upcycled products and circular design principles.

3. Natural Colors:​ From paprika to annatto, IFF uses natural ingredients to elevate appearance and flavor perception while doing more good through vertical integration. IFF works directly with farmers partners, from growing to processing. This enables the company to support workers and their communities through fair treatment, equitable pay, and opportunities for greater economic security.

4. Pectin: ​Extracted from citrus peels, a byproduct often discarded, pectin enables texture and improves mouthfeel across products, including low and no-sugar confectionary and protein stabilization in beverages.

5. Food powders:​ With food waste cited as one of the most challenging current environmental issues, IFF is supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 12.3) of reducing food waste through its upcycled powders, transforming farm-rescued produce or fruit and vegetable processing side streams into nutritional ingredients.

6. Carrageenan and Alginate:​ Seaweeds grow naturally in the ocean, and IFF's Responsible Sourcing Program (RSP) on seaweeds contains a comprehensive set of 'Environmental & Social Good Practices for Seaweed Harvesting' that includes a variety of key environmental and social criteria. The RSP is currently being expanded with the aim of being applied at all our seaweed harvesting locations.

7. Soy Protein: ​A great choice to formulate plant-based products—or products which combine plant and animal-derived proteins—because it has a significantly lower environmental impact than commonly used animal-based proteins, documented in life cycle assessment (LCA) studies.

8. Emulsifiers: ​Manufactured using RSPO-certified palm oil with a 35% lower carbon footprint vs conventional palm oil according to recent LCA studies. IFF’s emulsifiers help create better-for-you products while doing more good for the environment.

And these eight ingredients are only the beginning, with the company planning to roll out more Nourish Sustainable Stories in 2023.

As shared in IFF’s 2022 ESG+ Report, by 2030, all new innovations must include a sustainability value proposition. Why? The goal is to help IFF customers make meaningful progress toward their own ESG goals, and to allow customers and consumers to save 50 times more CO2e than generated at IFF’s own manufacturing sites.

“Where we believe our products can make one of the biggest differences from a sustainability perspective is through their positive life cycle impacts during the use phase,” said Mikkel Thrane. “The scale of benefits we can enable for our customers—IFF’s ‘handprint’ far outweighs IFF’s manufacturing and operational ‘footprint’. Through life cycle assessment, we quantify our solutions' environmental impacts and benefits. We then leverage those learnings across all divisions as we partner with our customers to deliver end-to-end solutions. Combined with regenerative approaches and circular design, we support our customers in meeting their ESG goals, achieving Science Based Targets on climate, and Doing More Good.”

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“We are not only contributing to the United Nations SDGs at a global scale, but also helping our customers reach their goals as they relate to the environment, circular economy, and health and wellness,” Thrane continued. “With 55% of consumers globally believing that brands are more accountable than governments, people expect companies and institutions to build trust by being honest about who they are and what they do and actively take part in creating a fairer, better and safer world."

For more information on IFF’s Nourish Sustainable Stories series, visit iff.com/sustainable-stories​.

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