Our next meeting was with Rod Sowders, CEO of Synergy Flavors, which has been steadily expanded its empire in the past couple of years with the acquisition of Chicago-based beverage flavors expert Sethness-Greenleaf, Ohio-based natural extracts specialist Sensus, and a new flavor facility just outside of São Paulo, Brazil.
The latter deal means Synergy can manufacture its products directly in Brazil, said Sowders. "Previously we've been exporting products from the US and working with contract manufacturers. Now we can be far more responsive to customer needs."
While it has been largely “business as usual” since the acquisition for Sensus (which has a facility in Hamilton, Ohio, producing coffee and tea concentrates/essences and vegetable and herb concentrates/essences), production at Sethness's Chicago facility is being gradually consolidated into Synergy’s state-of-the-art site in Wauconda, IL, over the next six months or so, said Sowders.
Protein flavor interactions
So what's happening on the R&D front?
A particular growth opportunity for Synergy lately has been helping manufacturers keen to cash in on the current protein craze to ensure that their products still taste good, he said.
While a few years ago, hardcore bodybuilders were happy to eat chalky protein shakes and bars just to up their protein levels, the expansion of protein into mass market sports nutrition, weight management and general health & wellness products has put more pressure on manufacturers to improve the taste and texture of these products to make them acceptable to a wider audience, he added.
Synergy is particularly well-placed to help firms using whey protein as it is owned by Irish dairy ingredients expert Carbery.
However, with growing interest in plant-based proteins from pea and soy to algae, more work is also planned to tackle novel formulation/flavor issues that new protein ingredients present, he said.