The new tool, launched at the recent Institute of Food Technologists show in Chicago, is aimed at the customers’ needs so that they can quickly size up how complicated a new formula challenge might be and how Univar might be able to help.
“It makes like life for the sales rep a little easier, but I didn’t design this for the sales rep. I designed this is for the customer,” Rick Richard, Univar’s director of food ingredients told FoodNavigator-USA.
Focus on trends
“It’s based around the major trends in the industry,” Richard said. “We’ll have flexibility to adjust the trends as things change in the industry.”
“We have a lot of focus at Univar under the sodium reduction trend and the sugar reduction trend. There are formulation resources on here, educational resources and marketing resources,” he said.
“There is a lot of information in the all the different categories, such as health and wellness, labeling trends such as gluten free and natural. We also include information grouped under product enhancement, such as adding antioxidants or mineral fortification. And we have processing improvement information. So there is more to this tool than just a formulator,” Richard said.
To start, the labeling trends tab will include sub categories on gluten free and natural, Richard said. Future enhancements could include other categories such as non GMO or Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods compliant, he said.
Besides having information grouped according to trends and product categories, customers can also group information via specific searches, Richard said. A customer pondering a new cookie formula could punch in “cookie” and come up with a plethora of results pertaining to cookie manufacture, he said.
Room to grow
Univar, based in Redmond, WA, is a chemical company with a food ingredients division, Richard said. The company distributes products from a number of suppliers, and their help was key to developing a robust formulation resource, he said.
“We already had a lot of the background information, but it is a more organized fashion so a customer can find it,” Richards said.
“The information came from the suppliers we represent and who participated in this tool. As new suppliers come on board we will add more information to make it more robust for the customers,” he said. “And if I add a new supplier tomorrow, my customers can sign up to get an e-mail that says I’ve added new information that would be of interest to them.”
Richard said feedback at the show was positive on the tool’s functionality and ease of use. Especially welcome, he said, were the links to pertinent aspects of the Food Safety and Modernization Act as they bear upon food formulation choices.
“We are a distributor than can bridge that gap between supplier and customer with formulation help and with a lot of ingredient choices,” Richard said.