In an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia and NutraIngredients-Asia, Kobus De Klerk, global innovation leader (sales application food ingredients) of DuPont Nutrition & Health and Dr Li YongJing, regional president (APAC) of DuPont Nutrition & Health, revealed DuPont’s aspiration for its newly opened innovation centre in Japan.
Located in the Kanagawa Prefecture, Tokyo, it is hoped that the 700m2 innovation centre will boost sales growth by providing an array of customised food and nutrition solutions.
This is also the newest addition to DuPont’s growing list of innovation centres and DuPont’s first centre in Japan. The firm is currently running more than 30 innovation centres globally.
“The lab here the purpose is to accelerate business development, so in APAC, we are targeting two-digit growth all the time,” Li said.
“The market is currently growing at between one or two percent here in Japan, we like to see that it grows by four to five times,” De Klerk added.
De Klerk highlighted that Japan is a highly competitive market, with 10,000 new product launches per year, a rate that surpasses even the US.
The centre in Japan will focus on providing solutions for the local ageing market.
The firm has identified four areas of focus for its elderly product development, including improving immunity, digestive system, muscle strength and swallowing abilities.
“The elderly people have different requirements on food, such as weaker immune, digestive system, muscle and bone. Their ability to swallow also changes. That means the industry has to provide solutions to help the elderly," Li said.
As such, the firm will provide food nutritional solutions to help the elderly improve and maintain their body functions.
For instance, the firm has come up with the idea of a night yogurt, which the elderly can consume before they sleep.
Containing proteins from plant-based sources such as soy, the product helps build muscle during sleep. Whey protein and casein are also present in the night yogurt.
The firm also claims that the multi-protein yogurt is a better muscle building source better than single protein yogurt. The plant-based protein yogurt also serves as a healthier option, Li said.
In addition, it has produced chocolate containing the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactic HN019™ for the elderly.
The chocolate supports the immune system of seniors by increasing phagocytic capacity, improving NK-cell activity, increasing the number of bifidobacteria in the intestine of the elderly and improving colonic transit time.
Besides the products targeted at the elderly consumers, the firm also seeks to improve products for the general population, such as creating bread with prolonged freshness via its G4 enzyme technology.
Other food innovations will come in the form of dairy, beverages, bakery and dietary supplement pills.
Global science but local taste
While the innovation centre in Japan caters to the local needs, De Klerk emphasised that ideas and innovations spanning from the centre will eventually influence the broader APAC market.
“Japan is a key market influence…We want to export similar food concepts to other countries which are also facing the global ageing trend,” he said.
He added that all innovation centres would exchange information on local markets to enhance their innovation capabilities.
As for the Japan market, he said that the key solution was to provide “global science but local taste and texture.”
DuPont's speciality products company reaped a global net sales of $21 billion last year. The business spread across electronics and imaging, transportation and advanced polymers, safety and construction, nutrition and biosciences.
Out of which, the nutrition and biosciences business was the largest contributor, bringing in $6 billion for the company, while the others brought in $5 billion each.