Innovative texture trends: Ingredion aims to tap into Chinese consumer demands with extra capacity

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

The new facility will be located next to its existing Shandong plant, China ©Ingredion
The new facility will be located next to its existing Shandong plant, China ©Ingredion

Related tags Ingredion China Texture Starch

Ingredion will double the capacity at its Shandong modified starch facility by 2022, to tap into China’s growing hunger for innovative textures in foods.

According to Valdirene Licht, Ingredion’s senior vice-president and president of Asia-Pacific, texture innovation is a key trend in China, as consumers are increasingly seeking healthier, more diverse, premium and convenient food options across all food categories.

Licht attributes these consumer trends to the growing affluence and inclination towards premiumisation and digitalisation.

For example, in dairy, Ingredion observed a ‘premiumisation’ trend and indulgence needs from the end market, which leads to a demand for more indulgent dessert-like texture, a rich mouthfeel, and clean meltaway taste.

In the savoury and food service segments, there is a trend in elastic cheesy-like texture, pulpy texture for a more authentic appearance, and prolonged crispiness for batter and breading.

One way to achieve these innovative textures is through the use of specialty starches.

Licht told FoodNavigator-Asia​, specialty starches were those that have been modified using physical, chemical or enzymatic technology.

Specialty food starches provide more desirable textures such as thickening, gelling, emulsification and binding that hold up well during food processing and the subsequent shelf life to provide the consumer with appealing food products that remain stable during storage and consumption​.” These are mostly made from grains and vegetables such as corn, potato, wheat, tapioca and rice.

The new facility will cater its specialty starches to local and regional customers.

According to Jacques Guglielmi, Ingredion’s vice president and general manager, Greater China, the new facility is located next to local farmers who can provide high-quality raw materials, such as non-GMO corn.

This facility not only provides us with faster access to raw materials, it also allows us to effectively implement our sustainable agriculture program benefiting local farmers​,”

The company has two manufacturing facilities in China, the other in Shanghai. Licht said the new facility can be scaled up for more production capacity in the future.

Coronavirus impact

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has caused the supply chain in China and abroad to be affected, but as businesses start to return to work, so is the supply chain.

According to Licht, demand for its food ingredients have been consistent: “We still see a stable demand for food, even with the shift from foodservice to homes​.”

During the lockdown in Chinese cities, Licht said Ingredion managed to gain special approval from local authorities to resume production after Chinese New Year, as it falls under essential supplies.

Our factories have recovered from the production loss caused by workers having to serve 14 days of quarantine upon returning from their hometowns after Chinese New Year​.”

Licht added that the company’s Pandemic Project Management Office (PMO) was able to monitor the COVID-19 situation as it evolves rapidly.

Considering the global nature of our supply chain and the unprecedented challenges that we are experiencing, we have initiated the appropriate contingency plans by contacting our key suppliers and contractors to verify that we have suitable plans in place and are engaging with alternative suppliers as a precaution​,” Licht said.

APAC strategy

Apart from starch-based texturisers, Ingredion is also focused on growing its plant-based proteins, sugar reduction and specialty sweeteners, food systems, clean and simple businesses.

In its Q4 2019 earnings call in February this year, the company’s management explained China accounted for about 2% to 2.5% of Ingredion’s overall sales. The company posted total sales of around USD6.2 billion for FY19.

The company is further advancing its growth strategy in APAC. Earlier this month, it acquired a 75% stake in Malaysia-headquarter stevia supplier, PureCircle.

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