Cambridge Commodities taps into consumer trend toward convenient nutritionals

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18 Sep 2017 --- The way in which the markets of sports nutrition and health and wellbeing are merging is presenting a unique challenge for companies in the nutritional space. Clare Baker, Cambridge Commodities’ Head of Product Development, spoke with NutritionInsight about making a product that is popular across several market segments and other opportunities consumer trends in the nutritionals market currently present.

“It’s about getting a product that’s attractive to all. [This means] that a very hardcore gym-goer, as well as the Saturday gym-goer is going to want to take it,” Baker tells NutritionInsight. “For us, it’s about analyzing what those needs of those consumers are. It’s about making sure that we can balance different products selling in the same formats to target all of those inpiduals.”

Cambridge Commodities seems well placed to meet this challenge and others. It supplies 2,500 ingredients and product solutions for the sports nutrition, health and wellbeing, pet and equine, and food industries. The company describes itself as a family-owned business that employs 100+ staff from the local community at its headquarters in Cambridgeshire, England. The company is now looking at future opportunities, both collaborative and inpidual, to succeed in the very competitive merging markets that it serves.

“R&D is a big part of this business,” Baker says, summing up the company’s approach. “How we can [present] the next new products to the market is where we see the future coming, along with looking for unique ingredients. So [we are] working with brand owners to find the best exclusive products and then see how we can put those into a finished format.”

Innovations in the pipeline
Alternative delivery forms would seem to be at the forefront of Cambridge Commodities’ plans when it comes to new product ideas.

“What we’re looking for at the moment is to see how we can offer alternative delivery systems of the nutritional raw ingredients that we supply into the merging markets of sports and nutrition, health and wellbeing, and the food industry,” Baker says.

“We see a huge shift towards [demand for] functional foods: healthy snacks, healthy children’s snacks, [ways in which] people can get their added vitamins and minerals not through taking a capsule or a tablet,” Baker continues. “So at the moment we’re looking at things like fortified jelly pots, carbonated drinks with added nutritional benefits, ready-to-drink juices and also oral sprays. We’ve got active projects going on in all of those areas while still developing traditional formats such as tablets and capsules.”

Asked to make suggestions about what might be popular in the future, Baker seems enthused by making life easier for physically active consumers by producing convenient sports nutrition snacks. This is on trend: Innova Market Insights data show that sports nutrition launches tracked have increased significantly since 2012 and show no signs of slowing down, featuring a CAGR (2012-2016) of +12.6 percent. Convenience is a paramount positioning within the category, being featured in eight out of 10 launches tracked in 2016. The convenience sub-positioning boasts a CAGR (2012-2016) of +48.7 percent.

“The biggest excitement comes from products that hit that convenience trend, so maybe protein snacks that can be in a single-serving product,” Baker says of the company’s plans. 

Click to EnlargeNew ingredients feature health and sustainability benefits
Of all the new ingredients that Cambridge Commodities is looking at, two stand out especially, according to Baker.

“We’ve got quite a few exciting new ingredients, Baobest being one of those,” she says.

Baobest is a baobab fruit powder, which is high in potassium, antioxidants and fiber.

“Harvesting the baobab fruit used to create Baobest is helping to support the local people of Africa by creating an income for them. Baobab Foods work to ensure that the best practice forestry techniques are used so the baobab supply is managed sustainably,” Baker notes.

“We’ve also recently become an exclusive distributor of a product called Phytofare, which is a green tea extract,” Baker adds. “It’s a more highly bioavailable green tea product than those currently on the market and the technology [with] which it’s produced means that all of the eight green tea catechins are left intact. It’s a really interesting product, especially for use in products such as green tea lattes.”

Baker notes that another undeniable trend is that of salt and sugar reduction, and the company is not shying away from the challenge of producing innovative products to meet these needs.

“We’re seeing a lot of consumers at the moment wanting to find salt and sugar replacers,” Baker says. “Our R&D team has been working to develop blends that address these consumer needs. We’ve got Sucari sugar replacer blend, and we’ve also got an Exalt salt replacer range, which covers a range of low-sodium and no-sodium salt replacers – that’s a big one. So when we’re looking and working with the food companies, how we can include those in their products is key.”

Expansion plans show global ambitions
The company is also aiming to leave no stone unturned in its drive for new products as it carries out its expansion plans, both throughout Europe and worldwide.

“At the moment, we are expanding throughout Europe. We’ve currently got 115 employees at Cambridge Commodities, and Europe is probably our biggest expansion area,” Baker says. “We have added several offices throughout Europe. And have a growing presence throughout the US and South Africa.”

As it is headquartered in the south of England, Cambridge Commodities undeniably faces uncertainties with regard to the effects of Brexit, although Baker believes that they will be minimal. 

“At the moment, it’s an unknown as to how Brexit is going to affect us. I think having the offices throughout Europe and not just sitting in the UK – although our warehouse is here – [means] our European salespeople are all residing within the countries that they are looking after. So we don’t believe that there is going to be an impact for us, but if there is, we’re in a position to do what we need to,” Baker concludes.

By Lucy Gunn and Paul Creasy

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