Ingredient functionality, for us, is all about understanding what our ingredients add to the food matrix, in terms of their physical and chemical functionalities. Agricultural products, by definition, are natural and will always have a slight degree of variance. Origin and growth process combined with post-harvest processing will help determine the functionality of our raw materials and our ingredients. Knowing that, we think alongside our customers about how they can best incorporate our ingredients in their end-applications and help them make their ideas and ambitions for new products real.
Winning the battle for market share starts with meeting our customer’s needs for great tasting, great looking products with an optimal mouthfeel. But great taste, snap and bite, with an appealing product color, do not always match the increasing consumer desire for fewer additives in their food products. This is why we are always looking for opportunities to develop natural ingredients without the use of additives to suit clean label applications. Our nut ingredients deliver incredible texture, taste and nutrition without any complex artificial ingredients.
Several natural ingredients across our portfolio can help you recover missing elements like color and flavor. Take our spices – they can help formulators create a realistic, meat-like color in plant-based alternatives, all while maintaining a clean-label and adding to the overall flavor profile. And then there is cocoa. Cocoa powder can be used as a coloring agent in vegetarian/vegan products: deZaan Fresco Cacao F11FR is a non-bitter, mild cocoa powder that can be used to create fresh chocolate plant-based yogurts.
Another example is the development of our “TrueDark” cocoa powder, whilst staying away from color enhancing additives. And there is more. How we do it? If you work with us, we will share our darkest secrets!
Across our portfolio, health and nutrition benefits – both long-standing and emerging – are a common denominator. The nutritional value of our nuts, the macro and micronutrients of dairy, the theobromine and antioxidants in cocoa and the health associations of many spices really form a wealth of opportunities for our customers. We are always looking to see how these benefits can be protected and enhanced during the manufacturing process, whilst still tasting great.
With the world’s resources under pressure, we seek to get everything we can from our raw materials. Not only to create value for our farmers, but also to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. This often uncovers new and exciting opportunities. Our sweet and fruity cascara for instance, was developed out of coffee husks, which is the skin and pulp of the coffee cherry fruit. The ingredient is now used for beverage infusions and concentrates across multiple applications to meet the growing trend for healthy indulgence.
We are excited to be represented by our deZaan team, one of our legacy cocoa brands, at the 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show on June 25-27, 2023 at the Javits Center in NYC. deZaan offers a range of cocoa powders designed for chefs and artisans and made with the finest cocoa ingredients available. The range showcases the full spectrum of what cocoa powder can deliver with its complex range of flavor profiles, colors and technical properties. Explore the endless possibilities of cocoa.
The trend for bold colors and flavors in food and beverages is rising this year. With consumers increasingly exposed to an array of global food trends, including a wide range of exotic flavors and colors, many are becoming more experimental. At the same time, confectionery products, treats, and snacks are often a moment of fun and relaxation in consumers’ daily lives, so they can be a great opportunity for experimenting with new and exciting shades.
Sydney Valla was an undergrad at Fresno State when she first discovered ofi (olam food ingredients) at a career fair. They were passing out tomato-shaped stress balls and recruiting new grads for a management trainee program. She signed-up for an interview and the rest is her-story.
What motivates you when you wake up and come into work?
My team! There are six of us who are 100% dedicated to the Spices eCommerce business and we have a combined 35+ years’ experience at ofi. Together, we work to be a solution provider for new and existing customers, put in place processes to help the business grow and overcome any challenges that are thrown our way.
Anything you’d like to add to help others succeed?
Being in numerous different positions throughout my career (supply chain, product line, sales) has made me a more well-rounded employee and allowed me to view problems from many different angles to find better solutions. I’m glad that I joined a company that offered career growth and expansion. Being a sponge during the early stages of my career allowed me to soak up lots of different information.
What has been your favorite moment at ofi so far?
When I was a product line manager, there was a large fast-food chain that featured one of our ingredients in a delicious and highly promoted LTO. It was so cool to go through the drive thru, pick up lunch, and know that one of the products that I helped to sell was in an item that was being sold across the country.
Our company purpose is ‘be the change for good food and a healthy future.’ In what way do you live our purpose through your work?
Through the eCommerce offerings, we can connect with new customers and segments that have previously been difficult to reach. This allows us to work with new customers to make educated purchasing decisions about where their product comes from, our sustainability offerings, and more. Outside of work, I sit on the Board of Directors for the Central California Food Bank which feeds over 300,000 community members in the Central Valley.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.