Natural Products Insider

MAY-JUN 2019

INSIDER is the leading information source for marketers, manufacturers and formulators of dietary supplements, healthy foods and cosmeceuticals. Since 1997, INSIDER has been serving the needs of the global nutrition industry.

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naturalproductsinsider . com 37 of any kind aligns with your company values, mission and culture," he said. "Natural product brands that are run on a passion to provide consumers with the highest quality formulation and ingredients within their product to maximize the health and wellness of the customer will always win over companies with ulterior motives. Every company wants to fi nd fi nancial success and growth, but for us, true success starts with the end customer, partnering with like-minded companies, and the rest will follow suit." As an early-adopter organic supplier, Maheshvari also ascribed to the power of aligned ideals. "We have selectively partnered with customers that have embodied our beliefs and values of bettering the world and consumers with clean products," he noted. Fittingly, some of the strongest supplier relationships develop "organically." Majeed shared the story of a customer he spoke with years ago; the daughter of the company owners was involved with co-op farming in Africa. They told him about her dedication and stories of the farmers in those areas. "I could see we shared a similar passion, so I shared how we also work closely with farmers, beyond just paying them a fair price, but in fact actually helping with things like with monetary loans, fulfi lling irrigation requirements, and teaching them about best agricultural practices, which touched the heart of the owners," he recalled. "Not too long ago, they visited our farms in southern India, where we spent several days touring various farms and meeting with farmers. Today, they are one of our largest buyers." Beyond shared values, brand holders must also sense their own value in the partnership. Kate Pastor, senior vice president of Superba North America, echoed other suppliers who said they genuinely care about their customers' success. "Customer-centricity is at our core," she stated. "Customer solutions are never one size fi ts all; therefore, we work side by side with our partners to customize various programs and initiatives across the board." Rice said a supplier should be able to offer its customers a competitive edge to help them stand out in the marketplace. "They [suppliers] should be able to provide more value than just supplying a company with a cheaper ingredient, product or service. If it's all about price, it can only go downhill after that," he cautioned. "Look for companies that provide intrinsic value beyond list price. Can they save you time? Money in overall formulation cost? Regulatory and science efforts? Fill in any gaps your company might have in personnel, technology and/or any other resources?" Steve Fink, vice president of marketing at PLT Health Solutions, said his company provides a holistic working relationship by engaging customers at multiple levels across the organizations. "For example, our scientifi c, regulatory and marketing personnel work directly with similar disciplines within the customer," he explained. "There is a deeper sharing of goals and aspirations, and more feedback on potential directions." Pam Stauffer, global marketing programs manager at Cargill, deduced, "The days of food and beverage makers going it alone are long gone, if they ever existed." She added, "In today's marketplace, ingredient suppliers don't just fi ll orders—we're delivering real value to our customers by leveraging our deep consumer insights; vast global supply chains; broad ingredient portfolio; and extensive formulation, application, ingredient and regulatory expertise. Close collaboration, often starting early in the ideation process, is the new norm." Shitij Chabba, vice president of marketing, human nutrition and health, North America, DSM Nutritional Products, agreed more brand owners want the increased value derived from integrated partnerships with suppliers. It's a positive change he said helps accelerate innovation. Additionally, Chabba noted, "Our customers expect us to speak their language." To help accommodate, DSM structured its business by market segment, so its functional experts can better understand customers' challenges, whether pertaining specifi cally to early-life nutrition, dietary supplements, food and beverage, or other areas. One fi nal consideration in building stronger brand/supplier partnerships: the end user. Maheshvari said it's important to remember consumers are becoming increasingly invested in their purchases— not to mention aware of their purchasing power. "This new era of consumerism makes it important for brand owners to really convey not only their product and price point, but also the story behind the product and brand," he shared. "That story can include the values that the brand stands for, innovations and strides made for the product, and the supply chain behind that product. More consumers want to be empowered by this knowledge/information/data, and [they] want to make an informed decision on what they are buying." Fink agreed. "As consumer demands for innovation, trust and transparency increase and as the world becomes more quality- conscious, successful ingredient suppliers will continue to make the investments in personnel, systems and infrastructure to become a better partner with consumer product companies." Perhaps the best news for quality-driven companies? As Fink put it, "The days of 'ingredient for a price' are quickly coming to a close." Pastor also gave a nod to the high road, noting the efforts to build better relationships are fueling other types of dividends. "Open innovation thinking, in which brands collaborate with suppliers to co-create unique value, helps drive success," she concluded. "When brands can harness the determination, knowledge and creativity of their partners, everyone wins." Brand-Supplier Relationship "As consumer demands for innovation, trust and transparency increase and as the world becomes more quality-conscious, successful ingredient suppliers will continue to make the investments in personnel, systems and infrastructure to become a better partner with consumer product companies. " — Steve Fink, vice president of marketing, PLT Health Solutions

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