Great food brands all have one thing in common: great ingredients. And there’s no better place to explore the most innovative ingredients and formulation techniques than at SupplySide West, the premier health and nutrition innovation event of the year.
The Skai team is looking forward to meeting some of the biggest movers and shakers in this space and sharing the incredible transformational potential of Skai’s platform at this year’s event.
Here’s a taste of what Skai has made possible for others in the ingredient manufacturing business.
Predicting the next big ingredient
Five years ago, a leading food ingredients manufacturer came to us to explore white space opportunities and mitigate the risk of missing out on the next big trend. This manufacturer knew that plant-based proteins were on the rise and that they wanted to invest in this space. But the ingredient options were vast, and their own research wasn’t clear on which would rise to the top.
Skai developed an algorithm to identify the non-dairy, protein-rich ingredients that were poised to begin trending, and one emerged as a clear winner: oat milk. The ingredient manufacturer pitched this ingredient to major milk brands and realized 15x revenue growth soon after.
Today, oat milk is a $360MM market.
Keeping up with a changing world
The last year has brought many changes, including some significant ones in the ingredient market. COVID-19 gave many consumers reason to think more carefully about their health; as a result, consumer conversations about mood and stress, digestibility, energy, and immunity are up. At the same time, supply chain issues have disrupted the market and introduced new, more nimble suppliers into the landscape.
The rapid pace of change in today’s world means that capitalizing on new trends and growing your market share requires the most up-to-date and thorough understanding of your market and consumers. The old ways of acquiring this understanding—face-to-face market research, consumer focus groups, analyzing internal sales data, etc.—are no longer enough, as these methods are narrow in focus, backward-looking, and hard to scale. Today’s leading brands are shifting to advanced analytics, which includes:
- Sourcing external data across the consumer, market, and product landscape to complement existing internal sources
- Connecting all data in a single platform view, rather than trying to parse unstructured or siloed data
- Contextualizing data to separate the signals from the noise and understand the why, not just the what
- Using predictive analytics to gain foresight into future trends, instead of relying on hindsight from previous sales numbers or consumer research
- Scaling the impact of insights across the organization rather than reserving insights just for those with data science capabilities
Skai provides all of this, with data on thousands of ingredients specific to markets like food, beverage, beauty, vitamins and minerals, and more. All of these ingredients can be analyzed alongside other taxonomy values (like features, benefits, ingredients, nutrients, colors, and textures) so organizations can truly understand the context of their data results – not just what the data says, but also why.
That context is key to understanding how to position certain ingredients in a pitch to food manufacturers, stay relevant in a changing market, and keep on top of trends and fads (and tell the difference). PepsiCo, for example, uses the Skai platform to link specific ingredients back to consumer benefits in order to understand how and why consumers are interested in them.
Identifying white space ingredient opportunities: a case study from the vitamins, minerals, and supplements (VMS) market
We consulted our VMS playbook (a searchable data lake and set of analytical models related to the VMS space) to find out which health benefits consumers discuss the most. The answer: immunity.
We dove a little deeper to explore the newest ingredients tied to the concept of immunity and how they’ve been resonating with consumers, to reveal the white space where consumer interest and production opportunities are rising. Our analysis indicated that elderberry was an ingredient mentioned in 27% of current consumer discussions on immunity, an 80% increase over the past year, indicating a clear and recent rise in popularity among consumers. Next, we explored the brands that offer this niche ingredient and how consumers react to their products.
Examining consumer sentiment by retail channel revealed that a specific brand was dominating consumer discussions about immunity and elderberries, despite a relatively low sales volume. This information creates several opportunities for different VMS players. Competitors could examine and imitate the brand’s product messaging, to capture more consumer interest. Ingredient manufacturers could use this data to pitch elderberries to new VMS brands. Drilling down further into the data on product formulation, consumer sentiment, and related benefits could allow an ingredient manufacturer to recommend a specific formulation and related benefit messaging that would closely align with consumer interests.
A wide variety of connected and contextualized data sources makes it possible to identify macro trends and then drill into the details. Here are just a few of the most significant VMS trends on the rise in the second half of 2021:
- Gummies are a new CBD product formulation getting a lot of attention from key opinion leaders.
- Ashwaganda is reaching market saturation, with consumer discussions on Amazon declining 32% while product availability continues to grow.
- A 254% spike in discussions related to green tea include many new claims and benefits that consumers now associate with green tea-infused products.
Say hello at SupplySide West
Interested in learning more about how Skai can help drive your business forward? Contact us to request a personalized demo during the SupplySide West event. We look forward to seeing you there!