Supply chain disruption is adding to the challenge of managing ingredient inventories. Even major food producers have found themselves in a tough bind when an ingredient suddenly becomes unavailable.
Ingredient shortages explain, in part, why many grocery store shelves sat empty in 2022. Supply chain shortages also result in price volatility. These ebbs and flows in the market make it difficult for producers to maintain even cash flow or determine retail pricing that consumers are willing to pay.
Price volatility is an inherent risk with commodity ingredients, whether or not those ingredients are hard to come by. In 2022, fresh ingredients like milk, cream and cheese experienced record-high prices not seen in nearly a decade.
Producers generally want to streamline their inventories and optimize their supply chains with more readily available, price-stable ingredients and fewer SKUs. However, they don’t want to compromise quality to do it.
Risks and Rewards of Optimizing Ingredient Inventory
In the end, using readily available ingredients that work across multiple applications comes with both risks and rewards.
A major risk of relying on fewer ingredients is that supply disruption could leave a manufacturer scrambling for alternatives if those ingredients become unavailable. As a result, some producers may actually increase SKUs in search of alternatives or “backup” ingredients.
Storing a wide range of ingredients, on the other hand, is costly. Storage and safety requirements surrounding ingredients — especially fresh dairy — significantly increase costs and carry a greater risk of spoilage and food waste.
Ingredients with minimal risks associated with supply, spoilage and price fluctuations are prioritized over riskier options. A key to reliable, price-stable sourcing starts with vetting the ingredient manufacturer, not just the ingredients.
Sustainable, Reliable, Price-Stable Ingredients
Grande Bravo® functional whey protein, produced by Grande Custom Ingredients Group, is an example of a price-stable ingredient that can partially replace heavy cream in creamy applications like soups, sauces and dips. Another of their ingredients, Grande Gusto®, replaces a portion of cheese or cheese powder in cheese sauces.
Because the company partners with producer farms that deliver exclusively to them, they are able to control the production and delivery of raw ingredients, ensuring an uninterrupted supply.
Many food producers have switched from using commodity ingredients in favor of Grande Bravo or Grande Gusto as a first choice in cream and cheese-based formulas. That’s because they’ve experienced the benefits of consistent supplies and consistent pricing, allowing them to more accurately forecast profits and streamline inventories.
Because these products are shelf stable and can be incorporated into multiple formulations, manufacturers can also streamline product development and production, leading to a faster speed to market.
Availability and Price Stability Aren’t Enough
Optimizing inventory is a great benefit, but is rarely the top driver when selecting ingredients for use in formulations. Availability and price stability are only beneficial when the ingredient performs as intended and delivers a quality eating experience for consumers.
Both Grande Bravo and Grande Gusto can be integrated into food processing systems easily. Furthermore, they deliver superior flavor and texture, as noted by independent consumers and trained sensory panels (when compared to the control in their respective formulations). Each product is a distinctive whey-derived ingredient that also resonates with consumers as being a familiar, clean-label product.
Added benefits of each include improved nutrition. Both ingredients reduce fat and calories when replacing fresh dairy. Grande Gusto also reduces sodium by approximately 10% when replacing fresh or powdered cheese, while actually enhancing salty notes due to its high milk mineral content.
Contact our expert team of specialists and food scientists to further explore how these innovative ingredients can help optimize inventories and supply chains, and improve formulations.