Nicole Astra: Welcome to Talking Plant Protein. I'm Nicole Astra. Joining me in the talk lab studio today is technical developer for Roquette in the Americas, Carol Rainford. Welcome to the show.
Carol Rainford: Thank you, Nicole.
Nicole Astra: It's so nice to welcome people in person. So as I said, it's a special treat. So again, we're so grateful that you've driven up from Indiana and are joining us today.
Carol Rainford: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.
Nicole Astra: So Roquette is synonymous with excellence. Their industry expertise, their collaboration, innovation, it just really goes on and on for decades. But I want to lift the veil a little bit and go behind the scenes because something that you do particularly well are your partnerships and it's more than client care. So I want you to bring me behind the science of these partnerships. What can you tell me about the CTS team?
Carol Rainford: Well, CTS, it stands for Customer Technical Service and that's just what it sounds. We are a team, a global team and we're dedicated to provide support for our customers. And that support comes in the methods of deep ingredient knowledge and strong technical leadership. So we support our customers that way.
Nicole Astra: What's your history with Roquette?
Carol Rainford: I started out as an application scientist, and now I'm in the role of a technical developer. So within the CTS group, we have about 60 scientists who are either application scientists or technical developers.
Nicole Astra: And what's the difference between the two?
Carol Rainford: The difference is, well, the application scientist is more of a lab based role. They're the scientists making things happen, making the prototypes. So they use the product, our product knowledge of our, in Roquette's ingredient portfolio. They have processing knowledge and formulation knowledge. So they really put the prototype together for our customer. And right now it's really an exciting time to be an application scientist. The food world is changing greatly right now.
Nicole Astra: Rapidly.
Carol Rainford: Very, and it's, so it's bringing some challenges. We're kind of in uncharted territory. So that application scientist knows to use, they know what to pick from our Roquette portfolio. They know what starts to pick, what maybe polyol to pick, what grade of our neutralist plant protein to pick and to put in a formula. So again, it's rather challenging. We're using those ingredients in a lot of beverage and savory applications that are not traditional. Along with the science knowledge, they really need to bring a strong sense of creativity to their position as well.
Nicole Astra: And just how hands on is the experience from the client's perspective?
Carol Rainford: It's as much or as little as they want.
Nicole Astra: Okay.
Carol Rainford: Some companies, some of our customers are very private. They just want some basic knowledge and some are more, it's like we would, we need your help. And so, I mean, that's our ultimate goal. We want our customer to be successful. Their success is our success. So they can work with us at any point in that process, that new product development design process. So we can start at the beginning. We can offer some, maybe marketing trends, some marketing data. We can go on and provide some paperwork for them, look at their application and tell them, "Well, this is what your ingredient statement would look like. This is what your nutritional facts panel would look like." We can go on and do some work, early work in the lab. We can do some prototype, we can rapidly develop some different prototypes for them to look at, see what they would like.
Then we can move on to maybe a pilot plan scale up and see if that works for them. And then once we do that initial step, we can hone it down even farther. We can optimize either the formulation or the processing of that product. So, and we can do that by a couple different methods. We can use some analytical chemistry, characterization or maybe we can use some statistical methods for a design of experiment and really optimize the product they want. And then finally we can do some final validation of that product. We can do some sensory evaluation of their product. We can even go to the final production and the factory floor, we can pack our steel toes and go. Whatever our customer would like, we are free to work with them, but it's ultimately their call.
Nicole Astra: Okay. And I mean, there's so much in that process. Let's go back to the ingredient list and the nutritional profile. This is probably way oversimplifying the process. But I would imagine that particularly now that the customers are demanding real transparency, optimal nutrition. Is it as simple as some of your clients saying, "We need to eliminate this ingredient? How can we do that?"
Carol Rainford: It's not simple. And that's where it comes back to, the food world is changing. Some of the ingredients that we've been using for years are now no longer, maybe considered clean label.
Nicole Astra: Right.
Carol Rainford: And people are really looking at clean label. So we have to be, again, that's where the creativity and the innovation comes through because we're looking at, okay, that ingredient, not only it brought functionality, we don't put just random ingredients, filler things in. Every ingredient we add to an ingredient statement has a purpose. It has a functionality in that product. And so changing things, it does create those challenges so...
Nicole Astra: Well, and that's why, again, you're a leader in innovation because you're anticipating these changes. You're ready to respond to them by providing solutions. I think that as with this rapid growth, solutions have to be ever present so...
Carol Rainford: Absolutely.
Nicole Astra: Yeah. Do you think that this approach is unique?
Carol Rainford: I think what makes Roquette unique is, well, many companies are global in nature, but we truly work globally. Again, I mentioned we have 60 scientists and again, we're application scientists and technical developers. And we have various backgrounds, we're engineers, like I said, we're chemists, we're food scientists, we're nutritionists. We bring all that, but since we're global, we also bring our different cultures and food is very cultural. So what may be a new technique in one area of the world is maybe not in another. Again, we all interact with our colleagues around the world on a weekly, if not daily basis. So I'm in touch with my Latin American counterparts, European and Asian counterparts. And if we have questions or if we can't through find the right solution for our customer, we've got 60 other people with their broad backgrounds.
Nicole Astra: Yeah, their knowledge ready...
Carol Rainford: To tap into that network.
Nicole Astra: Can you see any trends coming up or maybe questions for ingredients or solutions that you weren't seeing five years ago, you spent a lot of time in the lab, a lot of time interacting with the clients. What are you seeing? What can we expect?
Carol Rainford: Again, it's... The food world is changing, like I said, in different areas of the world, different people have coined different terms. Some people call it a food revolution. Our European counterparts tend to call this the new gastronomy. Whatever you call this change, it's obviously that the old, our old cuisine, our old way of doing things is very much changed. Especially with your Talking Plant Protein, you're making all those dairy and savory and meat analogs out of plant proteins now.
Nicole Astra: It's amazing how far we've come, yeah.
Carol Rainford: It is. So no matter what you're looking for [inaudible 00:08:43], sometimes people have dietary restrictions. So there is just so many products and there's, and the field is changing daily. So many people have so many innovative ideas and at Roquette, we are up for that challenge and we are there to support our customers.
Nicole Astra: Well, and certainly proven that. So the one thing that will not be changing in this industry is that Roquette will certainly be there.
Carol Rainford: Absolutely.
Nicole Astra: Yeah. Thank you for joining us on Talking Plant Protein. We appreciate your time.
Carol Rainford: Thank you, Nicole. It's been pleasure.