The US is considerably behind the UK in terms of sodium reduction, but is catching up and demand will boom over the next year, the CEO of Kudos Blends says as it secures US distribution with Brenntag North America.
The UK-headquartered sodium reduction specialist will distribute its hydrophobic-grade potassium bicarbonate – a direct replacement for sodium bicarbonate – across the US under the new partnership, launching officially at IFT in New Orleans next week.
Kudos Blends already had a handful of US customers, but the distribution deal would secure more market coverage in a market that was increasingly interested in sodium reduction options, its CEO Dinnie Jordan said.
“In terms of sodium reduction, the US is probably where the UK was back in 2005/2006, but it’s gathering momentum because a lot of the global players have made pledges. Unilever, General Mills and Bimbo Bakeries, among others, and even quick-serve restaurants have got clear strategies to reduce sodium,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“It’s taken time. People need to have the option – some of the options weren’t there before. But we’ve got a product that works; it’s proven and we’ve been doing it in the UK since 2005 in every single bakery product you can think about.”
The opportunity, she said, was enormous. Kudos Blends had injected £500,000 ($848,000) into expanding its production facilities in the UK – doubling capacity to cater to anticipated demand from the US, she said.
Supplying to formulators and end bakers
Under the US distribution deal with Brenntag, Kudos Blends would sell its potassium bicarbonate to bakers and formulators – predominantly the latter, Jordan said.
“The way the trend is going with a lot of bakeries taking mixes, a lot of our business will be going to the pre-mixers and formulators,” she said.
This was a shift Jordan had noticed take hold over the past few years. “There’s less of a skilled workforce than there used to be; certainly, that’s the trend in the UK. There’s less people skilled in bakeries to make a cake mix from scratch and bakers just want something that’s more simple to make – a very easy mix where you can’t go wrong,” she said.
However, this shift hadn’t been bad for business, she added, as it meant Kudos was dealing with fewer customers and working directly with “scientific-driven formulators that really innovate and add value to those pre-mixes, better than perhaps bakers could”.
“Working for the innovators really plays to our strength,” she added.
Juggling the US and rest-of-world business
Kudos Blends currently sells to Australia and New Zealand; distributes in Canada, Mexico and Brazil via partnerships; and supplies to various European countries, although the UK remains its biggest market representing 80% of global business.
Asked if the company would manage the surge in US business, Jordan said the company was more than ready.
“We’ve got the infrastructure, set-up and staff to be able to cope with it, it’s just about managing and controlling growth; that’s been my motto,” she said. In addition to the half million production expansion, Kudos had also started running double shifts to increase capacity, she said.
According to Jordan, if the US business took off the next step would be to establish production in North America. “If I could do that by 2020, I would be quite happy," she said.