15 Dec 2017 --- Last month, leader in natural specialty ingredients, Naturex announced changes to its senior management team with the appointment of Sarah Martin as its new Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). Martin, who has a wealth of high-level experience in the food science and nutrition industry, joins Naturex’s Executive committee, taking global responsibility for Naturex’s scientific and innovation programs.
Martin will operate out of the company’s corporate headquarters in Avignon, France. Throughout her career, Martin has held various leadership roles in The Dow Chemical Company, Solae and DuPont groups. Prior to joining Naturex as CSO, she worked for DuPont Nutrition Biosciences. Her lengthy industry experience has enabled her to develop expertise and leadership in areas such as processing technology, R&D, intellectual property and project management.
Speaking after news of her appointment was confirmed, Martin said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Naturex at this exciting time. I’ve been extremely impressed by the passion for high-quality science and research that lies at the heart of Naturex’s approach to business. I’m excited and proud to be given the opportunity to work with my new colleagues to drive this program forward in the coming years.”
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, she explained: “I have a lifelong passion for high-quality science and research, and it’s clear to me that Naturex shares this – a fact that is illustrated by its Bright2020 commitment to invest 5 percent of total turnover in R&D by 2020. I am excited that I will get to play such a central role in ensuring Naturex meets this target.”
One of Martin’s priorities on joining the company has been to familiarize herself with Naturex’s in-house R&D team. “I’ve been really excited by not only the quality of Naturex scientists and technicians but also by their passion for developing healthy, natural products,” she notes. “Naturex’s application laboratories (SpringLabs) have also been a huge success, with eleven of these currently operating worldwide. They provide a point of collaboration with our customers where we can co-operate and help them to develop new products using Naturex’s ingredient solutions.”
“I’ve also been impressed with Ingenium, Naturex’s open innovation program, which has yielded interesting results since it was established in March 2016,” Martin continues, “Naturex has collaborated with numerous companies, large and small, to develop and launch new ingredient solutions that deliver a high level of innovation. Ingenium’s proven track record of quickly executing collaboration agreements is a real advantage that allows Naturex to be first to market new, exciting products.”
How will your experience in the food science and nutrition industry have a positive impact for Naturex? “Throughout my career, I have driven strategic growth initiatives by focusing on new product development,” she replies. “Innovation benefits everybody – businesses and consumers. At Naturex, I’m looking forward to drawing on this experience to continue, and build on, the culture of R&D excellence that already exists.”
“Key to this approach will be increasing our understanding of plants and the development of new processes to identify and extract ingredients from them. We also need to keep learning about how these ingredients behave in finished products. These are all areas in which I have great expertise,” Martin adds.
“Only a tiny portion of the plant kingdom’s possibilities have been explored, and Naturex’s teams strive daily to reveal the potential of these plants. I’m very excited about this particular side of the industry,” she confirms. The continued global shift towards natural products and clean labels remains a key opportunity for Naturex.
Another important aspect of successful R&D is ensuring that the methods and technologies Naturex use are optimized on an ongoing basis. Naturex collaborates with a number of advanced research programs in order to explore new technologies.
Among Naturex’s many priorities, it’s fair to say that sustainability is one of the most important. “It permeates all parts of the business,” notes Martin.
Naturex has developed new, green extraction methods and has raised the bar significantly in the industry in terms of maximizing traceability and transparency. For example, Naturex has also demonstrated its commitment to DNA barcoding of natural extracts, which is an important step forward in verifying the authenticity of ingredients.
“Naturex has a target of investing 5 percent of turnover in R&D by 2020 and my task will be to oversee this process,” she says. “It’s a busy time for our scientists with 15 clinical studies currently running, all of which will come to a conclusion in the next couple of years.”
“In the food and beverage sector, our efforts include the development of new plant-based food preservation solutions, improved stabilization of natural colors, and enhancing the texture and flavor profile of food and beverage products.”
According to Martin, major research priorities in the nutrition & health area include maximizing ingredient bioavailability and proving efficacy through scientific research. “We continue to develop customized trials – in vitro, in vivo, clinical – to understand the mechanisms of action of our ingredients and to demonstrate their effects in the body,” she adds.
Looking to the future – what can we expect to see from Naturex? “We’re really excited about the perspectives for the plant-based protein market and this has been an important driver behind our recent partnership with mushroom protein supplier MycoTechnology and acquisition of Swedish Oat Fiber, a producer of oat fibers and proteins. Bringing these companies’ products into the Naturex range puts us in an extremely strong position to deliver high-quality plant protein solutions to the food and nutrition industry,” Martin finalizes.
By Elizabeth Green
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