Natural Products Inc. (NPI) is not a complicated company. It processes whole, non-GMO or certified organic soybeans into ingredients for the soyfoods, beverage and baking industries. But, inside this simple company is a unique innovation strategy.
“We are much smaller and simpler than the big soy ingredient companies,” says Paul Lang, NPI’s general manager. “Our innovation strategy is to offer the market a stream of unique, cost-cutting ingredients. We do this by developing proprietary, simple, soy processing technologies.”
Although NPI’s core competency is dry milling, the company looks all along the food production chain to develop soy technologies. “Sometimes the answer is to look for a variety of soybean with a certain trait like flavor, oil or protein content,” says Jon Stratford, NPI’s sales and marketing manager. “Sometimes, we borrow a processing technology from another industry. Other times, we look at simply blending with other ingredients.”
Many of NPI’s processing technologies are the result of developing a new ingredient in conjunction with a food or beverage manufacturer. “More than half of our total annual production volume goes toward making custom ingredients that we have co-developed with our customers,” Lang says. “Our best customer is the one who wants something that nobody has ever done, or that nobody has ever done with soy.”
Inventing new ingredients is nothing new to NPI. In the past 11 years, NPI has developed and taken more than 20 new ingredients to market. More recently it has opened new markets by blending whole soy ingredients with other functional ingredients, creating unique food systems that give manufacturers the chance to save money or replace other proteins with soy. These new blended ingredients are sold under the brand name of Scotsman’s Mill Ingredients.
“Scotsman’s Mill Ingredients all share the qualities of excellent functionality, cost stability and price advantage,” Stratford says. Scotsman’s Mill Ingredients are sold directly to industrial food manufacturers, or in some cases are manufactured under private label to bigger companies who are looking to expand their offerings with specialty functional ingredients.