Long before Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion collaborated, ingredient brands have been quietly making and marketing their components, while leaving the manufacture of products to someone else. From Teflon to Kevlar, brand collaborations are big business. 

The Power of Ingredient Branding

Ingredient brands are in a uniquely powerful position. On the one hand, they don’t need to market directly to consumers: their products are designed specifically to meet the needs of commercial customers, and they can focus their R&D on offering innovative solutions that some manufacturers wouldn’t develop on their own.

However, once the ingredient brand has developed a reputation for reliability and quality, this public perception of the ingredient lends an aura of quality and reliability to the entire product. 

For example, a new cookware company without a brand reputation of its own can use Teflon, a known component, and benefit from the existing familiarity and public perception of that brand. 

Ingredients and components can also become an unexpected revenue stream and a way to profit from unintentional innovations. The first polycarbonates were commercialized by Bayer under the brand name “Makrolon” in 1955, while Teflon was an accidental discovery by chemist Roy J. Plunkett in DuPont laboratories. 

Famous Ingredient Brand Collaborations

Even if you haven’t been paying attention to ingredient brands, they are part of daily life. Here are some of the most successful and noticeable ingredient brands so far:

  • Intel. The tagline “Intel inside” has been incredibly successful in motivating consumers to choose more expensive devices since the 90s. The idea was actually sparked by the VP of Marketing of an Intel brand partner, MicroAge. Ron Mion was aware of the technical challenges posed by proving to the public that Intel chips were superior to other brands. Instead of engaging in a public education campaign, he suggested simply promoting computers that have “Intel inside”, and the rest is history. 
  • Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex is another form of polytetrafluoroethylene, commonly known as Teflon. To make Gore-Tex, polytetrafluoroethylene is heated and expanded, creating a microporous membrane that is both waterproof and breathable. Gore-tex is used in everything from space suits to rain jackets, and is often specifically sought out by consumers as an indicator of warmth, weather protection, and durability. Today, Gore-Tex also makes their own line of outwear, so it is not exclusively an ingredient brand. 
  • Oreo. Anything that can contain an Oreo, does contain an Oreo. From the original launch of the McDonald’s McFlurry in 1997 to the Lady Gaga Chromatica Oreo earlier this year, Oreo is a master of collaboration and cross-promotion. Oreo has released 65 specialty flavors since 2012, and appears as a branded ingredient in dozens of confections, menu items, and treats around the globe. According to Justin Parnell, senior director of the Oreo brand, these collaborations, limited editions, and specialty flavors actually drive increased sales of the original, classic Oreo cookie.  
  • YKK. Founded in 1934, Japanese YKK has been quietly making great zippers and fasteners for decades. In 1966, the company launched a new, stronger, more durable zipper specifically designed for blue jeans, around the same time that jeans were transitioning from functional to fashion clothing. Today, YKK zippers are known for quality, and are proudly labeled on everything from sleeping bags to suitcases. 

Innovative Ingredient Brands

Today, ingredient brands have enormous opportunities, especially in the food and beverage sectors. As consumers demand natural, organic, sustainable ingredients, innovative firms can develop new sweeteners, starches, texturizers, fats., fibres and proteins optimized for the needs of large manufacturers. Here are some of today’s biggest ingredient brands:

  • Cargill. Cargill’s Food Ingredients division develops sustainable ingredients for companies around the world. Cargill is one of the largest creators of ingredients for cocoa, chocolate, (sugar) confectionery, bakery, dairy, desserts, beverages, savoury and also non-food applications e.g., paper & cosmetics, expertly blending sensory, nutritional, and functional aspects of ingredients & raw materials.. 
  • Ingredion. US-based Ingredion serves customers in more than 120 countries around the world. They make sweeteners, starches, nutritional additives, and biomaterials used in foods, beverages, paper, and pharmaceuticals. They focus on natural, organic, sustainable high-tech solutions that meet high expectations and solve the most common industry problems. 
  • Sensient Technologies. Headquartered in the US, Sensient Technologies develops and manufactures flavors, fragrances, essential oils, extracts, colors and ingredients for food, beverage, and personal care products. The company earned more than $1B in 2020, and focuses on natural, sustainable initiatives like using botanical and food surplus to extract natural colors and pigments. 
  • Ajinomoto. Ajinomoto is Japanese for “essence of taste”, and the company was the first to invent and market MSG in 1909. Today, the ingredient and biotechnology company makes seasonings, amino acids, direct-to-consumer food products, and animal and sports nutrition products, as well as chemicals and healthcare products. Ajinomoto produces a huge range of specialized amino acids optimized for pharmaceuticals, food, animal feed, and beauty and skin care, and the company earned nearly $10B in 2020.

Many of today’s most innovative research, delicious flavors, fragrances and groundbreaking ingredients are being developed by ingredient brands, where they will be used by the more familiar products and brands we know and love. Behind the scenes, these companies are making our world more natural, more sustainable, and more delicious. Grapefrute is the expert in finding specialists for flavors, fragrances & ingredients, contact us today to strengthen your teams.