Annette Higgins, director of strategy and business development for protein solutions at DuPont Nutrition & Health, tells BeverageDaily.com about the 'endless possibilities' she sees for protein beverages and her experience managing soy milk brand 8th Continent.
What does your job involve doing?
As Director of Strategy & Business Development for Protein Solutions at DuPont Nutrition & Health, I am responsible for strategic planning and management of key business growth initiatives.
What’s your background?
I have nearly 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, with the majority of my career in marketing and strategy roles. Prior to my current position, I led a global account marketing team, which was responsible for developing marketing plans focused on identifying customer needs and opportunities. I also spent two years managing the 8th Continent brand of soy milk, which was a joint venture between DuPont and General Mills.
What do you like about working in your field?
It’s exciting to work in the food and beverage industry, particularly when it comes to protein. There is such a strong demand for protein globally, and being able to play a role in providing manufacturers, brand owners and ultimately consumers with healthy, high quality, nutritional products that taste great is very rewarding. It’s also fun to walk into a grocery store and see a product on the shelf with our ingredient, knowing that I played a part in helping get that product to market.
What’s the hardest thing about the job?
It can be challenging to anticipate and predict the needs and wants of consumers, particularly in emerging markets. We are fortunate that as a global company, DuPont has strong in-region sales, marketing and applications support to ensure that we are tailoring our offerings to provide solutions that meet local needs and preferences.
If the ‘typical’ day exists, then what does it look like?
A typical day would start by scanning headlines from the market as it relates to the food and beverage industry news. After that, every day is a little different, so a typical day is quite difficult to capture! But that is what makes my job so exciting. One day I can be reviewing customer feedback on ideas that we have proposed, and another day I’m working with a team of people to launch a new technology for a beverage that will ultimately help children grow and thrive.
How do you see the protein beverage landscape in 10 years’ time?
I see endless possibilities for protein beverages in the next 10 years. Protein resonates well with consumers, whether it is for a sports nutrition product to help build lean muscle, or a beverage to help manage weight, or even as a refreshing, nutritious after school beverage for kids. I think the inclusion levels of protein will continue to increase in beverages as technology becomes even more sophisticated. I believe we will see more protein beverages that are tailored for specific consumer targets with distinct needs, such as sports enthusiasts, children, or an aging consumer that wants to remain vibrant and healthy as they age.
What do you think are the most significant industry trends, i.e. healthy energy, naturally sweetened soda, etc. or can you even identify new ones?
I think one of the most significant industry trends is the increase in protein fortified beverages. Consumers awareness and understanding of protein has evolved to a point where the lines are becoming blurred between the hard core body builder who drinks several high protein shakes a day to a larger, more mainstream market that is consuming protein beverages to help manage weight, to age well, or to provide nutritional support to children.
If you could only take one beverage with you on a desert island, what would it be? (N.B. Water is allowed but we’re presuming it wouldn’t be a life/death situation!)
I would take a high protein chocolate peanut butter protein shake! One, because I love chocolate and peanut butter, and two, it would provide me with the protein I need to keep me full while giving me the energy I need to develop a strategy to get off the island!
What are your future ambitions?
I believe we have much work to do to meet the growing global demand for nutritious, high quality and economical protein in the future. It is my job to make sure we are enabling our customers to meet that demand by leveraging the benefits of soy protein and developing solutions that provide consumers with nutritious, great tasting products.
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