BOSTON — Despite a “tough quarter” for the dairy alternative market, the category remains one that offers a “significant opportunity” for long-term growth, James. P. Zallie, president and chief executive officer of Ingredion, Inc., said during a Sept. 5 fireside chat at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference.

“In the near term, the category is going to remain probably under pressure for another quarter or two,” Zallie said. “But long term, this is a category that we believe in and that we want to continue to play in. And it opens up doors for innovation for our starch-based texturizers. I can't tell you the number of products that we’re working on for customers that want to innovate and develop and launch a plant-based offering and also needs a starch-based product in there.”

Zallie said inflationary input cost increases have led consumers to vote with their wallets in recent months, which has led to lower volumes in dairy alternatives and meat alternatives. He said Ingredion has used the current environment as an opportunity to work more closely with its customers to understand what’s needed to drive consumer preference and adoption of alternatives.

“I believe it's pretty widely accepted that consumers would like the alternatives from a standpoint of the sustainability element, the health and wellness perceived benefits,” Zallie said.

He added that Ingredion’s work within its growth platform of clean label formulating also gives it an advantage.

“So we're working to innovate the next generation of plant-based proteins that would be lower in salt, higher in solubility, delivering the right texture and/or, say, clarity in a beverage,” Zallie said. “So that’s where our focus is. So we see small opportunities for protein fortification in snacks, sports nutrition.”