DuPont says it expects soy supplements to fuel much of the growth in its food ingredients business and for its products to help solve the widespread problem of weed tolerance to pesticides.
The company, best known for chemicals and Kevlar bulletproof fiber, has been steadily growing in the food sector since it bought Danish food ingredients maker Danisco last year. Food-related sales comprise nearly half of DuPont’s roughly $38 billion annual revenue.
DuPont also has aggressively pushed back on opposition from environmental groups that its pesticides, insecticides and genetically modified seeds are damaging nature.
Sales of probiotics or bacteria that aid digestion, food enablers used in gums and food testing equipment are growing, but soy supplements, primarily protein derived from soybeans, should see the strongest growth in 2012, James Borel, an executive vice president with DuPont, told the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.
“Soy protein has a lot of health benefits and food companies are anxious to get protein into foods,” Borel said on Tuesday at the summit in Chicago.
“You’ll continue to see soy protein in more types of drinks and foods,” he said. “That’s one area that continues to expand.”
Sales of soy and other food products will keep helping to support DuPont’s bottom line because makers of solar panels and electronics, which use parts made by DuPont, have cut back on orders, Chief Executive Ellen Kullman said earlier this year.
DuPont sells soy supplements as part of its Solae joint venture with Bunge Ltd.
“There’s going to continue being a lot of innovation in the food aisle,” Borel said. “Food companies are following what consumers are looking for.”
Borel said he drinks a chocolate soy supplement from GNC Holdings Inc each morning mixed with PepsiCo’s Trop50 orange juice.
Soy supplement is extracted from soybean after the plant is milled into a flour. It is popular among vegetarians and those who are lactose intolerant.
DuPont is one of a handful of companies making specialized ingredients used by General Mills Inc and other large packaged food producers.