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CoreFX Ingredients shifts focus to nutrition, wellness with dairy roots

Editor’s note: Welcome to Ingredient Innovation, CMN’s new segment exploring recent innovations and trends in the dairy ingredients sector. For this segment, we will profile a leader in the ingredients industry as well as share updates on mergers and acquisitions and new offerings for cheese and dairy in ingredients — where flavor begins.

By Alyssa Mitchell

Photo courtesy of CoreFX Ingredients
CHEEZECORE — CoreFX Ingredients today has nine areas of focus for specialty ingredients, including CheezeCoreFX. CheezeCoreFX dry cheeses, like the powder pictured above, showcase the CoreFX philosophy of creativity and technological understanding by delivering on customers’ needs for flavor, functionality and color in one convenient solution.

CHICAGO — CoreFX Ingredients LLC, a leading provider of spray-dried fat and oil-based ingredients solutions for dairy and other industries, is building on its reputation for custom ingredient design and superior service as it shifts its focus to more nutrition, health and wellness offerings.

• Company evolution

CoreFX Ingredients is led by CEO Denis Neville, who was raised on a dairy farm in North Kerry, Ireland, and has been involved in the industry his entire life. Neville launched the CoreFX line of specialty dairy ingredients in 2009 as a division of MCT Dairies. In 2016, the CoreFX Ingredients division was acquired by Ornua, Ireland’s largest exporter of dairy products.

The acquisition by Ornua has allowed CoreFX Ingredients to further increase the scale and capability of the business through customer-led innovation, dairy technologies and its team expertise. In 2017, the company announced the launch of a new Customer Innovation Center at its Chicago headquarters. Neville says the center has helped CoreFX to foster unparalleled customer service and engagement in a collaborative environment.

“The partnership with Ornua is a very good one,” he says. “Our heritage of cheese and dairy aligns well with Ornua, and cheese and dairy ingredients still are an important part of CoreFX’s portfolio. We’re constantly buying dairy and using it to nourish bodies and minds.”

He adds Ornua’s global reach in terms of buying power and keeping a pulse on global trends helps CoreFX provide the best of cheese and dairy ingredients to U.S. customers and the brands they work with.

CoreFX Ingredients uses spray drying and dry blending technologies to produce a range of dairy, cheese and lipid powder ingredient solutions for U.S. food manufacturing and foodservice customers. The company serves a wide range of markets including dairy, snack foods, sports nutrition, soups/sauces and dressings, infant and toddler nutrition, desserts and bakery.

Core to the business is the ability to design ingredients specific to customer requirements across a range of properties including taste, texture, mouth feel, nutritional value, cost and shelf stability, Neville says.

“Starting in the world of cheese and dairy, we have shifted our strategy a little to focus more on nutrition, health and wellness, but we still are staying true to our cheese and dairy roots by looking at other outlet markets such as pet nutrition in which we can help elevate that industry,” he says.

“Nutrition is a huge focus area for nourishing with fats and proteins,” he adds. “Also the world of health and wellness — looking after mind as well as body. That’s a big focus for us in how we define healthy fats and oils, and how we have evolved in terms of what we spray dry and why.”

The company’s current mission is to “nourish and nurture bodies and minds through disruptive creativity and entrepreneurial endeavor to improve quality of life and longevity for all.”

“Disruptive creativity for us is about innovating — not just to innovate, but doing it in a way that will disrupt the status quo and create something that will be useful today as well as in the future,” Neville says. “It takes a bit more forward thinking and disruption internally to do that. It all comes back to the entrepreneurial endeavor to disrupt all the time. We feel we’re still in that space — still small enough that the culture created by myself has that entrepreneurial spirit to still be disruptive.”

Particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers increasingly are looking for ways to nourish their minds and bodies through food and other holistic, natural offerings, Neville says.

“Consumers are not just relying on others to tell them ‘this is good or bad for you’ — it’s more about self-care and not relying on medicines or pharmaceuticals to take care of your body and your mind. We’re very much involved in that,” he says.

Neville is quick to note that CoreFX Ingredients is not its own brand, but rather the supplier to many trusted brands.

“We’re always going to be the ingredients behind the brands, never the face to the consumer,” he says. “That’s how we always plan to operate. Consumers and customers of our brands trust them, and by extension, their consumers can trust our brands as well.”

Photo courtesy of CoreFX Ingredients
INNOVATION CENTER— Pictured above is CoreFX Ingredients’ test kitchen and R&D lab in the company’s Customer Innovation Center in Chicago. The center has allowed CoreFX to foster unparalleled customer service and engagement in a collaborative environment.

• Key offerings

In addition to macro ingredients like fats and oils, CoreFX Ingredients is focused on micro ingredients with specific properties and health effects, Neville notes.

CoreFX Ingredients today has nine areas of focus for specialty ingredients — CheezeCoreFX, ButterCoreFX, DairyCoreFX, NutriCoreFX, HealthiCoreFX, SportsCoreFX, PetCoreFX, BakeriCoreFX and CreamerCoreFX. The company also offers a full array of non-GMO, kosher, organic, ketogenic- and paleolithic-friendly solutions.

CoreFX provides a broad range of dry ingredient solutions that cover the full spectrum of dairy. From cream to yogurt and everything in between, these ingredients provide dairy functionality and flavor and are true to dairy labeling in a convenient dry form tailored to end-use needs.

In all cases, clean label and true to dairy is top of mind,” Neville says. “We offer dairy powders in a variety of flavors, textures and color depending on customers’ requirements.”

In addition, CheezeCoreFX dry cheeses showcase the CoreFX philosophy of creativity and technological understanding by delivering on customers’ needs for flavor, functionality and color in one convenient solution, he says.

“We frequently combine CheezeCoreFX with DairyCoreFX or other categories to solve broader requirements for combinations of cheese, dairy, lipids and more,” he adds.

CoreFX dry cheese products satisfy a wide range of product applications including snacks, ready meals, prepared foods, sauces, bakery and processed cheese.

One of CoreFX Ingredients’ newer offerings is its NutriCore brand of products, which also is aligned with HealthiCore, Neville notes.

“The single most powerful trend in today’s marketplace is consumers’ desire for foods and ingredients that are ‘naturally functional’ in terms of controlled bioavailability when consumed,” he says. “It has become one of the key drivers of innovation in healthier foods and beverages.”

To meet this growing demand, CoreFX has developed stable powdered emulsions of healthy fats for nutritional, functional and supplement applications under the NutriCoreFX and HealthCoreFX brands. These dry stable powders allow emulsified fats to be mixed easily with dry-based food and beverage products, harnessing natural ingredients to provide health benefits beyond their nutritive value. These highly functional systems often help mask negative flavor and stability impacts of ingredients like vitamins, herbs and minerals and are capable of achieving desired flavor, body, texture and appearance in many end-use nutritional products.

Meanwhile, the company’s SportsCoreFX offerings are designed for everyday health-conscious consumers to high-performance athletes, Neville says. He notes a global attitude of being proactive about health is motivating consumers to be conscious of how their current diets and lifestyles may impact long-term quality of life.

“At CoreFX, we are proud to introduce our range of convenient and holistic ingredient solutions utilizing our liposomal emulsion technology. Under our SportsCoreFX range we have developed readily bioabsorbable turnkey ingredient solutions for athletes seeking performance-driven insights and solutions,” he says.

CoreFX’s micro-encapsulated and liposomal emulsion technologies allow the company to create ingredient solutions that will revolutionize the sports nutrition industry, he adds.

“An example is high-value nutritional powders which are rich in natural energy-boosting fatty acids that can increase ketones to kick-start ketosis and act as a fuel source for the brain and body,” Neville says.

With all of its offerings, Neville says CoreFX Ingredients prides itself on its ability to offer custom applications.

“We don’t ever go to a customer with a cookie-cutter ingredient or solution — it’s always about what the customer needs and working back from there,” Neville says. “It takes a lot more effort to do that, a lot more R&D resources, but we’re set up for that. Our Innovation Center here in Chicago is dedicated and set up for that kind of disruption and innovation.”

• Leadership, sustainability

As a leader in the field of ingredients, Neville says CoreFX looks to stay true to its dairy roots and build on its reputation for trust, quality and consistency.

He adds that as a leader, CoreFX strives to be a “champion of culture.”

“If you’re a founder or leader, you set a standard, and then you champion that standard,” Neville says. “You also want to inspire your team to meet a level of excellence.”

For CoreFX, the standard is taking those pieces and adding innovation and creativity, he adds.

“As an ingredient leader and provider, we always have to be creative. We always want to be the first to market. It’s about doing what’s best and what’s right for consumers, not just what’s right for our pocketbook. We’re looking at the next level of nourishment and nourishing,” Neville says

He adds CoreFX also looks at what’s right for the planet in terms of sustainable solutions.

“This is important to us and important to our partner, Ornua,” Neville says. “The resources of Ornua help us to get there as a small company with more limited resources. Championing sustainability can be challenging, but we utilize the resources we have, going all the way back to where each component originates from to see that it’s done right, with sustainability in mind. That’s what our customers have come to expect — and they are getting exactly what they expect.”

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