Article: Spotlight on Cognis Nutrition & Health (Paul Allen)

Spotlight on Cognis Nutrition & Health
By NPIcenter

Differentiating as an ingredient supplier and consistently adding value to business relationships can be a challenge. Yet that’s exactly the approach one needs to take in order to strengthen existing relationships, generate new ones, and ultimately support clients’ success. With this type of approach, in just a short time, a major player in the dietary supplements and functional foods industries has transformed itself well beyond that of an ingredients supplier.

Cognis Nutrition & Health, quite visible at SupplySide West in Las Vegas in December, has emerged from recent organizational changes and, under new ownership, intends to build upon its profitable growth as it reaffirms its customer focus. As the official educational conference sponsor, according to Group Vice President, Paul Allen, Cognis’ strong presence at SupplySide West demonstrates that science and education will continue to be driving factors for both our success and that of the industry. As a global leader in the nutritional industry, we are committed to raising the bar on the standard of excellence for ingredients, fostering growth only for those that are credible and science-based.”

Cognis is optimistic about the opportunities in the Health & Nutrition sector., predicting ‘ high single-digit organic growth, the introduction of new technologies and products, and is actively seeking mid to large strategic acquisitions with a program of safe, science backed products of natural origin.’

A division of the Cognis Group, the Nutrition & Health operation develops and markets natural-source ingredients for dietary supplements, pharmaceutical and healthcare, functional food and medical technology, food technology and animal nutrition markets. Cognis products include natural-source vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, lutein esters, alpha-lipoic acid, specialty lipids, phytosterols, botanical specialties, food emulsifiers, MCTs, and protein specialties. Last year, Cognis announced that it was realigning according to market segments to better serve customers. “Our global network of Cognis experts in more than 100 countries makes it possible for us to provide products backed by local knowledge and service.”

Asked to explain how Cognis uses its expertise and capabilities to better serve its customers, Allen explains, “Our primary task is to learn to think like our customers' marketing people. This enables us to formulate solutions which will make our customers and ourselves even more successful. The 'natural roots' of Cognis' product development, backed by our extensive scientific and marketing support, enhance the appeal of our products. As an example, Nutrition & Health recently produced a CD/ video demonstrating the advantages of natural source vitamin E over its synthetic counterpart. We created a persuasive case, attractively and conveniently packaged, which

some key customers used for their own promotional campaigns. The results have been very positive and have generated an upturn in demand for these customers and for Cognis."

Allen admits the industry is under pressure. ‘Things are not as easy as they have been. As an industry, we’ve got to realize that we’re all in it together. It’s in everybody’s interest to have an industry producing only quality products. We should be competing on customer service and value added rather than the wrong issues. Our energy needs to be focused on science based solutions.’

In these challenging times, the role of the ingredient supplier is evolving. In fact, an entire spectrum of relationships is emerging, depending on supplier competencies and the position and brand strength of the finished product manufacturer. Allen points out, “first and foremost, we must provide added value for our customers. Whether they put our branded ingredient logo on their label is secondary to what we give them to put inside the product. Our focus is on product quality, and the technology, innovation and science it takes to make them top quality. If there is established brand equity, like with Tonalin® brand Conjugated Linoleic Acid, and this adds value to the customer’s product, then the answer is obvious.

As the health and nutritional products industry wrestles with strategic issues and business challenges, more pressure is placed on the leaders who are shaping organizations. According to Allen, ‘A critical factor in measuring impact as a leader includes how well I can galvanize 'the team' to achieve desired results. Am I making full use of all team members' potential? We are in an interesting period where we want to double or triple our business. That's an aggressive goal and part of my job is to create an entrepreneurial and innovative atmosphere where new ideas are supported and rewarded. Our success will depend on how well we grow our business while being mindful of the fundamentals that have made us an industry leader."

While much of the industry retrenches, Cognis is asserting itself. A major presence at SupplySide, a commitment to industry education, an entrepreneurial approach in a company with the resources to execute bode well for its future.

Paul Allen:

Born in Sheffield, England
Studied languages and business administration at the University of Bath, Free University of Berlin, and Institute of Purchasing and Supply, London, UK.
Presently, Head of the Nutrition & Health strategic business unit of Cognis.
Responsible for five business segments managed under the umbrella of Nutrition & Health: Dietary Supplements, Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare, Food Technology, Functional Foods & Medical Nutrition, Animal Nutrition.
Worked as Purchasing Manager with Unilever, Product Manager and European Marketing Manager, at Diamond Shamrock Process Chemicals division.
Worked as European Business Manager for Process Chemicals in France. Following the acquisition of Process Chemicals by Henkel, appointed General Manager of Henkel Canada Ltd, Ontario in 1988. From 1991 on worked at Henkel Corporation, later Cognis Corporation, in the USA as Vice President of Synthetic Lubricants, APG Surfactants, Materials Management and Customer Services.
In 2000, appointed Vice President of Nutrition & Health.

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