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    April 25, 2024

    A New Generation of Consumers: How the Food Industry is Changing with Nirdesh Dalal

    Who is Nirdesh Dalal?

    Nirdesh Dalal is a senior food and beverage scientist at Lucta where he works to the company’s aims of offering high-end, holistic solutions for animal feeding. For Nirdesh, innovation and creativity are vital and must be balanced with quality and safety – this is the way Nirdesh and Lucta seeks to build trust in the company and the food industry as a whole. He thrives in workplaces where new technologies are embraced and allows his passion for food and science to be the driving force behind his practice. In fact, it was his unwavering fascination with the science behind food and its impact on our bodies that led him to convince his family, amid some pushback, to let him chart his own path in the industry. 


    Catering to a More Food-Educated Generation

    Nirdesh is very consumer-focused in how he thinks about both the quality of the flavors and the standards of safety and meeting regulatory standards. From his point of view, understanding the consumer's point of view is one of the key soft skills that a professional working in the industry must possess. Nirdesh recognizes that to understand the consumer is to understand how the consumer has changed and is changing. But what are the expectations of younger customers?

    Well, according to Nirdesh, consumer demands have shifted in the younger generation. As well as being a generation that cares deeply about maintaining the health of the planet, they are also very committed to and well-informed about the importance of keeping the body healthy. It is, as Nirdesh sees it, a natural consequence of better food education, more information being available, and more rigorous and detailed product labeling

    And of course, those developments in how food is regulated have a cyclical knock-on effect on consumer demands, so this is a change that will only move one way. Although Nirdesh is cautious of making definitive predictions, it seems clear that future generations will only want more understanding of the food they consume, and regulations will therefore only have to become more rigorous in order to keep in lockstep with the consumers.

    The Pace of Technological Development

    The emerging technologies within the flavor industry are areas that really excite and impress Nirdesh, and the pace at which the industry has moved to adopt and put to use these new capabilities is what he believes bodes well for the future. In the discussion, Nirdesh explains how much of the advancement in flavor comes in the form of enhancers which have the ability to mitigate against worries around shortages of certain ingredients.

    “Every year, the change is so rapid, it's exponentially growing and you might never know what we can attain, and that's the beauty of science.” - Nirdesh Dalal

    Nirdesh explores in depth how one technological advancement creates the possibility for another and so on and so on. Taking the example of consumers who have a gluten intolerance, he points out how difficult it was for those people to navigate what food they could and couldn’t eat. Over the past ten years, however, the gluten-free space has boomed with new and innovative products all over the place.

    “You can literally substitute a gluten-free powder or like a flour to an all-purpose flour and the ratio of 1 to 1.” - Nirdesh Dalal

    Unlearning Your Training to Taste Products Like a Consumer

    One of Nirdesh’s most intriguing and insightful lessons surrounds how a professional working in the industry ought to be fine-tuning their perceptions as they assess certain products. Of course, it’s important for someone working with flavor to be able to isolate the various technical components of a product, but when you are trying to assess how the consumer is going to perceive the product you have to almost, in Nirdesh’s words, unlearn that technical understanding and see the product as the cohesive whole that the average untrained person would see it as.

    “I recognize the importance of identifying technical sensory details like smoke and charred notes in a product. However, it's crucial to remember that the final consumer, who lacks this technical training, will experience the product differently.- Nirdesh Dalal

    Nirdesh stresses that this is one of the key ongoing challenges of someone in his position because while that training is vital when you are in the weeds of the complicated elements of food production, taking a moment to uncomplicate your assessment is what will separate the inexperienced practitioner from the veteran. And again, it comes back to a theme that is consistent in the various ways Nirdesh looks at his role and his industry: understanding the customer and seeing things from their perspective is vital.

    Nirdesh is exactly the kind of conscientious and passionate individual that the industry needs in order to strike that perfect balance between innovation and quality, and it’s clear that he is a voice to listen to and learn from.

    Check out the full podcast episode via the links below. Be sure to subscribe, rate, review, and share!

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