SNAC Member Profile: Making the World Taste Better

November 30, 2017

When President and Owner Doug Meyer-Cuno founded Carolina Ingredients in 1990, it was vastly different from the full-service seasoning blending company it is today. The company started as a raw material distributor, and Mr. Meyer-Cuno made the decision in 2000 to pivot to become a blending company, servicing a variety of industries in need of innovative seasoning. Today, Carolina Ingredients prides itself on helping its customers lean forward in developing game-changing new flavors.

“Since we were already in the ingredient business, moving into seasoning and blending was a logical step in creating a value map that didn’t exist previously,” said Mr. Meyer-Cuno. “There weren’t a lot of seasoning suppliers in the southeast region. We found a niche that allowed us to hit the ground running.”

In Jan. 2010, the company opened a new facility in Rock Hill, SC which became the first seasoning manufacturer to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Award status, a recognition given to businesses with a high degree of environmental responsibility. 

Since 2000, the company has enjoyed steady growth which has been rewarding, but has also presented unique challenges. Carolina Ingredients now does business internationally, and has over 70 team members.

“It’s kind of like going from college to pro. Your manpower and skill sets have to move to  a higher level because the volume is so much greater than it used to be. We need to ensure our staff is well-equipped to face new challenges associated with operating on larger scales. If we’re not creating value, someone else will,” Mr. Meyer-Cuno said. “We have an outstanding research and development team that is willing to work hand-in-hand with our snack customers.”

 The company’s mission is to make the world taste better, a goal accomplished through a steadfast focus by each team member on creating value for customers. A pivotal moment in this journey of value creation came in 2011 when Carolina Ingredients became the first privately-owned seasoning manufacturer to obtain a Non-GMO Project Verified certification.

“At its onset, a lot of snack companies were confused about the certification and the challenges it created in relationships with supplying vendors,” said Mike Cantore, Vice President of Sales. “We work hard to be initiators and innovators in the industry, and we were glad to take that leap at an early stage and alleviate what had become a pain-point for a number of customers.”

As in 2011, Carolina Ingredients keeps its eyes on the horizon to ensure it is keeping pace with swiftly changing food trends. Although not a new trend, the company sees transparency as an issue that is here to stay.

“Transparency is a key word in our industry, and we think that it’s a trend that is only going to become more important to tomorrow’s consumer,” said Meyer-Cuno. “Whether it is food safety documentation, or ingredient tracing from farm-to-bag, the transparency of how a product is produced is becoming more engrained in our culture. Millennials want to know where our Ancho Chile seasoning came from and how it was made.”

In its mission to make the world taste better, the Carolina Ingredients R&D team is constantly working to identify the next big flavor. “Much like you see in the craft beer industry, you’re seeing unique snack brands with a more local feel and very bold flavors,” said Mr. Meyer-Cuno.

“The culture of convenient snacking in America is creating new trends in the flavor world,” said Mr. Cantore. “Street food has become a huge phenomenon, and those street foody flavors have carried into snacks. Chip flavors such as taco and Korean BBQ are tastes you would find at while eating on-the-go at local food trucks.”

Carolina Ingredients, a longstanding member of SNAC International, uses the Association as a networking resource to build strong connections with customers and industry partners. “We use SNAC as a resource to grow the company, and it has helped open some doors as SNAC is evolving to work more with the emerging companies in our industry,” said Mr. Cantore.

Since its inception, the management team at Carolina Ingredients has instilled a company culture centered around passion. “We truly have a core culture of being passionate here. The team is passionate about the company and about all of our customers,” said Mr. Cantore. “Our team loves coming to work every day and that translates into the products we make – we truly believe that we can make the world taste better.” Featured in the November: International Trends issue of SNAC World Magazine.