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Running Between the Giants’ Legs: Wixon Turns 100

Posted: March 20, 2007

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Fueling that philosophy is what Gottsacker calls Wixon’s “R&D engine”: a core of about 20 flavorists and food scientists that have been cultivated to spur “significant growth in the future.” This engine is designed not only to keep the company ahead of trends, but also to develop new flavors, seasoning systems and compounds for the industry, in addition to addressing the health and wellness concerns of the food industry down the road.

Health: “We knew that salt and hypertension and reducing salt were going to be issues a long time before this current wave,” says Gottsacker. To this end, Wixon has developed the salt substitute KCLean Salt, which reportedly contains half the sodium of table salt. “That’s currently being formulated in some of the largest brand applications in the country,” Gottsacker adds.

Childhood obesity is another health crisis opportunity Wixon is tackling; says Gottsacker, “We have another technology that adds that sweetness without all those calories and is being looked at in major food applications for children.” In recent years, the company has used its Mag-nifique flavor technologies to help their customers lower trans fats, sugar, sodium and other troublesome ingredients. In these ways, Wixon seeks to stay nimble in an environment of increasing industry consolidation.

Weathering Storms

Part of Wixon’s continued success lies in its ability to evolve along with the food industry. “We have lived through the Atkins diet,” laughs Gottsacker. “We had a significant portion of our sales in bakery and bread, and when the Atkins trend came out, our bread business, which was $7 million worth of business for us, literally dried up.” Yet, the company’s diverse competencies—part of what Gottsacker describes as Wixon’s “critical mass”—saved the day. “We had significant exposure in the meat/protein industry,” he says. “Of course, as people were coming off bread, they were saying, ‘Meat is great for you.’ So we were able to offset a lot of that by pickup over in the protein side. Diversity certainly helps us smooth out some of those bumps in the various industries.”