A leading marketer and distributor of specialty chemicals and ingredients in Asia-Pacific, Connell has 48 offices in 18 countries across Asia-Pacific and headquarters in San Francisco. The company serves more than 15,000 customers across several end markets like food, dairy, nutrition, personal & healthcare, pharmaceuticals, industrial solutions, paints, coatings, adhesives & sealants. Connell’s scale of imports gives it the ability to cater to multiple pack sizes and in certain businesses, it also partners with customers to manufacture products at a pilot scale.
Tejas Parekh, general manager, Connell India, shared the company’s history and said, “Connell started its journey with two brothers, Morris and John Connell when they set sail to Hong Kong to solve a customer’s problem. This intrepid journey led them to eventual expansion into Japan, the Philippines, and China. Eventually, the brothers attracted the attention of Wilbur-Ellis Company, an import and commodity trading company headquartered in San Francisco, California. In 1931, Connell became a wholly owned subsidiary of Wilbur-Ellis. Connell Brothers Company later announced a strategic rebranding of the company in 2019 under the new name, Connell.
Helping customers find the right product fit
According to Tejas, most startups and SMEs need ample support in terms of formulation, service, and minimum order quantities. When they are looking for replacements or upgrading what they are currently using, they face an innovator’s dilemma as they don’t know much beyond the product datasheet.
Explaining how Connell helps them, he said, “We partner with Fortune 500 companies from around the globe for specialty functional products which gets our customers to access to a wide array of ingredient manufacturers to choose from. Our technical team works very closely with our customers to recommend the right product to fit in.” Connell engages with customers from trend ideation to formulation design to choosing the right ingredients, helps them do pilot scale-up, and eventually launches the finished product which is much beyond just sourcing.
Assisting mass production of food products
Manufacturers seek safe, healthy, and functional ingredients aligned with regulations that are sustainable in source and supply. Once food processing evolves and gets to scale, there is a need to mass-manufacture products which are otherwise being made by fragmented pockets. This is where Connell comes into play. Tejas explained with an example, “We supply starter cultures for dahi which are now made in mass scale and require temperature monitored supply and storage. This requires a robust supply chain acumen with a sustainable product source.”
The ingredients in demand
In Tejas’s opinion, as society gets economically more advance and the focus shifts to health and wellness, the industry is witnessing a rise in demand for protein and will continue to do so. Also in demand are value-added dairy products owing to the dynamic young population in India. Sharing a few more ingredients that Connell observes to be growing, he said, “Functional ingredients which make or break a product like a stabilizer/emulsifier/gelling agents and contribute to a stable finished food/beverage are in continuous demand. Indian spice-based flavors are the backbone of the Indian palette, but also exotic flavors/spices influenced by global cuisine will always be driven by the global population of India.”
Food safety- A key global value at Connell
Connell ensures that the products it sources and supplies meet the national and international standards of food safety. Tejas proudly talked about it and said, “Today all the ingredients we source & supply are after vetting the pedigree and infrastructure of our partners, to creating food safety data and documentation trail, ensuring packaging, logistic & storage are consistently meeting not just internal but global standards. All our processes & infrastructure are regularly audited by FSSAI.”
Other steps taken by the company include segregated dedicated storage spaces ascribing to various norms for different ingredients with different chemistry and storage requirements including temperature/humidity control. A very stringent policy for quality checks & rejections including food packaging and shelf life is followed. “All our vendor partners for food ingredients are also required to meet our norms with regard to maintaining required parameters during storage & transportation. So, we live safety as a value in our working lives every single day which builds a lot of confidence in our customers,” added Tejas.
Working towards reduction in carbon footprint and energy conservation
Connell has been recognized with the renowned EcoVadis Silver rating, where it ranks among the top 25% of all companies rated. “We will continue effortlessly to build on this to sustain, preserve and protect the planet through our processes & choice of ingredients,” Tejas said.
The road ahead
Sharing the company’s future plans, Tejas said that it aims to continue to get deeper engagement with its customer base and supplier partners and work on best-in-class solutions for food and dairy processing.
“We aim to be the preferred ingredient partners for companies wishing to establish innovative and sustainable food nutrition and dairy solutions for this exciting market,” he concluded.