Cargill blends indulgence with responsibility at ‘Taste of the Future’

Sensory culinary stations, a narrative dinner and more highlighted the company’s first-ever experiential dinner, in New York. Also, Cargill’s experts emphasized their commitment to working with farmers for more sustainable practices.

Audarshia Townsend, Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider

February 9, 2024

4 Min Read

At a Glance

  • The event featured a sustainable narrative dinner with global ingredients.
  • There’s a growing consumer demand for transparency and sustainability in indulgent foods.
  • Mycoprotein was presented as a future protein option.

The manner in which John Satumba described the display of double chocolate chip cookies, chocolates, vegan frozen treat bars and dragon fruit-infused chocolate truffles had the audience captivated.

At Cargill’s first-ever “Taste of the Future” interactive culinary and sensory dining experience, held at a private events space in New York in early February, Satumba talked about the creaminess of the frozen treats and how much they reminded him of the chocolate ice cream bars he devoured as a child. He also gushed about the generous number of chocolate chips in every soft-baked cookie on the table. And he also went into detail of how pronounced the natural dragon fruit flavor was in every bite of the truffle.

Once Satumba got them hooked, he’d add, “What everyone is experiencing is pure joy in the decadence of each treat.” As Cargill North America’s official indulgence R&D leader, he knows what he’s talking about. But there’s so much more substance to one of the company’s newest categories, which includes sweeteners, cocoa, chocolate and oils that go into the indulgent space – bakery, snacks, chocolate, confections and ice cream.

As consumers become better educated about the ingredients within their foods, he said, they want to know the origins and they want them to be responsibly sourced. That’s one of the primary responsibilities of Satumba’s division.

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“One of the main trends we’re seeing for indulgence is sustainability,” he told guests at the event. “And sustainability is at the heart of everything that we’re doing at Cargill.

“What you’re seeing highlighted are examples of how we at Cargill play a role in the supply chain to deliver sustainable solutions. Within the chocolate chip cookie, we’ve got two ingredients that are sustainably sourced. One of them is the palm oil, which is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).”

He continued, “The second ingredient is the cocoa powder that makes the chocolate. That is certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Independent bodies that we work with certify our supply chains to ensure that we’re following best practices around all the ingredients that we leverage.”

The latter information about the independent certifying groups is key, as they help Cargill achieve transparency about its supply chain of two of the most controversial ingredients on the planet. For one, the global nonprofit RSPO, which launched 20 years ago in 2004, assembles stakeholders from across the palm oil supply chain to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. That includes palm oil producers, consumer goods manufacturers, palm oil processors and others.

Related:Report: 95% of British consumers eat chocolate

Together, they’ve developed a set of environmental and social criteria that companies must comply with to produce RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). These measures help minimize the negative impact of palm oil production on the local environment, wildlife and communities.

Meanwhile, the Rainforest Alliance – also nonprofit and global in scope – aims to protect forests, improve the livelihoods of farmers and help them adapt to the climate crisis. The organization’s work extends to critical ecosystems across the globe, including Asia, Central America, Mexico, South America, and Central and West Africa.

In addition to Satumba’s aptly named “The Science Behind Joyful Indulgence” sensory culinary station, Cargill also featured stations “The Future of Protein,” which debuted exclusive tastings of mycoprotein, as well as ones dedicated to beauty, lifestyle and hydration.

A narrative dinner immediately followed, allowing guests to experience products and ingredients sustainably sourced and produced by Cargill and its global customers. For example, diners noshed on Karaage-style chicken, from Sanderson Farms in Texas, with honey-gochujang glaze and mango dust; grilled shrimp, from a purveyor in Ecuador, served over grain salad with carrot and orange vinaigrette; Norway’s salmon, which was sake-marinated and wrapped around a yuzu-togarashi cream cheese cylinder; and seared USDA prime beef tenderloin from Texas-based 6666 Ranch served with ancho chile tequila butter.

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Guiding guests through the dinner were Cargill experts and corporate chefs, including Florian Schattenmann, chief technology officer; Pilar Cruz, chief sustainability officer; and Pete Geoghegan and Stephen Giunta, chef and protein culinary directors, respectively.

For Cruz, it was important to mention the crucial role farmers played in supplying the ingredients for the dinner. Equally important was stressing the support the company has given to farmers across the globe to help them operate.

“The world is going to have 500 million more people by 2030 and two additional billion people by 2050,” Cruz said. “Our commitment is to nourish the world and to do it in a responsible way within planetary values.

“For Cargill, what that means is that we are fully committed to working with millions of farmers around the world to introduce and implement sustainable practices, whether it is grazing practices or regenerative agricultural practices, in a way that will help farmers be successful.”

About the Author(s)

Audarshia Townsend

Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider, Informa Markets

A lifelong Chicagoan, Audarshia Townsend is an award-winning, veteran food and beverage journalist who serves as the content director for the Food & Beverage Insider brand. She is Informa Markets' 2024 "Star Storyteller" winner. Her experience as a visionary editor and writer spans 30 years, with an emphasis in print and digital magazines. Audarshia's professional passion is to champion and amplify underserved business communities. Some of her most recent content includes her review of 2023's F&B trends, the future of food science careers, an interview with culinary star Padma Lakshmi, and Pescavore's sustainable ahi tuna jerky strips. She also appears regularly on local and national media outlets to discuss food and beverage trends, most notably FOX-32 Chicago, WGN-TV, WXRT-FM, NPR-Chicago and the Travel Channel. She is often called on to serve as a judge for prestigious food, beverage and restaurant awards, including the James Beard Foundation, NEXTY Awards and Black Women in Food. She continues to write for Chicago magazine, and previously she has written for the likes of the Chicago Tribune, Eater Chicago, Esquire, Essence, Los Angeles Times, Playboy, Time Out Global and World’s Best Bars. With food and beverage being her longtime, chosen beat in media, she has created content for a number of prestigious brands such as AOL, Google, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Lexus, MasterCard, Markon Cooperative Inc., Miller Brewing Co., Resy and Simplot Foods.

To date, Audarshia has guest lectured at the following higher-education institutions: Columbia College Chicago and Loyola University Chicago for undergraduate journalism students; Northwestern University for graduate journalism students; and Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) for undergraduate, graduate and PhD food science students. She also mentors aspiring young writers and journalists whenever she can. Email her at [email protected] and also connect with her on LinkedIn.

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