NEW YORK — Ingredion, Inc. in shaping its portfolio over the next several years will emphasize sugar reduction, texture and plant protein, said James Derek Gray, chief financial officer, on May 17 during the BMO Capital Markets Global Farm to Market Conference in New York.

Acquiring a majority stake in PureCircle, Inc., a stevia company, in 2020 strengthened Ingredion’s presence in sweeteners. Mr. Gray estimated the global world sugar market at $85 billion to $90 billion and the high-intensity sweetener market at about $4.5 billion.

“We’re the world leader in stevia,” he said. “It’s a small business within our portfolio, pushing $150 million in revenue but growing solid mid-double digits every year, and what you’ll start to see is that as we work stevia into that market space, we’ll see that $4.5 billion just continue to take away from that $85 billion market that’s out there.”

Ingredients for texture make up $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion of Ingredion’s annual sales, he said. Clean label starches within the texture category could appeal to younger generations who consider sustainability when making food choices, Mr. Gray said.

“So they want to know authenticity,” he said. “They want to know traceability. They want to know what is in the ingredient. They want to be able to flip an ingredient panel, and they want to be able to see five ingredients, and one may just say corn starch or tapioca starch.

“They want something that’s simple. They don’t want a lot of ingredients, and they don’t want a lot of consonants in whatever that ingredient. They don’t like Xs, and they don’t like Zs, and they don’t like Ys.”

He said plant-based proteins recently have faced headwinds in consumer sales.

“I think it had a little bit of a blip,” Mr. Gray said. “I would say that the headwinds in the US are not the same headwinds or tailwinds in other parts of the world, but (I) still believe that nutrition from plant-based proteins is actually a really good opportunity.”