At Innova Flavors, our purpose is simple yet complex: “We Blend Care and Creativity to Nourish the World.” We pride ourselves on being a company that serves the world through better food, and our care and creativity means we’ll find the right mix of global reach and local impact to serve the earth, so we nourish all of us who call it home.
Our purpose explains why we exist, but we want to share with you who we are and what we believe because our values – people, planet, performance – are born from our purpose and are at the heart of everything we do. Over the coming months, we will introduce you to our team so you can get to know us a little better and learn how our individual passions for food and flavor brought us all together under the collective purpose to nourish the world.
Innova Flavors was born out of Griffith Foods in 1997 with the goal of becoming a major player in the flavor industry. Three years after the company’s inception, Enrique Medina joined Innova Flavors and was tasked with developing a winning strategy and focus.
Q: Tell me about your background and role as president of Innova Flavors.
Medina: I majored in economics with a minor in finance and my first job was training to become a banker at Chase Manhattan Bank. It takes one year of training to become a banker and after becoming one, Monsanto asked me to be part of their finance team to determine who we gave credit to and financing for our customers. During my tenure at Monsanto, I started in finance, moved into sales and became the vice president of sales. I also performed roles in the company’s marketing, supply chain, research and development and technology departments. The last project I focused on for Monsanto was introducing biotech to South America, specifically Colombia, where I was located.
In 2000, I joined Innova Flavors as the marketing manager to develop a long-term strategy and focus that centered on growing our presence in the flavor industry. After one year, I became president and have been in this role now for 20 years. My goals for Innova were to become a big player in the United States focused on meat and savory and make sure we have a diverse number of customers. We wanted to be the Michael Jordan of flavors, but becoming a major player isn’t easy to do when you start as an unknown flavor company. Over the years, we have been successful at becoming a major player.
Q: How has the industry and Innova Flavors evolved over the past two decades?
Medina: We have become known as a flavor company. In the beginning, our challenge was becoming a player in the market and separating ourselves from the perception that we were a flavor company that only supplied Griffith Foods. While Griffith Foods once accounted for a significant portion of our business, today that percentage is greatly reduced as we continue to diversify. That’s the result of a lot of hard work and evolution of the market.
Today, there is a lot of consolidation in the market and changes in the arenas in which companies are playing. Flavor companies have expanded dramatically into health and nutrition. Consolidation and integration of the supply chain has resulted in bigger, more specialized players.
In addition, we are seeing greater investments in the food industry today. Twenty years ago, there was not a lot of money put into food but now there are investors coming into the arena and supporting start-ups that are bringing new products. More money is being given to players to grow in the space, making the industry much more competitive and growing at a faster pace.
Q: What is the best thing about Innova Flavors?
Medina: Our people. We are driven by our purpose and our goal is to make sure that we make a change in the areas where we work. We are driven by people and improving people’s lives, which includes our employees, customers, and suppliers, as well as giving back to our communities. From there, we make a big effort to make products that nourish and feed the world, and make sure we do this in a sustainable way. By helping our people develop themselves, we in turn help them support their families, communities, and our world.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge Innova Flavors faces today and how do you plan to overcome it?
Medina: The realm we are in is extremely competitive and it’s challenging to compete with the behemoths that have endless resources. While we might not have all the funding or capabilities they have, we have the brainpower and the will to succeed by creating things differently to support our customers.
Q: Looking to the future, what gets you excited about Innova Flavors?
Medina: Our team. We are always bringing new ideas, thought and creativity to be able to achieve our overall goals. Our team is diverse; everyone has a different constant but our goal and how we make it work brings us together. Being the underdog is fun and exciting. We are persistent – even if we get beat down, we learn from our mistakes and continue to get back up.