DuPont Seeks to Establish New Brand Item

WILMINGTON, Del. — Lycra, Teflon, and Kevlar are all brand names that have made DuPont Co.’s products a household name. Now DuPont wants to add Solae to the list, extending its branding strategy to its soy-protein ingredients.

The Solae name will first appear, framed in a leaf-like logo, on the shapely blue bottles of 8th Continent soymilk, which are hitting dairy cases across the Northeast, West Coast and Mid-Atlantic this month.

Eventually, the Solae logo and the phrase “made with Solae brand soy protein” will appear on other products launched by 8th Continent, a joint venture DuPont (DD) formed with General Mills Inc. (GIS) last year to create and market soybean foods.

DuPont also is in discussions with other leading food companies to incorporate its soy-protein ingredients in everything from meat to dairy, baked goods to cereals.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown analyst John Moten said the formation of the brand is the latest example of how DuPont is trying to retain the value of its soy products as the product heads up the value chain to consumers.

The soy-protein ingredient business offers DuPont an opportunity for growth at a time when many of the industries it supplies are reporting declining sales because of tough economic times.

Soy-protein ingredients are the biggest contributor to DuPont Nutrition and Health revenue, said Erik Fyrwald, vice president and general manager of the business segment, which posts about $600 million in annual sales. Mr. Fyrwald told Dow Jones Newswires that he expects soy-protein ingredient sales to grow between 10% to 20% for the next several years.

The world’s largest chemical maker claims its processing technology helps it to extract 90% of the soy protein from the soybean. Plus, the company said, Solae retains the isoflavones found in soybeans for additional nutritional benefits.

The Food and Drug Administration has said that the combination of soy protein and isoflavones may help reduce the risk of heart disease, while other studies have shown soy relieves menopausal symptoms, lessens the risk of hormonal cancers and lowers the risk of osteoporosis.

Undoubtedly, these health benefits will be a key element of the marketing strategy employed by both DuPont and its partners as new products are launched.

Mr. Fyrwald wouldn’t say how much DuPont plans to invest in promoting the Solae brand, but he said much of its marketing efforts will be developed with its partners.

For example, 8th Continent plans to market the soymilk primarily to women, emphasizing the health benefits one can gain by making simple lifestyle changes, a spokeswoman for the venture said. The packaging, a plastic bottle in both eight-ounce and 32-ounce sizes, emphasizes the convenience of using the product, she said.

DuPont’s emphasis on branding its products is rather unique in the chemical industry. Like many other chemical companies, DuPont’s products are often the building blocks for items others make, so its customers are manufacturers, not consumers. However, DuPont says it finds that branding helps its customers connect with consumers.

“When a customer sees the Lycra brand on a hangtag, they know what to expect from the product,” Mr. Fyrwald said.

Deutsche Banc’s Mr. Moten said the branding helps DuPont to retain its intellectual capital.

Solae marks DuPont’s first foray into branding in the food market, but others have been successful in making food-ingredient brands resonate with consumers, Mr. Moten said. He cited the little red swirl that has become synonymous with the aspartame sweetener NutraSweet.

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