PR agency Ingredient Communications logo alongside a quote from Richard Clarke on industry innovation

From B2B Journalism to Nutraceutical PR with Richard Clarke of Ingredient Communications.

Episode Overview

Episode Topic: In this episode of NutraPreneur, we discuss the evolving landscape of public relations and communication within the nutraceutical industry, through the lens of Richard Clarke, the Managing Director of Ingredient Communications. This discussion explores the transition from traditional B2B journalism to pioneering a PR agency dedicated to the nuanced needs of the food, beverage, dietary supplements, nutrition, and food ingredients sectors. The episode sheds light on how Ingredient Communications is bridging the gap between technical information and engaging content, thereby making a significant impact in these industries.

Lessons You’ll Learn: Listeners will gain invaluable insights into the transformation of communication strategies to meet the rapidly changing demands of the nutraceutical industry. Richard Clarke shares his journey from a seasoned B2B journalist to founding a niche PR agency, underscoring the importance of understanding industry-specific challenges and opportunities. The episode also highlights the shift towards utilizing artificial intelligence in content creation, the increasing focus on plant-based products, and the critical role of targeted communication strategies in catering to diverse sectors within the industry. Learn about the innovative approaches to PR and marketing that can help companies stay ahead in the competitive nutraceutical market.

About Our Guest: Richard Clarke is a visionary in the field of PR and communications, with a distinguished career spanning over 15 years as a B2B journalist before founding Ingredient Communications. Richard’s deep understanding of the media landscape and his commitment to addressing the specific needs of the nutraceutical industry set him apart as a leader in PR and communications consultancy. His work is characterized by a keen eye for market needs and a dedication to innovation, making him a respected figure in the industry.

Topics Covered: This episode covers a broad spectrum of topics relevant to the nutraceutical industry and PR professionals. Starting with Richard Clarke’s personal journey and the founding of Ingredient Communications, we explore the evolution of PR strategies in response to industry trends, such as the rise of plant-based products and the integration of AI in content creation. The discussion also touches on the challenges and opportunities in transforming technical information into engaging content, the importance of tailored communication for different industry sectors, and insights into the declining satisfaction among vegetarians with available food products.

Our Guest: Richard Clarke- The Art of Influence with the PR Agency

Richard Clarke is an esteemed figure in the field of public relations and communications, particularly within the nutraceutical, food, beverage, dietary supplements, nutrition, and food ingredients industries. His journey to becoming the Managing Director of Ingredient Communications is marked by a significant transition from a successful career as a B2B journalist to establishing a specialized PR agency. Clarke’s extensive experience spanning over 15 years in journalism provided him with a deep understanding of the media landscape, equipping him with the unique skills to address the intricate communication needs of the sectors he serves. His ability to discern and adapt to market needs has positioned Ingredient Communications as a pivotal player in crafting compelling narratives that bridge the gap between complex technical information and engaging content for industry professionals.

In founding Ingredient Communications, Clarke identified a niche that leveraged his journalistic expertise to fulfill the unmet needs of the ingredient sector. Clarke’s approach to PR and communications is rooted in a profound understanding of the importance of specialized knowledge, ensuring that his agency delivers content that is not only informative but also resonates with the target audience. Clarke leading the agency in delivering impactful communication strategies that enhance visibility and engagement for their clients.

Richard Clarke’s foresight in recognizing the potential of integrating artificial intelligence into content creation reflects his commitment to innovation within the PR landscape. As the nutraceutical and food industries evolve, Clarke’s insights into the trends shaping these sectors, such as the growing demand for plant-based products and the importance of catering to diverse dietary preferences, have been instrumental in guiding his clients toward successful market positioning. His work not only encompasses the strategic dissemination of information but also includes a keen focus on ethical considerations, ensuring that the use of new technologies like AI is approached with caution and responsibility.

PR agency Ingredient Communications logo alongside a quote from Richard Clarke on industry innovation.

PR agency Ingredient Communications logo alongside a quote from Richard Clarke on industry innovation

Episode Transcript:

Richard Clarke: The innovation that we’ve seen over the past five years has really been focused on plant-based and around 100% vegan. So I wonder whether there’s been some neglecting of the needs of vegetarians in order to create products that vegans will find pleasing. In America, for example, there are four times as many vegetarians as there are vegans. It’s important from a commercial point of view not to neglect that percentage of the population.

Bethany Jolley: Welcome to NutraPreneur, the Neutral Industry podcast. I’m your host, food scientist, and nutraceuticals consultant, Bethany Jolley. Each episode we’ll be exploring what it takes to thrive in the nutraceutical industry. From conversations with successful nutraceutical entrepreneurs to venture capitalists to tech executives whose innovations are reshaping the nutraceutical industry. We explore the innovations and trends that are shaping the next generation of nutraceutical businesses. Welcome back to NutraPreneur, the podcast dedicated to unfolding the latest and most compelling stories in the nutraceutical world. I’m your host, Bethany. Today, we’re excited to welcome Richard Clarke, the Managing Director of Ingredient Communications. With a rich background in B2B journalism and a keen eye for market needs. Richard’s journey led him to establish a unique PR and communications consultancy that serves the food, beverage, dietary supplement, nutrition, and food ingredients industries. So let’s dive into how Richard’s expertise and Ingredients Communications are making a significant impact in these sectors. So, Richard, first, could you share with us your transition from a B2B journalist to founding Ingredients Communications and the key motivations behind this move?

Richard Clarke: Yeah, sure. Thanks for having me on the podcast. And also thank you for that wonderful introduction as well. I was a B2B journalist for about 15 years, and I worked across a number of food, beverage, and nutrition websites and magazines. And one of the frustrations I found as an editor was that a lot of the PR people I was dealing with didn’t really understand the sector that we were working in, so it was often the case that they perhaps were very inexperienced. PR professionals who’d been asked to look after quite important contracts and accounts and didn’t necessarily have the experience or the expertise to engage with a journalist who wanted to ask questions or find out more information about a subject. So it got me thinking that perhaps there was an opportunity for me to start up an agency, which was a bit more specialist, and the area that I recognized as needing the most attention was the ingredient sector, which was a kind of forgotten sector, if you like, in the industry. So when you ask people about the food industry, they’ll most likely mention farmers, perhaps they’ll mention brands and manufacturers and retailers, but they don’t realize there’s a lot of substrata, including the ingredient sector, including packaging, machinery, and so forth. And ingredients were the part of the industry that really interested me. So that was the one where I saw an opportunity and decided, in the end, to quit being a journalist and set up my own PR agency, which would serve exclusively ingredients companies who are selling into those sectors that you mentioned before.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, absolutely. And how does your journalistic background shape the way Ingredients Communications approaches PR and marketing strategies?

Richard Clarke: I think the primary way that’s manifested is that we have a really good understanding of what editors and journalists need from a PR agency, so we get it because we’ve been there and we’ve been on the other side of the fence. And in most agencies, you will find PR professionals who have only ever been on one side of the fence, and that’s fine. And I’m not criticizing them for that. They’ve got a career in PR and that’s fantastic. But the benefit of working with us is that we’ve been on the frontline of journalism, B2B journalism, and we know the challenges, the difficulties, and the way things work. So we try really hard, obviously, to represent our clients in the best way possible, but also deliver information that journalists and editors are going to find useful.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, absolutely. And I think there are a lot of companies out there that might know a little bit about the ingredients or what they’re trying to advertise, but may not be able to put it into words that are going to be appealing to consumers.

Richard Clarke: Yeah. So well, you mentioned consumers, but actually, we’re a B2B agency and we only work in the B2B sector. That’s because we only represent ingredients companies and these companies are not selling directly to consumers. Sometimes they are divisions of bigger companies that do sell to consumers. But for us, we restrict ourselves to specializing in ingredients and only working with ingredients. Companies who are selling on an industrial scale and at the B2B level. So we’re really niche in that sense.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, absolutely. That is very unique but I’m sure also helpful in that sector as well, because the industrial side of things, they want to know more about what they’re purchasing.

Richard Clarke: Yeah, absolutely. And there are several very good news services out there where we send our news in the hope of getting coverage, who relay information and updates to be professionals in the food and nutrition industries and I got a great deal of respect for them. And they provide an amazing service, and we love working with them.

Bethany Jolley: And giving your extensive experience. What critical changes have you observed in the communication needs of the food and nutraceutical industries?

Richard Clarke: B2B communications and media is a bit more slow-moving than the consumer or mainstream side of things, but change is happening, and over the ten years or so that I’ve been doing this, certain trends have emerged obviously. We’ve seen an uptick in social media use, and in B2B really we’re talking about LinkedIn primarily there, which is the most useful way to communicate professionally. We’ve also seen white papers and other similar deep-dive, high-value pieces of content become really important, and we really specialize in creating those. And the latest thing that’s really been emerging is AI and artificial intelligence, and in particular generative AI, whereby you are able to create content by inputting certain prompts. And we’re seeing that as both a challenge and an opportunity, we’re in the process at the moment of working out exactly what it means for us and what it means for our customers. We want to make sure that we use AI in a way that’s safe and ethical and helps our team and helps our customers, but we don’t want to fall into the trap of using it in a way that means that we put ourselves at risk in terms of our people and obviously our customers as well. It’s fraught with different kinds of risks as well as opportunities. So we’ve got to carefully balance that.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, and Ingredients Communications is known for transforming technical information into engaging content. So what is your approach to achieving this?

Richard Clarke: The most important thing is that we take time to understand our customers. And again, in a lot of agencies where they don’t specialize in any particular sector, it’s more challenging to do that for us because we work with ingredients, we work within B2C ingredients, food, beverage and nutrition, dietary supplements, and so forth. It gives us the opportunity to become really intimate with the sector and with our customers’ businesses. So what it enables us to do that is very simply understanding what our customers do, and that helps us to make sense of it in a way that means we can create engaging copy that’s going to appeal to their target audience.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. And it sounds like you’ve worked with a lot of different types of companies. So can you discuss with us a particularly successful campaign or project that really highlights your company’s unique services, like any event support or social media management?

Richard Clarke: Yeah, you mentioned event support, and there’s a number of trade shows in our industry, both in Europe and in the States and in Asia too, where we’ve got a really great track record of helping connect our customers when they’re exhibiting there with the journalists who are visiting as well. So that’s a really major focus for us because it’s a brilliant opportunity for our customers to meet journalists face to face. Normally everyone is scattered around the world, so yes, they communicate via email and via online, video calls. But the opportunity to meet face to face makes a huge difference in terms of building a relationship, of building trust between our customer and the journalist. And we don’t want to be a gatekeeper. We are more a facilitator. So whereas some PR agencies will do what they can to try and avoid the journalists actually talking directly to the client, we’re very happy for that to take place because we believe it’s it’s healthy.

Bethany Jolley: And how do you tailor your communication strategies to cater to the different sectors, like the food versus the beverages versus the supplements versus personal care?

Richard Clarke: Yeah, the bedrock of our business is our database. So we’ve got a very large database with hundreds of journalists on it. All of them are in the B2B ingredient sector. And of course, they work across different industries, different categories, and we’ve segmented them. And we also segmented them geographically as well by country and by continent. So that means we’re able to target relevant media very carefully depending on what the campaign is. And that’s important for two reasons. One, in terms of effectiveness, making sure that we reach the right people, but also from a data protection point of view, we don’t want to be bombarding journalists with irrelevant information that tempts them into unsubscribing from our messages. So we take great care to try to make sure the messages are tailored and only sent to the relevant people. We may not get it right 100% of the time, but we do our very best to. And yeah, so this database is unique to us, only we use it. We built it ourselves because there’s nothing else out there like it. It took us a long time to build and we keep it updated, but it really is what underpins everything we do in terms of media relations.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. And I’m sure having that database gives you an advantage for sure, since it is unique to you and you built it out specifically for what you’re trying to capture and what you’re trying to do.

Richard Clarke: Yeah, absolutely. So there are lots of lists out there which you can purchase. And I believe that none of those, in terms of our sector, I’m not talking about any other sectors, but in terms of our sector, none of those, I believe, can deliver the breadth of contacts that we can. And I can’t speak to other PR agencies’ lists. But if they’re an agency that’s dealing in lots and lots of sectors, they’re not going to be able to put the same care and effort and attention into building a very specific list for the ingredient sector that we have. So I like to think that we’ve got the most extensive list in the industry. There are probably people out there who would disagree, and that’s fine. But for us, it really is a strong selling point.

Bethany Jolley: This episode is brought to you by If your business needs credit card processing that fully integrates with most major neutral software platforms, offers the lowest industry prices, and has built-in features like recurring billing, zero-dollar trials, and chargeback prevention. And visit us at for a free online quote. I saw a recent press release that was discussed, and they were talking about the declining satisfaction among vegetarians with available food products. So what do you think is driving this trend?

Richard Clarke: Okay, so just a bit of background is we like to promote ourselves as well as our customers. We said most of our time promoting our customers, but every now and then we like to promote ourselves. And one of the things we do is carry out some consumer research, which we think will be interesting and insightful for companies and individuals in the food industry. And we partner with a research company called SAVACOU, which is based not too far away from us here in the south of England. And this time we chose to actually repeat some research we conducted five years ago in 2018. So the long distant past in which we asked vegetarians and vegans about their satisfaction with the products that are available for them on the market to buy. So food, beverage, etc. We were quite surprised, we were pretty taken aback that although vegans in Omaha were really happy with how things are. 

Richard Clarke: Vegetarians are much less so. So we surveyed consumers in the US and the UK and the net satisfaction rates among vegetarians in this survey. This year’s survey was 8%, but in 2018 it was 47%. So there was a huge fall in the number of vegetarian consumers that were happy with the products available. So in five years, there’s been this huge shift. So in America, in particular, because I know a lot of your listeners will be stateside, that satisfaction in 2018 among vegetarians was 38% and it is now -10%. Sorry, I had to refer to my numbers there. My memory is not what it was. It’s now -7%. So it’s gone from plus 35, 38% five years ago to -10% now. So that’s what we found basically vegans are really happy with the products that are available to them. Vegetarians are much less happy with the products available to them. That’s a really interesting finding.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, it is. You would think it would be very similar because they’re probably purchasing a lot of the same types of foods, I would think, and I have seen more plant-based options whenever I’ve been shopping lately, but I haven’t tried a lot of them, so I’m not sure what they taste like.

Richard Clarke: Well, because we weren’t expecting this outcome, so we didn’t really dive deep into that. We were repeating a survey from five years ago as well. So we had to take care to ask the same questions. So this I think, warrants further exploration, more research. But I think what you said there hits upon something important. We’ve seen a lot of plant-based products. And in fact, over the past five years, we’ve seen an explosion in plant-based products, which is another way of saying vegan products. Now, a lot of these products are actually fantastic. They really are. I’m not surprised that vegans are happy because suddenly they’ve got a lot of products available to them, which weren’t previously, and they may well say, “Well, it’s about time somebody took care of us.” And they’ve got a good point. However, I think possibly and this is speculation really, because it’s not something that we’ve looked at scientifically, but my hunch is that retailers and brands have been lumping vegetarians and vegans together in much the same way that you did earlier there, where you said they buy the same products. 

Richard Clarke: Yes, there’s a crossover, but I wonder if actually, vegetarians are finding 100% plant-based products less appealing than vegans are. One obvious reason, which is that vegetarians eat dairy products, they eat cheese, they eat butter, they eat cream, and they eat eggs, which are all ingredients, which can be used in meat-free products and can help them taste delicious. Obviously, if you’re making a vegan product, you’ve got to find alternatives. And like I say, there are some wonderful vegan products out there. But you know, if you’re a vegetarian, maybe you’re not looking for products that are completely free of dairy and egg. You just want them to be free of meat and fish. And the innovation that we’ve seen over the past five years has really been focused on plant-based and around 100% vegan. So I wonder whether there’s been some neglecting of the needs of vegetarians in order to create products that vegans will find pleasing.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. And when you review these surveys, how do these insights influence the strategies that you recommend to your clients in the food and nutraceutical industries?

Richard Clarke: Yeah, our customers as ingredient suppliers are really good at responding to trends. They are selling to the manufacturers, the brands who are then obviously selling to the retailers. So really, I think that the message from this survey, the findings from this survey, really speak to what manufacturers, brands, a retail stores rather than the ingredients supplies, and I think that they perhaps should consider whether they failed to innovate enough vegetarians. They’ve innovated in brilliant ways for vegans, but in America, for example, there are four times as many vegetarians as there are vegans. So it’s important from a commercial point of view, not to neglect that percentage of the population which is vegetarian and not vegan. And I think perhaps over the last five years we have seen so many plant-based, 100% plant-based products come into the market that some vegetarians may feel a little bit alienated, like, well, yes, you’re really looking after the vegans, but you’re not really looking after us.

Richard Clarke: I’m happy to have eggs in my cake or cheese on my pizza, real cheese on my pizza. So it’s complex because everybody’s different. But clearly, the findings are trying to tell us something here. Obviously, the complication here is that I think a lot of these plant-based products are actually trying to appeal to people who are looking to reduce their meat and dairy intake as well. So I call them Flexitarians, for example. And there are a lot of people who would claim to follow that kind of diet. But over the longer term, you’ve got to remember that people that are really going to keep buying these products are vegans and vegetarians. The flexitarians will come and go. That number may rise. That number may fall. I think you’ve got to make sure you’re looking after your core constituency. And it would appear to me that vegetarians have become a little bit left behind in the race to go plant-based.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. And hopefully, we’ll see an expansion in the vegetarian products that are available in the future like you just from those insights.

Richard Clarke: Yeah, I think also Bethany, Arnie will probably repeat this survey next year so we can see whether there’s a consistent pointing. Possibly this turned out to be a blip, who knows? But I think that the swing was large enough for me to think that there is something going on there, and I’m going to lay my cards on the table here. Actually, I’m a vegetarian. I’m not a vegan, I’m a vegetarian, and I enjoy eating dairy products, and I like eggs as well in my products. So I also eat a lot of vegan products. I think they’re absolutely fantastic. But definitely, there is a sense that being vegan is being catered for in a much greater way than being vegetarian is with its different needs. And given that vegetarians represent a much bigger proportion of the population than vegans do, I think it’s really worthwhile for brands and retailers to make sure that they take a fresh look at that sector and see whether or not there is a bit more innovation that they could do.

Bethany Jolley: Absolutely. Those are all great points. What advice would you offer to companies looking to better address the needs of vegetarians and vegans and their product development?

Richard Clarke: I think perhaps more research would be good, and perhaps bigger companies with bigger resources could look at this in more detail. They could see if they’re able to repeat our findings in terms of the dissatisfaction levels, and also go a little bit deeper into why they’re dissatisfied and find out because I am speculating, but clearly, there is a reason for it. And I think that it warrants further exploration. So I would say take notice of these findings. But more work is needed to, a) replicate them and b) if they’re replicated, find out exactly what is going on here and then you’re able to address that.

Bethany Jolley: Absolutely. Well, thank you, Richard, once again for sharing your invaluable insights and experiences with us today. And your journey in the work of Ingredients Communications truly exemplifies the innovative spirit of the nutraceutical industry. To our listeners, we encourage you to learn more about Richard’s work and explore the services of ingredient communications. Don’t forget to subscribe and join the conversation on our social platforms. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories and trends in the dynamic world of nutraceuticals. Until next time, keep exploring and innovating. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of NutraPreneur. If you enjoy the show, please subscribe and better yet, leave us a review as it really helps us grow the show.