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Sensient execs on Mazza buy: “We want to take everything out of the botanical”

July 20, 2018
Food & Drink

Sensient is eyeing the newly acquired botanical extraction company Mazza Innovation as a strategic pillar for all of its business operations, including colors and flavors. Presented under the new name of “Sensient Natural Extraction” and continuing to operate out of Canada, the new business unit provides a clean extraction opportunity for Sensient Technologies Corp. The acquisition will offer opportunities in sustainability, cost reduction and clean label, as the entire botanical being used can be broken down and distributed among the diverse companies that comprise Sensient.

It is indicative of a more significant trend whereby players in the flavors space are eyeing innovative technologies amid a clean label drive, with International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) acquiring PowderPure in 2016, for example, and now strongly highlighting this business.

Last week, FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister website NutritionInsight reported on how Sensient had moved to acquire Mazza for an undisclosed fee. In an interview with David Rigg, Director of Global Marketing and David Gebhardt, Technical Director, Food Colors, Sensient Colors at the 2018 IFT Food Expo in Chicago, both executives confirmed that despite the relatively small scale of the acquisition, this was a highly strategic move that can offer benefits across the board.

“Sensient’s acquisition strategy is not about buying up a market share, but rather about gaining complementary technologies,” says Rigg, in explaining the rationale. “Today Mazza’s primary focus is on nutraceuticals and some personal care. What will happen in the next 6-12 months is that they will work with our technical team in the extraction of color-specific products.”

Mazza’s PhytoClean Method is a water-based extraction process that concentrates bioactives by pressurizing water at moderate temperatures, significantly increasing the water’s ability to solubilize bioactive compounds from botanical sources. In effect, this extraction process provides as good as, or better yields and purities than industrial chemical solvents. This environmentally-friendly, clean process can be applied to extract a range of compounds for use in nutraceuticals, cosmetics, flavorings, colorings, pharmaceuticals, functional foods and beverages.

Paprika is a good example of a raw material that Sensient is targeting when can be adopting the technology. “Paprika has a wonderful orange shade and can be used in a number of different applications, including beverages. Traditionally, however, it has been extracted using harsh chemical solvents, such as hexane. So we will be able to bring high-performance paprika colors to market. In the longer term, we will be able to look at fractionation and essentially get the color components out. You could then also consider extracting compounds from foods such as radish, which may have some off notes in them,” Rigg adds.

Gebhardt reiterates how Mazza’s main focus in the past has been strongly focused on the extraction of healthy ingredients and there is typically much more available that can be sourced from a single botanical, including color and flavor compounds. “For example, Mazza would extract the polyphenols, but what we are aiming to take the entire components out. In paprika, you can take the polyphenols out, but you can also take the highly purified color out too,” he explains.

“So by using this technology and using green solvents with this, whether water or ethanol, you can break down a botanical and make its compounds available for different markets. So instead of taking a botanical, pulling the colorant out of it and letting the rest of it go to waste, we are looking at how to take everything out of it more efficiently,” he says.

Rigg stresses the advantages from both a sustainability and cost perspective standpoint. “If we generate more revenue streams from the botanical, the color cost will be brought down for us as well,” he notes.

Mazza technology is also well in line with the overarching clean label trend, which is now almost seen as the standard in product development. “The initial argument about natural ingredients is over – it is more of an evolution,” he claims. “Initially, in colors, it was about ‘where does the color come from?’ We have now moved to a phase where it is about how is it processed and whether any additives or processing aids are being used that we didn’t know about – this innovation will allow us to be very clean as well,” he explains.

This is quite a strategic investment for the company, despite the relatively small size of Mazza. “We have had this acquisition in the works for a few months. Our focus is really is about looking at technologies. We really don’t look to buy customer or product lists. With the breadth that Sensient has, this technology fits us very well. We have cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food colors and flavors. This technology can spread across all these different platforms, so we don’t have to buy something that is specifically focused on colors, so much as a technology for extraction that can be used in all of these different ranges,” explains Rigg.

Within the overall picture of a major ingredient player such as Sensient, the acquisition of Mazza may appear small in revenue terms, but it is nonetheless significant regarding strategy. While no specifics of the acquisition price were given, Rigg did offer some perspective when considering that the overall Sensient business is worth about US$1.3 billion, with Colors accounting for about US$500 million of this revenue. Sensient Natural Extractions will make up less than 5 percent of the total Sensient Food Colors revenues immediately and about 2 percent of the company’s turnover as a whole.

But the ambitions for the new business unit are significant going forward. “What it will provide us with is a boost for food colors in the long-term. We would expect it to more than double in terms of revenue in the next couple of years. Those revenues will probably occur through colors, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and flavors. It will not necessarily be that Sensient Natural Extractions will be expanding in the marketplace. So you can expect them be gaining through both colors and flavors,” he concludes.

Sensient’s acquisition of Mazza Innovation is not the only example of a major ingredient player looking beyond its core in targeting an innovative technology. Also at IFT this year, International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) presented PowderPure under its portfolio for the first time, some 18 months after the initial acquisition of the young US-based company.

“PowderPure has a very interesting drying technology that allows us to produce very clean and concentrated fruit and vegetable powders. These are certainly relevant to the natural trend and the desire for cleaner labels that we see in the marketplace,” Carmen Cain at the company, tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “They are able to take whole fruits and vegetables and run them along a conveyor belt. By using infrared light that targets the water molecule, they are able to end up with a very pure powder that retains color, nutrition and taste. It also has some interesting functional benefits in terms of adding texture to many other formulations as well.”

So far, IFF has been running a lot of testing of the product and technology. “We have seen it to be very interesting in bars, whether cereal-based or other forms of snack bars. It provides great color and taste, with very low microbiological activity in the powder, so that can be quite advantageous for applications where there is typically a high level of microbiological activity. It also offers good dispersion of flavor. In a bar, for example, we have seen it provide a nice binding effect without the need to use other gums, starches or stabilizers, but still with an appealing texture,” she says.

Another interesting area has been the concept of stealth health, which could aid the silent smuggling of more vegetables into a typical child’s diets. “We have played with a macaroni & cheese, but were able to use sweet potato and pumpkin PowderPure product to create a formulation that looks, tastes and has the mouthfeel of traditional mac & cheese. Yet it provides a serving of vegetables, with all of the fiber and nutrition benefits of eating fresh fruit and vegetables,” Cain adds.

IFF’s aim at this year’s event was to highlight the progress and early financial success for their North American TastePoint pillar [based on the legacy David Michael and Ottens Flavors businesses], which serves the needs of small and medium-sized operators.

Cain says: “The response from customers to TastePoint has been very positive. They are glad that we have left TastePoint at arm’s length from IFF. It continues to be an entrepreneurial organization that can serve small, medium and start-up organizations. At the same time, we are able to feed all the R&D, technology, sensory and consumer insights capabilities into it of IFF. It gives them the opportunity to play with really good technology but in a way that is suited to small and quick changing organizations,” she notes.

The strategy will likely be replicated in other parts of the world where IFF has traditionally been less prevalent, through legacy Frutarom businesses. While Cain stresses that the closing of the Frutarom deal is still a work in progress, she agrees that the mosaic of companies that the legacy business will consist of, together with a highly fragmented customer base, means that a replication of the TastePoint model through some of the business would only be logical.

“We see some synergies between Frutarom’s portfolio, the types of customers that they serve, markets that they are in and the fact that they are present in some areas where IFF is not too. The TastePoint model and way of working on a localized level with small and medium-sized customers and is very synergistic with the needs of fast-paced customers should make sense,” Cain concludes.

By: Robin Wyers

Source: Food Ingredients First

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