The company – which is also developing stevia, vanillin and other ingredients through microbial fermentation – acquired San Diego-based fermentation specialist Allylix last year, which was already producing fermentation-derived nootkatone.
Bringing the ingredient under the Evolva umbrella would expand its production and global availability, the firm’s head of investor relations, Paul Verbraeken, told FoodNavigator.
“Allylix back last year wasn’t making a big splash with nootkatone because they were financially constrained, but that’s no longer the case,” he said. “They couldn’t put much resource behind the product but that’s changed now.”
The compound, which is responsible for the characteristic smell of grapefruit, is already approved for use in flavours and fragrances for food, drinks and skin care products in most major geographies, he added. Brewing nootkatone from sugar, rather than extracting it from grapefruit skin, means it is more reproducible and affordable, Evolva said.
Via traditional extraction methods, it takes about four tonnes of grapefruit to create one kilogram of nootkatone. However, grapefruit supply varies from year to year with the harvest and also the whim of consumers – demand for the fruit and juice dictates the amount of by-product available for flavour extraction too, and demand has been shrinking for about 15 years even as demand for nootkatone has remained strong.
Evolva said it did not expect the ingredient to have a significant impact on its revenues in 2015, but added “revenues and net income are expected to increase significantly from 2016 onwards”.
However, the company says the greatest commercial prospects for fermentation-derived nootkatone rely on its pending approval as an insect and tick repellent in the United States – and eventually beyond. Evolva says the US regulatory approval process for this is likely to take two to three years.