According to Maggie Walker, marketing controller of Frutarom, the sector is experimenting more with spices, especially as health remains a priority for consumers.
Science-based techniques like flavor modulation allows a reduction of salt using a natural flavor, which, she says, “sort of confuses the brain into thinking there’s a saltiness there when there isn’t.”
Producers are also playing around with new substrates to answer consumer demand for healthier snacks, so the market is seeing more offerings using lentils, ancient grains and quinoa.
“[Consumers] don't have to compromise: they can have a great taste that's a little bit more healthy.”
According to Walker, Frutarom is one of the few able to mill and blend its own seasonings. The Israeli flavors and natural ingredients firm sells more than 70,000 products, 75% of which are natural.
“We've got a great appreciation across every food category and we take our learnings from across the global that we see in our own regions and apply them into the category that's relevant for our customers,” she said.
A merger of two giants
The company was recently acquired by International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) for $7.1bn.
The deal – which pushes the New York-based flavor and fragrance giant into second place in the fast-growing natural flavors industry – is part of its ‘Vision 2020 strategy’ to become the global leader in taste, scent and nutrition.
The acquisition keep this vision on track as both companies have complementary customers, capabilities and geographic reach.
“Consumers are focused on health and wellness and part of that is expressed as a preference for naturals. So, it is no surprise that we are seeing a lot of growth in the naturals market,” Michael DeVeau, IFF’s VP of Strategy, Investor Relations and Communications, said at the time.
The merger will also help IFF gain a foothold with smaller to mid-sized brands, which are enjoying higher margins than those controlled by consumer conglomerates. Around 70% of Fratrom's sales come from this market.
Frutarom’s recent growth spurt was an obvious enticer, too. In the past two years, the company went on an aggressive acquisition spree, closing 22 deals, including ingredients company I.B.R-Israeli Biotechnology Research, and 51% of the shares of Bremil Indústria, the top producer of savory solutions in Brazil.
Frutarom’s forecasted sales are on track to hit $2.25bn.
“We’re in that integration phase where they pull the two [companies] together,” said Walker.
“But Frutarom was a very complex business before IFF bought it... we have lots of interesting divisions within Frutarom, like the health division – where they deal a lot with almost pharmaceutical type-based health [offerings] – leading into food protection, which is using natural rosemary as an antioxidant, for example… so, as you can imagine, the integration is going to take a little while.”