The Slovenian ingredients firm produces a range of natural rosemary extracts, which come in oil- and water-soluble powder and liquid forms, and are marketed as non-chemical alternative antioxidant preservatives in everything from meat, baked goods, milk and confectionery.
Speaking after Vitiva tied-up a new strategic partnership with South African ingredients company Savannah to launch its rosemary extract portfolio into that country, CEO Ohad Cohen told FoodNavigator.com that interest in rosemary extracts had boomed since European Commision (EC) approval of them as safe and effective food antioxidants in October 2010.
“We had more than 200 projects on hold within the EU, but now the legislation is being fixed – and we are still in dialogue with the EC and EFSA on certain minor issues that remain unclear – these projects are now moving ahead, and progress on them is much faster,” said Cohen.
Germany leads pack
In January 2009 Vitiva opened a UK office, where consumer wariness of E-numbers and chemical sounding ingredients in food was driving numerous launches on a ‘no additives/preservatives’ and ‘natural’ platform.
But Cohen said that despite the UK’s status as an important market, it was being outstripped by other EU states: “Looking at market size for natural antioxidants, Germany and France are leading the way in terms of volumes and applications, although clients in the UK are still looking for natural solutions.
“We are establishing an office in Germany from May, since it is close to Slovenia in any case: Germany and France are leading the way in terms of volume and the array of applications employed.”
Meat was the largest product area in Germany, said Cohen, but he said a “wider market” also encompassed fats and oils, bakery, milk and milk powders (where the latter are also supplied in vending machines), confectionery, creams and fillings, as well as the snack industry.
“Solutions vary from system to system,” said Cohen, “where, for instance, simple fats and oils cannot tolerate the flavour impact of rosemary, so we need to employ more deodorised versions.”
South African promise
Cohen said Vitiva’s new partnership with Savannah to provide bespoke oxidation management and shelf life solutions, would open-up, “a big market within South Africa where a large population desires quality foods, but also premium markets elsewhere within Africa”.
A “large meat market” in South Africa had particular potential, Cohen said, while he added that many products in the country still contain traditional synthetic or chemical antioxidants such as BHA, BHT, TBQH and ascorbate.
Said Cohen:“The limited variety of natural antioxidants available in the South African market do not provide satisfactory solutions and are often characterised by strong colour, odour and bitterness, and support few food applications.”
Vitiva is also well-positioned to weather world price hikes for key commodities such as herbs, as Cohen explained.
“We have our own plantations that supply us with several selected species of wild rosemary (there are over 300 in all), which contain 3-4 times the number of active ingredients as standard varieties.
“Global price fluctuations don’t affect either us or our customers, since we set seven-year contracts with individual growers that establish stable prices.”