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ISP buys into UK encapsulation


US alginate firm International Specialty Products (ISP) continues to consolidate its position in the food ingredients sector announcing the bolt-on acquisition of UK ingredients company Hallcrest.

In February this year the ambitious firm, led by chairman and majority stockholder corporate raider Samuel Heyman, acquired UK stabiliser firm Red Carnation Gums (RCG) and signed a distribution agreement with Mingtai Chemical, a Tawainese manufacturer of cellulose ingredients.

"The Hallcrest products complement the ISP product line and enable us to offer more unique and exciting ingredients for our customers' finished product formulations, " said Sunil Kumar, ISP president and CEO.

Poole-based Hallcrest specialises in the making and supplying of microcapsules - small particles which contain an active agent or core material surrounded by a shell or coating and a technique used in the food industry to harnass, for example, flavour.

The sizes of the capsules can range from a few microns to a few millimetres and the microcapsules can be either individually coated lipophilic droplets of a liquid, or semi-solid, or a continuous gel matrix containing a dispersion of core material.

Although there are a number of different microencapsulation techniques, Hallcrest works in two areas of phase separation processes - complex coacervation and ionic gelation. The complex coacervation process - a technique used for essential oils and vitamins - involves the formation of microcapsules by the separation of a water-soluble coating or shell wrapping around individual oil droplets and hardening to form microcapsules.

Founded in 1960, the UK firm has five manufacturing zones split between the US and the UK. Terms of the Hallcrest purchase by ISP were not disclosed.

For the past three years ISP has made no secret of the fact that it is on the acquisition trail but two acquisitions announced within two months of each other shows the firm means business.

The agreement with Mingtai Chemica extends ISP's reach in the US stabiliser market through the distribution of Mingtai's range of cellulose ingredients. Used in the food industry to stabilise suspensions and add creaminess to beverages, sauces and low fat dressings, demand for cellulose ingredients is being driven by fat replacement applications.

"We are impressed with Mingtai's dedication to being a leader in providing high-quality, high-value ingredients," said Kumar at the time of the agreement.

The move followed hot on the heels of the puchase by ISP Food Specialities, the UK arm of privately-held ISP, of 30 year old stabiliser firm Red Carnation Gums (RCG), adding emulsifiers, stabilisers and gelling systems to ISP's portfolio.

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