Novozymes looks to sway US biotech views
Washington DC, the Danish biotechnology group announced this week.
The company, which develops enzymes to be used as food ingredients, detergents and in alternative fuel production, said it wanted to "improve contacts with decision makers within the American government, with federal agencies and industry trade organisations". "Our Washington office is an important step in the development of our relations with US authorities and global decision makers," said Garrett Screws, governmental relations manager for Novozymes USA. The group added that it also wanted to "ensure good public policy working conditions for manufacturers of industrial biotechnology". "Public opinion on biotechnology is changing at the moment and that's why it's important that Novozymes has the right contacts and access to those forums that lead the discussions on which role industrial biotechnology should play in society and what is needed in terms of development in this area," said Screws. The new office will be located at the Danish embassy in Washington DC. According to market researcher Freedonia, the US enzyme market is set for healthy growth in the next few years. It predicted in a recent report that demand for enzymes for use in food and beverage processing applications would increase by 4.1 percent annually to reach $262m in 2010. Freedonia warned, however, that continuing concern among organic food consumers over the incorporation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) - with which bioengineered enzymes are often associated - into the food supply may restrain growth. This is one reason why it is important that companies such as Novozymes have a strong base in Washington with direct access to the US authorities, lobby groups and public so that they have the greatest possible opportunity to appease these concerns. Enzymes are used in the food industry as processing aids and provide a natural way for food and beverage manufacturers to improve production efficiency, as well as food quality and consistency. Novozymes, the leading supplier of enzymes to the US food and beverage market, has been reaping some of these rewards and recently revised upwards its financial expectations for 2007, after reporting a sales increase of 18 percent for the first three months of the year. After its Q1 results were announced in April, the group said it expected growth in sales in DKK to be 8 to 10 percent for the full year (11 to 13 percent in local currencies) and 11 to 13 percent in operating profit. The group reported total 2006 sales of DKK 680m ($123m) and operating profit of DKK 1 340m ($243m). The enzyme market's growth will be boosted by increasing demand from manufacturers seeking more effective ingredients for specific applications, claimed Freedonia. The food and beverage industry currently accounts for 13.3 percent of total enzyme demand. This percentage is expected to drop in the future as other segments - such as pharmaceuticals - gain in importance, but food and beverage processing is forecast to continue to comprise a significant share of the overall market. By 2013, total food and beverage enzyme sales are estimated to reach $320m.