Imcopa to supply non-GM soy lecithin direct to Europe

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Brazil Supply and demand

Brazilian soy crusher Imcopa has set up operations in The
Netherlands with the aim of supplying the European market with
non-GM soy lecithin directly and building awareness of its own
brand amongst food manufacturers.

The family-owned company was founded in 1969, but until now has supplied the European market through its large customers, including major suppliers in the market. It has been a non-GM soy lecithin supplier since the 1990s, and now claims a 38 per cent share in the European non-GM soy lecithin market, with production of around 20,000 metric tonnes in 2006. The decision to supply the European market directly was taken as a result of increasing contact between South American suppliers and European buyers and on-going resistance to GMOs in Europe. Moreover, the company says that there is more interest from food companies in vegetable proteins including soy as a result of animal food scares. Marco Oomen, sales manager lecithin, told Food that the company continues to work with its customers, but wishes to increase its direct sales over the next couple of years. The benefits of direct supply include a significant reduction in lead times. While at container ship takes around four weeks to reach Europe from Brazil, when supplying direct from its dedicated non-GM storage facility in Rotterdam, however, an order can be fulfilled in as little as three days. Bringing in soy products in bulk from Brazil results in more cost efficiencies, and the company can share savings with its clients, said Imcopa. The company is also setting out to build awareness of its brand directly, but Oomen stressed that that this is directed solely at food manufacturers. "We are fully dedicated to food ingredients,"​ he said. "We do not want the brand on finished products."​ The company expects the majority of its direct deliveries to European customers to commence from the second half of this year. Before they can start, customers tend to conduct audits of suppliers' facilities and grant approval based on each customers' specifications. The Brazilian non-GM soy market is subject to supply fluctuations - which also has an impact on price. One of the main causes of fluctuations is contamination with GMOs. Imcopa follows the market pricing, but Marco said that contamination is less of a problem for the company than it is for some of its competitors since it pays a premium to farmers so that non-GM crops are kept far removed from GM. For more information Marco Ooman can be reached at znepb.bbzra@vzpbcn.pbz​. Supply comes from seven large cooperatives, involving 35,000 farmers in total. Most are based in Parana, Brazil's second largest state. Imcopa also conducts a test for GM contamination at the gate when each truckload arrives at the gates of the crushing facility. The company has full non-GM certification, and says it was the first Brazilian soy supplier to gain ProTerra certification for sustainable practices. "It is important that we perform in a sustainable way,"​ said Oomen. "We do not use child-labour, we do not cause de-forestation, we use renewable energy sources." ​The third-party ProTerra certification mark was introduced last year and is designed to help suppliers assure their buyers, and ultimately consumers, that their products have been produced sustainably. ​According to the Brazilian Agriculture Department, soy consumption is set to increase by 26.8 per cent before 2015 on 2005 levels. Global demand for non-GMO lecithin is currently estimated at between 45,000 and 65,000 metric tonnes a year, according to figures supplied by Imcopa, against total demand for all lecithins (GM and non-GM) of 180,000 to 220,000. For more information on Imcopa, contact znepb.bbzra@vzpbcn.pbz

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