The company told FoodNavigator that most of the capacity at the plant, which it announced plans to extend 18 months ago, would support production of synthetic menthols for foods including pharmaceutical and mainstream confectionery. The factory now covers an area of 300 square metres and has five floors.
Norbert Richter, head of the global business unit for molecules at Symrise, which has doubled its menthol production with the extension, said: “We see increasing demand, especially in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. This is the reason why we have invested in expansion.”
Dr Heinz-Jurgen Bertram, chief executive of Symrise, said: “The demand for menthol is experiencing double digit percentage growth – primarily in the emerging markets. Their economic strength will have a significant effect on the global markets in the future."
Market heating up
Richter estimated that Symrise served “about 30% of world demand”. And he said to his knowledge Symrise was the only major manufacturer of synthetic menthol in Europe. However, he predicted that the market was set to be heating up, with competitors poised to enter the fray. “We definitely intend to do more with the entire menthol business in the future,” he added.
The Holzminden plant was able to make menthol using a process called enantiomeric separation, which was highly sustainable, creating virtually no waste he said. The resulting menthol had a purity level of 99.7%, he added. The factory could make pharmaceutical and food grade menthol, said Richter.
Outside of the food industry, considerable demand for menthol was coming from manufacturers of shower gels, where it was used as a cooling agent, he said. This was another area Symrise would continue to explore.
“Menthol is a well-liked taste direction in chewing gum and candy,” said a spokeswoman for the business. Menthol was one of the top three tastes favoured by consumers, alongside vanilla and citrus, she said.
Relationship with Lanxess
Symrise said it was also able to double menthol capacity thanks to a 40-year relationship with Leverkusen-based partner Lanxess, which is similarly investing in menthol production. Lanxess could provide additional supplies to Symrise, said Richter.
Dr Hubert Fink, head of the basic chemicals unit at Lanxess, said: “In order to cement our partnership we have also expanded our capacities and look forward to the continued close and successful partnership.”
Symrise had cemented the close relationship by signing a long term supply agreement with Lanxess, said Richter.
The Holzminden factory now covers an area of 300 square metres and has five floors. Symrise is also investing in its menthol facilities in Bushy Park in the US.