Chr. Hansen Natural Colors announces company name change to Oterra

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image privided by Oterra
Image privided by Oterra

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FoodNavigator can exclusively reveal Chr. Hansen Natural Colors’s new company name and identity following the move to a standalone company.

Chr. Hansen Natural Colors has announced today the company will be known as Oterra, effective immediately, and will begin the process to operate under the new name.  

The new name, Oterra, is inspired by the Latin word for earth. The rebranding reflects the company’s commitment to provide the world with colours from natural sources, and contribute to food that is natural, authentic, safe and sustainable. The company’s ownership and staff have not changed. 

CEO Odd Erik Hansen stated: “We have been producing natural colours for more than 145 years now – our new name and brand identity are rooted in this proud heritage and reflect our belief that nature provides the best ingredients. We help our customers meet the increasing global consumer demand for natural products by utilising the power of nature’s true colours and our unrivalled expertise in colours for food, beverage and pet food.”

Introducing Oterra_1600x900_Hansensweetpotato
The company says the new name marks it as an independent natural colour-focussed company folowing its split from the Chr. Hansen group

He added a name change became necessary after Chr. Hansen Natural Colors became a standalone company after it was acquired by Swedish private equity firm EQT in 2021. In April 2021 the company announced its first strategic investment with the acquisition of SECNA Natural Ingredients Group S.L., a move which supports EQT’s strong growth plans for the company. 

"We are no longer part of the Chr. Hansen group. The choice of a name that now focuses entirely on the natural and what we're all about was the natural choice for us. It marks us as an independent natural colour-focussed company that sets us apart from the broader group that we were previously part of."

He said the move will further allow it to bolster its position as a leader in natural colours. "Being a standalone natural colours-focussed company, we live breath and think natural colours. We have already shown with our first acquisition of SECNA that we are willing to grow and invest strategically in building our business and strengthening our competencies so that we better serve the consumer demand for more natural colours that our customers are trying to meet."

He added the company was eyeing further acquisition targets. "We want to strengthen our basis in natural colours and find complimentary assets that support us in bringing in important raw materials, new colours and pigments to our portfolio. We fully expect to continue to add to the acquisition list over coming years."

Wendy Walsh, Head of Brand and Marketing Communications at Oterra, added the company was determined to respond to an increased desire among end consumers to avoid non-natural colours in food and beverages. 

“Today's consumers are savvy about what they eat. They want food to be made with recognizable ingredients and want to understand how it’s made. Clearly, consumers want to move away from artificial ingredients. Of course, it's more challenging in some instances than others but we have a full portfolio of nearly 1,000 products and its possible to move to natural colours for almost any application and nearly any colour. We know that's what consumers want."

Hansen highlighted the challenges the company envisages as it continues to explore natural colours. "We are working with truly natural sources of product and those products have different degrees of stability in different product applications. Therefore, understanding how each and individual colour pigment behaves in that solution is an important thing and that's one of the things we pride ourselves at being really good at. Second, red is not just red, for example. We have red from many different sources whether it's a red beet or a sweet potato so we can offer red pigment from many different sources that then have different stabilities and work better or worse in different food formulations. Bringing that completeness to our customers is a key element of making the move to natural colours work."

Organic, plant-based, clean label and foodservice trends 

He added the company is looking to add more organic colours to its range which it hopes to bring to market later this year. Other trends in the industry the company wants to take advantage of include plant-based and clean lean label. These two trends are linked, said Walsh, as companies attempt to make a new generation of plant-based products with fewer ingredients. She added that the foodservice sector is increasingly seeking natural colour options, and would be a growth area to watch despite the sector being ravaged for the moment by the pandemic.

"Before COVID, in both the UK and the US, more people were getting their meals from a foodservice location than from the grocery store. When people buy freshly prepared food there is no ingredient label, but they still want that food to be natural and authentic using good ingredients. So that's a place of real growth for us."

Global ambitions

The Oterra name will be included in the company's global operation and the company is looking to invest in a global platform. It plans to establish a new production facility in North America in the next couple of years. It also recently moved to a new production facility in China and is currently improving its plant in Peru. 

Cees de Jong, Oterra Board Chairman, commented: “The board is very excited about the relaunch as Oterra – a name and identity that encapsulates our purpose and sustainable value proposition. We see great growth ahead for Oterra and are confident the company will accelerate its development under its new brand.”

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