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Business headlines

Business briefs – Cargill – Nestlé – CHr. Hansen – UTZ – Phytolon

Who said business is boring? Each week Food & Beverage Insider gives you the 411 on key industry moves affecting innovation and product development.

Cargill to build $21 million House of Chocolate complex

In a move to facilitate better product development and enhance the customer collaboration experience, Cargill is building a $US21 million “House of Chocolate” complex at its Mouscron, Belgium site. The complex, which is currently being built alongside the company’s existing chocolate production plant, will include a state-of-the-art chocolate experience center, a unique pilot plant, a sensory lab and creative workspace for the company’s European research and development (R&D) team of chocolate engineers.

The new 700-square-meter complex will enable customers to experience the convenience of an all-in-one development process, from inspiration, innovation and training, through pilot lab testing, sensory testing and finally, culminating in commercial-scale production—at a single location. The pilot center is scheduled to open in Fall 2021 while the chocolate experience center and sensory lab will be operational in January 2022. The new complex incorporates cutting-edge technology to reduce its ecological footprint, including the use of geothermal energy to significantly reduce energy consumption.

Nestlé launches R&D Accelerator for dairy, plant-based dairy alternatives

Nestlé on Sept. 28 launched its new R&D Accelerator to drive innovation and speed-to-market of sustainable dairy products, as well as plant-based dairy alternatives. Located at the company’s R&D center in Konolfingen, Switzerland, the R&D Accelerator provides a platform for start-ups, students and scientists to leverage the company’s unique dairy and plant protein expertise to quickly bring products from ideation to commercialization.

The R&D Accelerator features a fully equipped test kitchen, as well as a co-working office space. Internal, external and mixed teams will leverage Nestlé’s capabilities to bring novel ideas from concept to test shop in only six months. They will have access to Nestlé expertise and key equipment such as small to medium scale production equipment to facilitate the rapid upscaling of products for a test launch in a retail environment.

Chr. Hansen to sell its Natural Colors division to EQT

Chr. Hansen is selling its Natural Colors division to EQT for approximately €800 million. The acquisition, expected to close mid-2021, allows EQT to build on the existing strategy of continued organic growth in current markets with a focus on the U.S. and Asia. EQT will also support acquisitive expansion within the highly fragmented foods coloring market by utilizing the Natural Colors platform for industry consolidation. EQT plans to invest significantly in the company’s organization and strengthen its digital infrastructure, sustainability capabilities and supply chain setup.

Utz Brands acquires H.K. Anderson Business from Conagra

Utz Quality Foods, a subsidiary of Utz Brands Inc., entered into a definitive agreement with Conagra Brands Inc. to acquire certain assets of the H.K. Anderson business, a leading brand of peanut butter-filled pretzels. The transaction, with a purchase price of less than $10 million, enables Utz to jump-start its entry into the growing filled pretzel segment, leveraging the synergies of its salty snack platform. The acquisition includes intellectual property specific to the H.K. Anderson brand and does not include employees, facilities or equipment. The transaction is expected to close in November 2020, subject to customary closing conditions.

While traditional versions of pretzels continue to enjoy popularity, increased consumer snacking presents opportunities to accelerate momentum in the pretzel category through innovation. According to IRI, dollar sales of pretzels increased 10% percent to $1.4 billion, based on data for the 52 weeks ending Sept. 6, 2020, an increase of more than $120 million versus a year ago.

Phytolon raises $4.1M to fund natural food coloring technology

Phytolon, a portfolio company of The Trendlines Group Ltd., has secured $4.1 million in funding for its fermentation-based technology for the production of plant-based food colors. Founded in 2018 based on licensed technology through the Weizmann Institute of Science, the company leverages a proprietary, fermentation-based technology to produce plant-based food colors.

“This round will enable us to reach the market with our healthy and sustainable food colors that offer a high quality and cost-efficient solution to the food industry,” said Phytolon CEO Halim Jubran, Ph.D. “The new round will also promote our collaborations with our potential clients, with whom we have been in communications during the past year and a half.”

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