VSP, bought by the Canadian firm in 1999, has largely operated as a separate business until this year but under its new name, Biorignial Europe, and new company organisation, it is now expected to gain fully from being part of an international group, tapping into the extensive growers network set up by its parent company as well as new projects on plant breeding.
"VSP-Bolier was far too small to support these kind of programmes," points out Johan Kamphuis, the new head of global marketing and sales at Bioriginal.
The European business has however been a key driver of growth at the group with sales increasing by more than 50-60 per cent each year, compared to a global growth rate of 35 per cent, according to Kamphuis.
This is in large part due to the consumer awareness of omega-3 fatty acids, not originally one of Bioriginal's key products. But the firm has managed to tap into the success both by offering fish oils last year in response to the trend, which it blends with other products, and through its flax, which also benefits from the recently approved health claim in the US.
Flax still only makes up 4 per cent of the whole European omega-3 market but it offers both cost advantages as well as being preferred by some consumers for its non-animal source.
Blends have also proved popular, according to Kamphuis. While the fish oils, and particularly the fish oil concentrates, business has been consolidating in recent years, plant oils remains a fragmented market with many small operators. Bioriginal, which makes three quarters of its sales from borage, evening primrose and flax oils, sees its opportunity in being able to offer blends of different fatty acids that can offer the whole package of required omega fats.
"We can deliver every EFA (essential fatty acid) in any package that people want, we even do blistering now," said Kamphuis, who joined the company in March this year after managing nutritional ingredients at DSM Food Specialties.
Some of the blends include a 'fibre omega' blend for bread type applications, which has been used in some new products on the market. Another blend selling well is an omega emulsion for children.
Most of the growth has however been in supplements with applications for the food market proving slow to develop.
"Food is still very difficult although we have developed some microencapsulated products for food applications. But every application needs a different product so we still view the food market as opportunistic," explained Kamphuis.
However the company does have the added benefit of having products already well established in Europe.
"All of our products are regulated very easily. None of them requires novel foods or other regulatory approval as most have been on the market for some 20 years," said Kamphuis.