The plant was opened a year ago and significantly increased the Israeli company's premix capacity, formerly known as Nutriblend. The oil blend facility, in which it has invested some €5m, was part of the thinking at the very beginning of the project, Peter Gallagher, managing director of LycoRed Limited told NutraIngredients.com at HIE in Frankfurt this week.
LycoRed has designed a line of oily blends with proprietary premixes for infant formulas that contain long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. The addition of fatty acids such as omega-3 and other nutrients that occur naturally in human breast milk is driving differentiation in the formula market.
Although it currently makes up a small part of LycoRed's overall business, which also includes carotenoids, microencapsulation and beadleting at facilities in Israel, Switzerland and the US, formula was described by marketing director Udi Alroy as "one of a few strategic growth engines".
In addition, the facility can make mixtures of plant, algae and marine lipids for mainstream food products, and these mixtures can be tailor made to suit a customer's specific needs.
"Investment in our premix facilities is a cornerstone of our strategy," said Gallager.
Alroy stressed that communication with customers has been a crucial part of the facility design process.
"We were design for today around legislation coming up in the next five years. Where do customers see their business in five years time? How to incorporate that into the model?" said Alroy. "It also gives confidence that the company is here for the long-term."
Since the opening of the facility, LycoRed has seen sizeable growth in its developing business, Alroy said. Current sales remain on a par with last year, but this is to be expected since there is a nine to 12 month lead time for new products.
In terms of LycoRed's market position, he said it is difficult to evaluate the market since it is made up of many sectors and every premix house focuses on a different product category and, as LycoRed is doing with its extension into formulas, may shift its focus from time to time depending on market needs and trends.
"Changes in the market create changes in the industry."
Gallagher added that, besides the technical necessity to make products taste good, two of the main drivers are consumer demand for natural products, and the search for new ways to receive their vitamins and minerals.
Gone are the days when people will be satisfied with receiving their nutrition from "meat and two veg" meals, he said. On the go is a big concept.