Idle investment capital driving consolidation in testing arena, exec says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dietary supplement Laboratory Investment

Microbiology testing is one of the services SF Analytical Laboratories offers.
Microbiology testing is one of the services SF Analytical Laboratories offers.
The need to get higher returns on investment capital that has lain idle is driving the ongoing consolidation in the sphere of analytical testing according to Dave Kliber, CEO of SF Analytical Laboratories, which was recently acquired by multinational firm Eurofins.

“There is a significant amount of attention in the investor community globally on the sector. Globally there is $1.3 trillion in cash sitting on balance sheets that needs to be put to work, and the science and technology sector including laboratories is seen as a very good place to invest,” ​Kliber told NutraIngredients-USA.

Water capital of world

SF Analytical is a New Berlin, WI-based analytical testing laboratory with a broad array of capabilities.  The company’s clients include food and beverage companies, dietary supplement firms and industrial clients. The laboratory offers a complete range of chemistry, nutrition, allergen, and microbiological testing for food processors and manufacturers, in addition to environmental and water testing. This last focus goes with the territory, Kliber said.

“Here in Wisconsin we are sitting on 20% of the world’s surface fresh water. The United Nations recognized Milwaukee as one of the water research hubs of the world, and it certainly is the water research capital of the United States. There are about 160 companies doing water-related work and research,”​ he said.

Combining with Eurofins will provide greater capabilities for clients, Kliber said.  Eurofins now boasts 200 labs in 36 countries. The company also features logistical expertise using advanced courier systems to create streamlined sample pick up for clients. The expanded technical offerings will benefit SF’s already diverse client base, Kliber said.

“We have about 2,900 clients, with about 700 active in a given year.  We do some work with dietary supplement companies, but the bulk of our work is in the food sector.  Wisconsin is the No. 1 ingredients state and the No. 3 total food producer with the various players in the dairy, food and beverage space.​ Eurofins brings some much more capabilities and the scale to deal with regional and national clients,”​ Kliber said. “

ISO accreditation

One of the issues surrounding testing in the dietary supplement sphere is the lack of an agreed-upon set of Good Laboratory Practices (GLPs) specific to supplements.  In that void, Kliber said SF Analytical relies on its ISO 17025 accreditation.  The lab also conforms to official methods put forth by FDA and USDA, he said.

GLPs are not mandatory since GMPs require only Certificate of Analysis in many instances, explained Nandakumara Sarma, PhD, director of dietary supplements, U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). “The lack of GLPs is not a hindrance in terms of assuring quality across labs, provided suitable quality systems are adopted by the testing labs,” ​said Dr Sarma. “One such system is the ISO 17025 accreditation, which demonstrates that the testing and calibration laboratories operate a quality system, are technically competent, and are able to generate technically valid results.” 

Need for more testing on horizon

Kliber said the expansion of his company’s capabilities comes at an opportune time for industry.  The company started in the early 1900s as an offshoot of Marquette University in Milwaukee.  Testing requirements for industry have steadily ramped up, both for food quality and environmental compliance, but the next few years will see a dramatic increase in testing needs, Kliber said.

“The advent of FSMA and many of the other regulations are really highlighting the need for stronger capabilities. We are seeing more companies doing proactive testing because FDA has not been funded to fully implemented the FSMA regulations. They are inventing regulations on the fly and it has a lot of companies in the sector pretty scared.  They are starting to do things like their own environmental swabbing so they are prepared when these regulations finally come on line,”​ Kliber said.

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