Metarom reveals Asian subsidiary plans as active flavor for fat reduction debuts
13 Sep 2018 --- Metarom is targeting strong medium-term growth in South East Asian markets, which will be through the creation of a new entity based in Malaysia: Metarom ASEAN. In a separate, but an equally significant move for the French-headquartered flavor firm, it debuted a flavor modification blend that can be used to lower the fat content of baked goods. When applied in synergy with a sweetness solution, the “active” flavors can effectively reduce the fat content of a pound cake by 50 percent and the sugar content by 30 percent, while maintaining the organoleptic properties and sweetness of the reference product.
Revealing the plans to FoodIngredientsFirst at Vitafoods Asia in Singapore, Sylvain Delanghe at the company noted that after 25 years of operation in Asia, the time was ripe for a significant move. “Metarom is a French-based family business with a 60-year history, with many subsidiaries worldwide. Two years ago we decided to have a sales office based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to serve the customers that we have had there for 25 years,” he explained. Jean-Yves Le Dantec, who was also present at the Singapore event will head up the new business unit.
“Recently, we decided to go to the ultimate step and create an independent subsidiary which will be based close to Kuala Lumpur. The factory has been acquired and we will start with more than eight people, including R&D, food technologists and flavorists,” he says. The factory will include a flavor creation lab and an R&D food tech lab for applications. “This will allow us to develop customers and watch products with them in real time,” he notes.
The cost of the investment is not being disclosed at this time, but the market expansion intent is obvious. Ambitions are to increase the share of turnover in Asia from the current 10 percent to 25 percent in the next five to ten years, with all production intended for Asian markets coming out of the Malaysia facility. “From January 1, 2019, we plan to move most of the volume that we were producing from France to now produce and sell directly in the Asian market,” he explains.
Production will commence with liquid flavors, followed by powdered form flavors, which should start running several months further down the line. “Asia is a market on which we are present for 25 years and we serve customers in all of the South East Asian countries with a complete distribution network in Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. For the moment from a group sales perspective, Asia accounts for just 10 percent of the turnover for the group. But this is not representative of Asia in the world from a macro perspective. So there is room for significant growth,” Delanghe explains.
Europe currently accounts for most of Metarom’s current business, through five existing subsidiaries serving the region: Metarom France, Spain, Benelux, Czech Republic and Switzerland. “We start officially with our new subsidiary in South East Asia, with Malaysia and we still wait for mid or long-term future to target other parts of Asia, such as China and India, for example. For the short term we start focusing on Asia as a whole,” he says.
Asia should one day represent 25 percent of the total group turnover, although specific targets in terms of timeframe are not being disclosed further than suggesting “five to ten years.” “The Metarom Group is a family-owned business and the speed is not as significant as if we were bank or shareholder owned. We want to grow sustainably, with growth for growth’s sake making no sense for us,” he adds. The facility will have a knock-on potential and could also serve the Middle East markets, where Metarom is also eyeing growth.
Delanghe also notes that Asian manufacturers are becoming as demanding as Europeans in terms of product development ambition, which is why the launch of an entirely new technology that goes far beyond the realms of classic passive flavors is warranted. It was therefore logical that Metarom debuted their latest technology to show floor visitors at Vitafoods Asia in a pound cake application.
“Until one decade ago, all flavors were ‘passive,’” Delanghe states. “This meant that when you had a ‘banana’ or ‘strawberry’ flavor, for example, and put it in something it has a taste of what you are supposed to bring,” he explains. Contrary to these “passive” flavors, Metarom began creating “active” flavor solutions, where the ingredient labeling remains “natural flavor,” but the “active” flavor doesn’t bring the taste itself. Instead, it allows for the modification of the initial taste of the matrix in which the ingredient solution is being used.
“In the last few years, aided by a background of issues such as a sugar tax, for example, competitors and ourselves, developed sweetness by using active flavors. You can decrease the sugar content by 10-30 percent and still maintain the same sweetness perception and organoleptic profile. This can be achieved through products such as Metarom’s Actiboost Sweet, which has been on the market for several years now, particularly for beverages. What is much more recent is the use of this solution in bakery, where the sugar content can be reduced by 50 percent while still maintaining the sweetness perception and organoleptic profile,” explains Delanghe.
At Vitafoods Asia, Metarom presented a Sports Gel with ACTI’MASK Sweet at the show Tasting Bar. The high glucose sports gels for fast recovery are usually extremely sweet and not to every athlete’s taste. But now with ACTI’MASK Sweet by Metarom France, athletes can get the fast recovery they need with a tasty and savory peanut flavor. ACTI’MASK Sweet reduces the sweet perception by 75 percent to adjust to the customers' preferences and relieve that “too sweet” sensation.
Something new that will modify the recipe significantly is Metarom’s Actiboost Fat, which is an active flavor, allowing for a reduction in fat of up to 50 percent. The product is an all-in-one solution made of native starch together with flavor. “Together this a solution whereby you can replace butter or vegetable oil by 50 percent. To achieve that you would go for 2 percent Actiboost Fat, 1 percent non-modified starch and mineral water to make the bulk. The only labeling will be ‘starch, natural flavor,’” he explains. The product has just been launched to the market and is suitable for a variety of applications, including brioche, cookies, pound cakes, various dough products and pastries. “We wanted to launch it in partnership with some potential industrial users to prove its efficacy. It went so well that we had no choice but to introduce it. We still expect to launch it in the next six months officially,” he concludes.
With two significant announcements revealing both geographical expansion and technology ambitions, Metarom will be one flavor company to keep an eye on in the months ahead as they look to expand their Asian footprint.
You can view a video interview with Sylvain Delanghe here.
By Robin Wyers in Singapore
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