Weekly Roundup: FAO Food Price Index drops for sixth consecutive month, BlueNalu’s new alt-seafood facility
07 Oct 2022 --- This week in industry news, the gauge for world food commodity prices declined for the sixth month in a row in September. BlueNalu revealed its plans to increase profitability with its first large-scale facility for cell-based seafood. Sensient Technologies acquired natural colors and extracts manufacturer Endemix, while Solina continues its expansion of sauces and dressings in North America. Fresh Del Monte and Decapolis joined forces to provide industry-wide blockchain traceability solutions. Meanwhile, Beneo opened an additional rice starch production line which it touted to increase production capacity to 50%.
In brief: Business moves
According to a report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), prices of vegetable oils have lead the decline in food prices as of late. The FAO Food Price Index averaged 136.3 points in September, down 1.1% from August while remaining 5.5% higher than its value a year earlier. The Index tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a basket of commonly traded food commodities. The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index drove the decline, decreasing by 6.6% over the month to reach its lowest level since February 2021. International quotations for palm, soy, sunflower and rapeseed oils were all lower. Lingering heavy inventories of palm oil, coinciding with seasonally rising production in Southeast Asia, pushed palm oil prices down. Higher soy oil export availabilities in Argentina, increased sunflower oil supplies from the Black Sea region and lower crude oil prices also contributed to the drop in this subindex.
BlueNalu is on a track to “significant profitability” with the launch of its first large-scale facility for cell-based seafood, partly due to a series of breakthrough technologies. These technologies are expected to reduce both operating and capital costs for large-scale production “drastically,” while enabling a projected 75% gross margin. The company’s first product will be bluefin tuna toro, a highly prized and specialty portion that commands premium pricing across global markets. Commonly known challenges include scalable cell growth technologies; the development of food-grade raw materials; production methods that enable regulatory approval and consumer adoption; and processes that support continuous volume production. Given these challenges, species selection, product format and market fit are critical factors in the profitability equation.
Fresh Del Monte Produce has invested a 39% stake in Decapolis. This Jordanian and UK-based start-up company provides blockchain-driven food safety and quality traceability technology for the F&B industry. The two companies plan to roll out Decapolis Food Guard (DFG), the blockchain-based traceability solution, across all Fresh Del Monte business segments, starting with Fresh Del Monte’s pineapple operations in Costa Rica. Decapolis Food Guard provides full traceability solutions through the DFG chain of records which capture assessments at each stage of production, from planting to distribution through QR codes.
Steakholder Foods has filed a provisional patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office, regarding methods and systems for adipocyte differentiation. The patent application details a new and improved process for differentiating stem cells into fat (increasing cultivated fat yields from stem cells), which is more easily reproducible and cost-effective than current methods. This patent filing is the latest step in Steakholder Foods’ push to reduce global dependence on animal-derived components. To date, Steakholder Foods’ patent portfolio – fully owned by Steakholder Foods group companies – includes a granted patent and 15 patent applications.
Beneo opened its new rice starch production line with a special inauguration event. The addition of the new line increases production capacity at the supplier’s Wijgmaal facility in Belgium by 50%, allowing the company to continue meeting the growing demand for its clean label rice ingredients. Beneo is a global provider of rice flour, starch and protein for the food and feed industry, and the company’s unique rice derivatives are used in producing a wide range of clean label products. The increasing demand for natural and clean label ingredients has led to Beneo’s production line expansion in a wide range of applications.
In brief: Acquisitions
Sensient Technologies has acquired Endemix Doğal Maddeler (Endemix). Endemix, located in Turkey, is a vertically integrated natural color and extract company servicing the food and beverage markets. The acquisition of this business strengthens Sensient’s extensive natural color portfolio capabilities and puts Sensient operations closer to key botanical growing areas. Sensient will continue to focus on natural solutions to support its customers in meeting demands for healthier, cleaner products.
Solina, a European producer of savory ingredient solutions, has signed an agreement to acquire Saratoga Food Specialties to continue its expansion in North America. The regulatory approval process is underway and the transaction is expected to close at the end of October 2022. With US-based operations in California, Illinois and Nevada, and annual sales of US$280 million, Saratoga supplies Quick Service Restaurants and food manufacturers with custom dry seasoning blends and liquid solutions such as sauces, dressings and glazes. Upon closing, the Saratoga leadership team and its 500 employees will join Solina.
Puratos UK has bolstered its portfolio of locally made products following the acquisition of fruit grower and processor Fourayes. The move underlines the bakery and patisserie ingredient specialist’s commitment to future generations through responsible, transparent and local sourcing. The Puratos local and transparent fruit sourcing program aims to embed sustainability through the entire value chain, from sourcing of raw materials to usage of products by customers and consumers. Fourayes’s range of fruit fillings, industrial jams and mincemeat will complement and enhance Puratos’s existing local fillings capabilities in Simonswood, further expanding the offer of locally-produced ingredients to customers.
In brief: Miscellaneous highlights
Aleph Farms has announced the addition of Kevin Benmoussa as its executive VP and chief financial officer. Based in Aleph Farms’ US headquarters in New York City’s historic Meatpacking District, Benmoussa will lead the company’s global growth agenda, spearhead its operational expansion in the US, and oversee finance, administration and legal departments globally for the company.
CuliNEX, a US clean label food product and plant-based formulation consultancy, has revealed that Jenny Holman has joined the team as a new project manager. Holman will immediately immerse herself in client projects, launching in with her new colleagues to lead and execute clean label innovations for clients.
Kerrygold has launched a “one-of-a-kind experience” that brings recipes to life through fable-like stories. The Magical Pantry helps families cook together through an innovative digital platform thatintegrates recipes seamlessly into children’s stories so kids can learn and practice cooking skills every time they read. The Magical Pantry, designed for both desktop and mobile, lets young families fully customize a character, pick from almost 40 recipes and select one of 4 unique fables to read and enjoy.
The makers of Hormel Black Label bacon brand are celebrating National Sausage Month during October. The brand team heard the pleas of sausage lovers far and wide and is bringing back its Little Sizzlers original pork sausages at select US retail locations.
By Elizabeth Green
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