Natraceutical, the biotech subsidiary of Spanish cocoa products group Natra, looks set to shift its focus away from caffeine towards nutraceutical products, as it announces its third patent application this year.
The latest patent, applied for last month, is for a natural compound called AD-11, which can be used to increase the fibre and polyphenol content of foods. The firm is also hoping to receive a patent for CV-16, a fatty acid ingredient that is said to prevent cardiovascular disease, and IN-29, rich in antioxidants and soluble fibres.
Natraceutical claims to be world's leading purified caffeine producer, with US soft drinks giant Coca-Cola among its numerous clients. And while turnover in this year's first half has been boosted by higher sales of caffeine and other alkaloids - which currently make up 70 per cent of its activities - predicted growth for its nutraceutical ingredients over coming years suggests considerably higher margins.
The subsidiary currently markets a line of polyphenols and plant extracts such as devil's claw and rosemary, as well as bioflavonoids for the food and pharmaceutical industries. But the launch of its anti-heart disease supplement CV-16 is now to be brought forward to the beginning of 2004, with an estimated global market of €945 million that year and 12 per cent annual growth.
The compound will be introduced directly to consumer channels, like IN-29, a product made up of oleic acid, tocopherols, pigments, polyphenols and aromatic compounds. Currently awaiting patent approval from the UK's patent office, the ingredient appears to be an unplanned development, and has helped speed up the firm's focus on nutraceutical activities. It will benefit from recent news highlighting the benefits of the Mediterranean diet as it is based on a plant native to the region.
AD-11 has had time to prove its value as it is already available, both in Europe and the US market, where Natraceutical exports 85 per cent of its plant-based ingredients. The new product is expected to generate €177,000 this year and exceed €12 million by 2011, predicts the firm.
Listed on Spain's new market since the end of last year, Natraceutical reported strong turnover in the first half of the year, increasing 78 per cent on last year's figure to €9.5 million for the six months. Net profits tripled to €1.05 million during the period, thanks to an improved operating margin, up from 9 per cent last year to 16 per cent this year.
It has forecast turnover of €21.3 million and profits of more than €2 million for the end of the year, ahead of the launch of its new products on the booming functional food market.