Katinka Abbenbroek became CEO of Lipid Nutrition on December 1 on the retirement of Aat Visser, who held the post for seven years. Visser worked for Unilever - which sold Lipid Nutrition in 2002 - and Loders Croklaan for 42 years in total.
Abbenbroek told NutraIngredients.com that when she started with the company eight years ago, it was a relatively small outfit. Now it has a staff of 75 (excluding production), who have brought on board considerable expertise in R&D, regulatory, patents and marketing.
"We are now aligning ourselves to sell all this value," said Abbenbroek, who is taking up the reigns at an exciting time - just two months after it announced that it is becoming a separate legal entity from its Malaysian parent company Loders Croklaan.
Lipid Nutrition is very different from Loders Croklaan, which is all about palm oil and commodities, she explained. "It is good to have a completely different face to the world."
The existing product line consists of Marinol for heart health, Clarinol for body and lean muscle mass, Saffrinol for immune health, Betapol for infant nutrition and PinnoThin, the weight management ingredient that has recently received two accolades: the silver HIE Award, and Frost and Sullivan's Product Innovation Award.
These ingredients have applications in foods as well as supplements, and although they already have a store of science behind them, Lipid Nutrition is planning to increase the clinical evidence - and with it food manufacturers' and consumers' interest.
"Clinical trials make a product much more attractive for large food companies - that is why we invest in those kind of trials," said Abbenbroek.
Moreover, she said that the company has a full pipeline of products - mainly weight management, heart health, and infant nutrition - and is aiming to bring one to market a year.
While it is hoped that the first of these will make its entry in 2007, Abbenbroek stressed again the importance of science. "You need one or two really good clinical trials before you can launch a product."
Another big area of focus for Lipid Nutrition is regulatory approvals. It is currently extending regulatory claims and approvals not only in Europe and the US, but also in Asia - a trickier undertaking since all the countries have their own regulations.
Although Abbenbroek is under no illusions as to the work this will entail, it is worth it, she said, since it will differentiate Lipid Nutrition from other companies that do not have a package of evidence and approvals.
"We see it as an opportunity to separate ourselves from the competition, not a risk," she said.
In Asia Lipid Nutrition sees Korea, Japan and China as important because sales are growing apace in these markets. But it is also eyeing smaller markets such as Malaysia.
Although not yet discussing plans in detail, Abbenbroek said that the company is considering establishing a production location to serve the Asian market.
Part of the strategy in Asia involves increasing cooperation with partners who are familiar with the product categories and have good contacts in the geographical location.
Loders Croklaan is listed on the Malasian stock exchange. Lipid Nutrition's finacial results are not broken out from the group's $1.3bn turnover.