The company is in the midst of a three-year, €60m plan to expand its cultures capacity in the US and Europe by 2,000 tonnes by 2012, in order to maintain the high growth momentum of the business.
In full year 2009/10, cultures accounted for 15 per cent of group revenue, coming in a DKK 2.1m – up 7per cent year-on-year with 10 per cent organic growth and a 3 per cent negative currency impact. The company said that the growth was broad-based but starter cultures performed particularly well we the wave of conversion to direct vat inoculation (DVI) continues.
“Global demand for direct vat inoculant (DVI) cultures is growing fast as more manufacturers recognise their more consistent performance and ease of use compared to traditional bulk starters,” said Olivier Le Lièvre, manager of the Epernon plant.
Since the modernisation work began Epernon has doubled its cultures capacity. New facilities at the site include a warehouse shipment zone and an ultra cold storage unit (UCS) that ensures a 12 month shelf-life for frozen lactic acid and probiotic cultures produced at the plant for use in probiotic and fresh dairy products.
“The new UCS enables us to consolidate all frozen shipments from our French sites at Epernon and cuts our CO2 emissions due to the reduced use of dry ice and transport,” said Pierre Cans, Operations Vice President, Cultures Division.
Earlier this year Danisco effected a similar expansion at its cultures plant in Niebüll, Germany.
In February it announced the doubling of its freeze-drying capacity at Dangé-Saint-Romain, France, to support growing demand for ripening and protective cultures due to the trend towards natural foods.
The Dangé site, which specialises in freeze-dried cultures but also produces limited amounts of liquid format cultures, became fully operational in December 2009.
The company’s facility in Rochester, Minnesota, is also a recipient of funding for expansion.
DVI systems (also known as direct vat set cultures, or DVS) are designed to combat bacteriophage – an age-old problem in the dairy industry that kills bacteria, thereby slowing the production process – by enabling manufacturers to rotate cultures. Traditional bulk starters are less easy to rotate, so it is said that the risk is higher.
Danisco is not the only supplier to see increased demand for its direct-to-vat cultures. Chr. Hansen has also said that the global recession had boosted demand for its DVS culture systems as its customers looked for ways to raise productivity. It claims that DVS technology reduces wastage and increases yield – important attributes at a time when manufacturers are making cost reduction a top priority.
DVI has not always been an option associated with value, and the current international swing away from bulk starters takes starter methods full circle. Fifty years ago, DVI was the only culture of choice for the dairy industry, but when bulk starters developed about two decades later they were seen as a lower cost alternative.