FMC: 'We looked at the omega-3 area broadly and it was clear Epax was the premier property in this space'

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

Mike Smith: 'Our microcrystalline cellulose is already used by some of the biggest brands in supplements so we’re excited about being able to talk to them about omega-3s'
Mike Smith: 'Our microcrystalline cellulose is already used by some of the biggest brands in supplements so we’re excited about being able to talk to them about omega-3s'

Related tags: Nutrition

While the $345m acquisition of omega-3 firm Epax will keep it busy for a while, FMC Corporation is still on the lookout for other deals in other high-growth areas of the nutraceuticals market, says the man in charge of its fast-growing health and nutrition segment.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after sealing the deal to acquire Epax (click here for details​), FMC Health and Nutrition VP and global business director Mike Smith said: “Are we looking at other acquisition opportunities in the next 2-3 years? Absolutely.

“We want to continue to expand and grow our health & nutrition portfolio and we’re starting from an excellent strategic position in important and high-growth areas.”

Potential targets could be small or large and based around innovative technology or/and ingredients, he said. “But anything we acquire will have a strong scientifically-backed product line where we’re confident it fulfills customer and consumer requirements to improve health and nutrition for an extended period of time.”

Our microcrystalline cellulose is already used by some of the biggest brands in supplements

While FMC is best known to food and beverage firms for hydrocolloids and natural colors, it already has strong contacts in the dietary supplements sector as a supplier of microcrystalline cellulose, which is widely used as an excipient in vitamin and mineral tablets, he said.

“Our microcrystalline cellulose is already used by some of the biggest brands in supplements so we’re excited about being able to talk to them about omega-3s.”

FMC also has a small but rapidly-growing presence in the nutraceuticals market with branded ingredients including MaQBerry antioxidants (from maquiberries); cholesterol-busting Nutraesterol phytosterols; Nutricol HN glucomannan (a dietary fiber with weight management and cardio benefits) and Protasea Fucoidan (a brown seaweed extract developed in-house by FMC at its Norwegian alginate extraction facility).

The interest in fucoidan has been primarily in supplements, but some of our food customers have expressed in interest in it as well”,​ he added. “There is some strong science around fucoidan, particularly for immune health.”

Epax has an outstanding reputation for very high quality concentrated omega-3 products

Asked why FMC had picked Epax as its first major acquisition in the nutra space, he said: “Omega-3s have strong scientific backing and high levels of consumer awareness so an acquisition in this area seemed like an excellent strategic step for our health & nutrition business.

“As for why Epax, we looked at the omega-3 area broadly and it was clear Epax was the premier property in this space. It has an outstanding reputation for very high quality concentrated omega-3 products and world class technology and customer relationships.”

While Epax is a European-based business with plants in the UK and Norway, it already has strong sales in North America and Asia, and has been generating double-digit sales growth, slightly ahead of the overall market rate for omega-3s, he said. However, FMC will be able to increase its geographical footprint, he predicted.

“We have a very strong footprint globally from a commercial, technical and applications standpoint with 12 technical and application labs around the world.”

While the food and beverage market has not been a focus for Epax historically, FMC - which has strong contacts with major food and beverage industry players - will open up new opportunities in this space, he said.

Asked about whether FMC would also look at opportunities in the algal omega-3 market, something Epax had been looking at closely before the acquisition, he said: “There are potentially exciting opportunities outside fish oil and we will continue to explore all future innovations around omega-3s.”

Epax CEO: This sets the stage for us for the next 10 years

Under the deal, the senior management team at Epax will remain with the business, which makes premium grade omega-3 fatty acid concentrates primarily from anchovies for nutraceutical, pharma and food applications from cGMP facilities in Norway and the UK utilizing proprietary purification and concentration technologies.

Click here​ to read more about the deal and hear from Epax CEO Ola Snøve.

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