Nexira plots 4-year growth era as it returns to family values

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

Sage advice: Grow 'slowly, surely, safely'.  One of Nexira's offerings ©iStock/zeleno
Sage advice: Grow 'slowly, surely, safely'. One of Nexira's offerings ©iStock/zeleno

Related tags: Nutrition, Protein

After becoming fully family-owned and independent last week, French botanicals and ingredient player Nexira is chasing sales of €150-€160m by 2020 with acquisition, Asian expansion and boosted health and nutrition activity front-and-centre in its plans.

The herbal extracts and acacia gum supplier has just bought back 24% of the capital that was previously held by investor Edmond de Rothschild to make Nexira a 100%-owned Dondain family affair.

In an interview with NutraIngredients Nexira managing director Mathieu Dondain said: “Our move to become independent is not typical for a company of our size. Most mid-sized businesses look to management buyouts etc to accelerate growth, whereas we took the opposite approach because family and independence are core values of our business.”

“We want to be flexible and have the freedom to make our own decisions.”

On the acquisition trail

Now Nexira has regained its independence, Dondain says the aim is to grow “slowly, surely, safely”​.  and its strategy for reaching its stated future targets will combine organic growth with further international acquisitions.

Nexira has a track record of growth through acquisition; in 2013 it bought French botanicals specialist, Tournay Biotechnologies.

Nexira’s next takeover target is likely to be a US-based company active in botanical extracts, to bolster its health ingredients business stateside where its main overseas subsidiary is based. It already has a shortlist of candidates.

“By the end of 2017, beginning of 2018, we hope to be finalising a new acquisition that will underpin our diversification into botanical extracts in North America,”​ said Dondain.

Mathieu-Dondain-Nexira
Flexira: Mathieu Dondain says family ownership means greater flexibility at Nexira

He said this was likely to be a “relatively small” ​acquisition, but a bigger buy was sought.

Eastern promise

About 90% of Nexira’s revenue is generated outside of France and Dondain confirmed the firm wanted to maintain that figure with Asia a key region along with manufacturing and product development opportunities with its Indian partner.

“Asia will be one of our biggest sources of growth going forwards. No one can ignore the size of China’s population and although everyone is complaining about the ‘hard landing’ and growth is slowing down, we still have to keep it on our radar as it could be very interesting for botanical extracts.”

He said that the greatest opportunities exist for extracts that aren’t produced in China, such as cranberry, or South American fruits such as acerola and açai.

1-a-year

Nexira is the global leader in acacia gum, commanding a 40% market share but its health and nutrition division is increasingly important. Extracts and natural ingredients now account for 25% of its €112m+ overall business.

“Our target is to launch one new ingredient per year,”​ said Dondain.

weight loss tablets
©iStock

This year’s new ingredient was Cognivia, a blend of two sage extracts. Next year’s new introduction will be in the weight management space, confirmed Dondain, as this will reinforce and capitalise on the expertise Nexira has gained through working with Bio Serae’s cactus fruit extract.

Nexira was formed in 2011 when Iranex Group united its two subsidiaries Bio Serae Laboratoires and Colloïdes Naturels International (CNI).

“Internally we have the expertise and demand for weight management solutions remains strong,” ​said Dondain.

“We have a shortlist of ingredient sources we are filtering through scientific evidence, and in the coming months we will narrow this down to those with supply chain security and a favourable regulatory status.”

Protein hydrolysis

In other ingredient developments, Nexira is investigating the potential nutritional benefits of acacia gum, and is looking to leverage its existing capabilities in protein hydrolysis.

“Within our biotech facility in St Emilion we already have the ability to do protein hydrolysis; we want to use and expand this by development vegetable proteins with interesting technical or nutritional properties, or both,”​ said Dondain.

Nexira already markets hydrolysed wheat, rice, pea and soy proteins under its Prothy brand. Dondain confirmed the business was looking at other vegetable and plant based protein sources, such as chia, almonds and walnuts. 

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