Lonza boosts capsule making capabilities with €78.2m investment

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©Lonza
©Lonza

Related tags: Lonza, capsules, Licaps

Lonza’s €78.2m ($93m) investment in its Capsules and Health Ingredients (CHI) Division will increase the capsule production capacity by 15%, according to company executives.

The announcement, which affects eight Lonza sites, will expand capsule manufacturing capacity by 30 billion capsules annually and follows 2019’s investment that increased CHI's capacity by 10bn capsules.

"We continue to see strong demand for our products across all markets, as consumers and patients alike take a more active interest in their health,” ​explains Claude Dartiguelongue, President Capsules & Health Ingredients at Lonza.

“Therefore, we felt it is critical that we make this commitment to expand the manufacturing capacity of our network, not only addressing supply needs in the near term but also supply availability over the long term."

The investment will be made over two fiscal years, 2020 and 2021, across Lonza’s manufacturing sites that include its European operations in Bornem, Belgium and Colmar in France.

Further afield, the sites set to benefit includes those in Greenwood (USA), Haryana (IN), Jakarta (ID), Puebla (MX), Sagamihara (JP), and Suzhou, (CN).

Lonza adds that the extra manufacturing capacity will address the high growth across CHI's gelatine, vegetarian, and specialty polymers portfolio as well as the liquid-filled hard capsules sold under the Licaps brand.

Licaps two-piece capsules are a dosage form offered in both gelatine and HPMC (hypromellose) for liquid, semi-solid, paste and multi-particulate applications.

The expansion taps into increased demand for capsules in the nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical markets, buoyed on by consumers adopting healthier lifestyles and patients seeking preventative treatments.

Nutritional capsules market

According to Lonza’s 2019 annual report, the €546bn nutrition industry continues to grow with segments such as joint health, sports nutrition and digestive health forecast to grow at 7-9% (CAGR 2019–2024).

However, the nutritional capsules market, is expected to grow in line with the overall capsules market of moderate GDP+ growth.

“More consumers are proactively looking to protect their health, improve their wellbeing, and live longer, healthier lives,”​ the report quotes from Euromonitor research.

“With today’s busy lifestyle, consumers are seeking convenient methods of getting nutrients through supplements and functional foods.”

Lonza’s report goes on to say that consumers are also looking for greater transparency in the products they buy with greater interest in understanding how a product was made and where it came from.

Trusted products offering clean-label, natural, non-genetically modified organism (GMO), plant-based credentials and information on ingredient sourcing and processing, are of particular interest.

Additionally, the convergence of the food and pharma market continues with an increasing range of supplements, functional foods, and nutraceuticals to promote and expand healthspan.

LMP tech

Lonza adds the expansion will support production of new dosage technologies such as Lipid Multi Particulates (LMP) technologies and several new time-release functional capsule solutions.

This technology consists of round, smooth matrix multiparticulates, typically 50-1,200 micrometres (μm) in diameter containing of one or more lipid excipients that are solid at room temperature.

Produced by Lonza-owned Capsugel, LMP technology is formulated to contain a measured microdose of active nutritional ingredients including botanicals, vitamins and amino acids.

The ability to precisely deliver a metered dose of actives combined with the controlled particle size of LMP can lead to improved gut distribution.

"Dosage form technologies have evolved rapidly over the past ten years,”​ says Stef Vanquickenborne, Head of Capsules & Health Ingredients Research and Development at Lonza.

“As the leader in the industry, we are committed to innovation and helping our customers successfully deliver next-generation drugs and nutritional supplements."

On the nutritional ingredients side, Lonza’s UC-II Undenatured Type II Collagen (joint health) is primarily manufactured in Fort Smith, AR (USA), and will be supplemented by Greenwood, SC (USA).

The organisation produces its Carnipure L-carnitine for human nutrition in Nansha (CN) and ResistAid, an arabinogalactan uniquely sourced from local larch trees to support immune health, is produced in Cohasset, MN (USA).

Lonza recently appointed Roche's Pierre-Alain Ruffieuxa as its new CEO in June after Marc Funk left the organisation in November 2019.

Lonza are currently collaborating with US-biotech Moderna to create an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, with the pact looking to produce 1bn doses annually subject to regulatory approval.  

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