Israeli Flavoring Giant Frutarom Pivots To Multi-Billion-Dollar Organic Food Market

By Alice Menichelli, NoCamels February 03, 2016 Comments

Consumers’ craving for natural and chemical-free products has been growing in recent years; everything from organic milk to organic cosmetics is becoming more widespread, according to industry trade group the Organic Trade Association (OTA), which estimates that the US market for organic products, both food and non-food items, is just shy of $39 billion — an 11 percent increase from last year.

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Israeli food flavoring giant Frutarom is cashing in on the opportunity, using its deep pockets to acquire organic and natural food flavoring companies, which its CEO hopes will bring the company a ‘unicorn,’ $1 billion valuation.

frutarom lab science

Frutarom’s lab in Herzeliya

Founded in 1933, Frutarom is one of Israel’s oldest enterprises and considered to be one of the 10 largest companies globally in the field of flavors and specialty fine ingredients. Everything from low-fat peach yogurt to jalapeno tortilla chips use flavors and extracts supplied by Frutarom, which operates production centers in six contents, selling over 43,000 products to more than 20,000 customers in 150 countries.

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To ensure market leadership, Frutarom has recently pivoted towards the organic foods market. Natural products already make up 75 percent of the company’s activity, which Frutarom’s management wants to expand: “The key is to manufacture unique ingredients at an affordable price,” CEO Ori Yehudai tells NoCamels. “To do so, we need to collaborate with the most innovative and technologically advanced enterprises.”

Growing through acquisitions 

Working to expand its research and development, Frutarom has turned its attention to Israeli algae producer Algalo. Based on Kibbutz Ein HaMifratz near Haifa, Algalo has developed a method for the cultivation, harvesting and processing of a variety of algae that yield active ingredients for use in the food and cosmetics industries. Frutarom invested $ 2.6 million in Algalo in order to develop a broader range of cosmetic products (yes, your hand moisturizer contains algae).

“The investment in Algalo is part of a broad strategic move to boost our presence in the organic market, while offering the healthiest and most natural solutions to our clients”, Yehudai explains.

Algalo is but one of Frutarom’s 15 investments in the past 12 months. Most recently, Frutarom acquired Grow Company, an American producer of vitamins and dietary supplements, for $20 million. The acquisition of the New Jersey-based company came off the heels of their largest deal yet, announced last December, in which Frutarom revealed that it was buying Austrian savory flavor company Wilberg for approximately €119 million ($130 million). Over the past five years, Frutarom has acquired 30 companies.

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Organic supermarkets like Whole Foods (pictured) have bolstered consumer demand for organic products

These multinational deals are part of the company’s rapid growth strategy to achieve what Yehudai hopes to be $2 billion in sales by 2020. “Frutarom has doubled its size every 4 -5 years, every year is a new record for us,” Yehudai says. “It is really a fascinating journey.”

Given that more households are buying organic — 51 percent more, according to the OTA —Frutarom flavors are now more likely to end up on the dinner table of families that consume organic foods.

Photos: Frutarom; David Shankbone, Taura Natural Ingredients 

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